Photo by FPaul Chapman/NBAE via Getty Images
The Magic’s offensive strategy in Sunday’s loss to the Pistons was pretty simple: Get the ball to J.J. Redick and hope he can get a three-pointer off. The box score will show that other Magic players had excellent games, namely Jameer Nelson, E’Twaun Moore, and Nikola Vucevic. But Orlando’s offense functioned at its best when the ball was in Redick’s hands.
This couldn’t have been more apparent than in the final five minutes of the first quarter. After starting the game 5-for-5 from beyond the arc and singlehandedly putting the Magic on top, Redick exited as they held onto an 18-17 lead. Over the rest of the quarter, the Pistons proceeded to go on a 12-2 run and end the period leading 29-20.
From there, the momentum was Detroit’s friend, and even though the Magic caught up and led several times throughout the game, it was impossible not to think about how differently things might have turned out if Jacque Vaughn had left Redick in early on when he was the only thing working.
In the second half, the Pistons made a more concerted effort to keep a body on Redick at all times and his shooting cooled considerably. Jameer Nelson hit a few key shots in the half, but for the most part, Orlando’s offense sans Redick was lacking.
Glen Davis had the most Big Baby game imaginable, finishing with 17 points and 12 rebounds but taking 22 shots to get to that mark. And, shockingly, seven of his eight makes came from within the restricted area. Several times he was content to jack up a 22-footer when Redick had a relatively good look from beyond the arc. In other words, business as usual for Big Baby.
Even with these misjudgments on the part of Davis and others, the Magic were right in the game until the final buzzer.
Nelson was fouled shooting a three with 6 seconds remaining in regulation and the Magic trailing 104-100. He hit the first two free throws and intentionally missed the third. Davis corralled the rebound, wasn’t able to get a layup over the Pistons’ bigs (and this was without Andre Drummond in the game), and Orlando blew several second-chance opportunities as the clock expired. The Magic had every opportunity to send the game to overtime and couldn’t get it done.
These types of close losses are starting to run together for the Magic, and after a while, there’s not a lot more they can teach us. The takeaways here are that Redick should shoot a lot and Big Baby shouldn’t. But we knew that.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Redick equalled his career-high of 31 points and did so on 10-for-16 shooting. He was unconscious from beyond the arc in the first half, hitting five of his eight threes in the first quarter.
The Pistons won the turnover battle and scored 16 points off the Magic’s mistakes. Eight of Orlando’s turnovers came in the second quarter, when the Pistons opened up a 10-point lead.
With six seconds remaining, Jameer Nelson missed the third of three free throws and the Magic blew several second-chance opportunities that would have sent the game to overtime.