Photo by Dan Lippitt/NBAE via Getty Images
After missing the last five games with a strained groin and hamstring, Jameer Nelson made his return from injury against the Detroit Pistons on Friday. And even though Nelson finished with 13 points and 10 assists, he made his impact with his words more so than his play.
During a full timeout late in the third quarter with the Pistons leading 75-65, Nelson lit into his teammates and called them out in the huddle. The Magic responded by going on an 8-0 run, cutting their deficit to two during the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
Before Nelson’s outburst, which changed the complexion of the game, Greg Monroe was shredding Orlando’s defense in pick-and-rolls while Tayshaun Prince seemingly couldn’t miss a shot from midrange. Other players for the Pistons were making a positive impact as well, but Monroe and Prince were the driving force behind Detroit building a double-digit lead that ballooned to as much as 13 points in the third quarter.
However, everything changed in the final period.
With 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Magic down by six with the score 83-77 in favor of the Pistons, head coach Jacque Vaughn — probably sensing that Orlando’s bench was losing their grip on the game — put the starting lineup back on the floor against Detroit’s second unit. The move worked, as the Magic went on a 12-3 run to take a three-point lead at 89-86 midway through the period.
From the 7:11 mark in the fourth quarter up until the final minute of the game, there were eight lead changes as both teams went back-and-forth. In that final minute, Orlando’s late-game execution — which had been an achilles heel in previous games — shined through.
After Kyle Singler made two free-throws with 47.7 seconds left to put the Pistons up 102-101, the Magic ran an excellent sideline out-of-bounds play on the ensuing possession for Redick following a timeout that gave them the lead for good.
Redick inbounded the ball to Nikola Vucevic on the left block, then faked going to the top of the arc before cutting back towards the left corner. While all this was happening, Glen Davis set a screen for Redick’s defender (Singler). Redick’s stutter step, in combination with Davis setting an excellent screen from the left wing at the three-point line, was all the space Redick needed to receive the handoff pass from Vucevic, get a clean look from behind the three-point line in the left corner, and make the shot to give Orlando the lead at 104-102.
Hoping to respond with a basket of their own, Detroit ran a nice sideline out-of-bounds play of their own on the next possession. Prince inbounded the basketball to Monroe at the left elbow, then Monroe faked the handoff pass to Prince, which forced Arron Afflalo to switch onto Monroe while Vucevic switched onto Prince. Monroe isolated Afflalo on the left block but Afflalo made a great defensive stand, holding his ground, and forcing Monroe to take an awkward lefty hook that completely missed the rim.
From there, Redick and Afflalo made their free-throws to ice the game and allow the Magic to escape with a four-point win.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Not only did Redick score 12 points in the fourth quarter, but he nailed a three-pointer that proved to be the game-winner for Orlando. Redick finished the game with 23 points on 13 shots — another efficient outing for him offensively.
After teaming up to score 37 points through three quarters, Monroe and Prince combined to score only four points in the final period. That forced the Pistons to rely on other players to step up in crunch time.
After trailing for most of the evening, Redick’s three-pointer with 42.8 seconds left in regulation was the game-defining play that allowed the Magic to leave Detroit with a come-from-behind victory.