Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images
It’s no surprise that the Orlando Magic lost to the Detroit Pistons on the road — again.
In the Stan Van Gundy era, the Magic are 2-6 against the Pistons on the road in the regular season. Only in Van Gundy’s first season with Orlando did Detroit have the better team. So even though the Magic have been better than the Pistons since 2009, it hasn’t mattered. Orlando almost always loses to Detroit on the road. It’s practically the law.
This time around, it didn’t help that the Magic were playing without Dwight Howard (back spasms), Ryan Anderson (sprained ankle), and Jameer Nelson (sore calf). That forced players like Glen Davis to pick up the slack and in the case of “Big Baby,” he did, putting up a career-high 31 points (11-of-22 shooting from the floor). 10 rebounds, and three steals.
It wasn’t enough, though, as Orlando — bereft of talent — was unable to keep pace with the Pistons. Defense was a huge issue, as the Magic allowed Detroit to shoot 56.6 percent from the floor.
But surprisingly enough, Orlando’s defense (or lack thereof) is the least of their concerns. This isn’t to suggest that the way the Magic are playing defensively, with or without Dwight, is acceptable because it’s not.
The bigger issue is that Orlando, by tying their season-high with four losses in a row during the regular season, have slipped to the No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. Right behind the Boston Celtics (30-22), a team currently locked in to the No. 4 seed by virtue of leading the Atlantic Division, despite the Magic having a better record (32-22).
Apart from the Atlanta Hawks, the Celtics are the last team that Orlando wants to see in the playoffs. Especially with Boston surging right now, tying a season-high with five wins in a row (including the destruction of the Miami Heat at home on Sunday). Granted, everything in the East is still fluid right now, as the Magic are .5 games back of the Indiana Pacers for the No. 3 seed. But Orlando’s losing streak and rash of injuries couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The question is whether or not the Magic will be able to recover in time to secure the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with 10 games left in the regular season.
Time will tell.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Despite the loss, Davis deserves the nod for keeping Orlando afloat with his offense throughout the game. It should be noted that Davis benefitted by playing against the 24th-ranked defense in the NBA.
That Was … Offensive
Even though Detroit was ranked 27th in Offensive Rating entering Tuesday’s game, that didn’t stop them from efficiently dropping 102 points on the Magic. Dwight or no Dwight, Van Gundy won’t be pleased with that stat.