AP Photo/John Raoux
Facing off against the Detroit Pistons for a second time in six days, the Orlando Magic skipped the dramatics this time around (following a 110-106 come-from-behind victory in Detroit) and instead used a big third quarter to put the Pistons away early after trailing at halftime.
Entering the third quarter, Detroit was up 48-45 on the Magic. At the start of the fourth quarter, Orlando was up 71-56. What happened?
In the third quarter, the Magic got off to a quick start offensively. Glen Davis got things started by making a righty hook in the paint, then Maurice Harkless and Nikola Vucevic made back-to-back layups. Orlando’s 6-0 start to the period prompted a quick timeout from head coach Lawrence Frank.
Unfortunately for the Pistons, it would only get worse.
The Magic continued to score with relative ease against Detroit’s defense. Nelson nailing a wide open three-pointer off a staggered 1/5 pick-and-roll with Davis and Vucevic, as well as Redick making an uncontested layup on a beautiful backdoor cut (with Josh McRoberts setting a back-screen and Kyle O’Quinn making a nice feed) were examples of Orlando executing their half-court sets without much resistance from Detroit defensively.
On the flipside, as the quarter progressed, the Pistons were having a difficult time scoring on the Magic’s defense. Part of it was because Detroit shot themselves in the foot with turnovers (some of them unforced), but part of it was also because Orlando did an excellent job of contesting shots in the paint and forcing the Pistons to beat from the perimeter. Detroit, a shaky jumpshooting team, failed to do so.
As such, the Magic went on a 21-0 run.
The Pistons didn’t score their first points in the period until the 2:15 mark, thanks to two Rodney Stuckey free-throws, and they didn’t score their first field goal until the 1:57 mark, thanks again to Stuckey.
When it was all said and done, Orlando had outscored Detroit 26-8 in the third quarter (tying a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a third quarter) and would cruise to a 90-74 win.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
The Magic defense. The fewest points allowed by Orlando in a third quarter in franchise history? Eight. First on February 10, 1999 against the then-New Jersey Nets, then again in tonight’s game versus the Pistons.
LVP (Least Valuable Player)
Go ahead and hand the LVP “award” to the whole Detroit team after a dreadful performance. Here’s the Pistons’ stat-line in the third quarter — eight points on 2-for-21 shooting from the floor (.095 percent) and six turnovers. Oof.
Trailing 48-45 at halftime, the Magic outscored Detroit 26-8 in the third quarter (the first 21 points were unanswered). The Pistons were held scoreless until the 2:15 mark in the period when Rodney Stockey made a pair of free-throws.
That Was … Impressive
No, not Orlando’s third quarter performance. It was Andrew Nicholson who was impressive, not just with his offense (15 points on 7-for-9 shooting), but doing the little things like setting good screens and being willing to take a charge defensively.