Pistons snap 3-game losing streak with 105-93 win over Magic

·3 min read

ORLANDO, Fla. — Rookie guard Saben Lee scored a career-best 21 points, Josh Jackson added 18 and the Detroit Pistons snapped a three-game losing streak with a 105-93 win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.

Detroit, which has an NBA-worst road record of 3-14, won for the first time since Feb. 14. Outplayed throughout a 105-96 loss to the Magic on Sunday, the Pistons raced to a 15-point first-quarter lead, dominated the third quarter and rode balanced scoring the rest of the way for the victory.

Lee, a rookie out of Vanderbilt on a two-way contract, was pressed into duty because of Delon Wright’s groin injury. Strong on Sunday with 12 points, five assists and three steals, Lee scored 13 points in nthe first half Tuesday, keying the Pistons' strong start. He made all three of his 3-pointers and added four assists.

Detroit’s ninth victory of the season ended Orlando’s three-game winning streak and put a damper on Magic centre Nikola Vucevic’s selection as a reserve for the NBA All-Star Game. Just two nights after battering the undersized Pistons for 37 points and 13 rebounds, Vucevic finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. He shot 9 for 22 shots and missed 6 of 8 3-point attempts.

Detroit’s Jerami Grant had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Dennis Smith Jr. added 14 points for the Pistons, who shot 46.6% despite 10-for-34 shooting from 3-point range. Detroit’s defence held Orlando to 37.5% shooting.

Magic guard Evan Fournier, who scored season-highs of 28 and 29 points in the previous two games, had 14 points in the loss. He left the game in the first quarter after being hit in the jaw by Jackson's elbow. He returned in the second period and made just 4 of 14 shots in the game.

ALL-STAR AGAIN

Vucevic got an emotional lift prior to tipoff when news broke that the centre was chosen as a reserve for the March 7 All-Star Game. The 7-footer, Orlando’s only all-star since 2012 and its sixth multi-time all-star, came into Tuesday averaging a career-best 24.1 points and 11.7 rebounds.

Vucevic’s biggest area of improvement has been his 3-point shooting. Not only did Vucevic enter Tuesday shooting a career-best 40.5% from 3-point range, he also had already hit 79 shots from beyond the arc — just 19 fewer than his career best total.

TIP INS

Pistons: Detroit held 33-year-old guard Wayne Ellington out on the advice of the analytics department, head coach Dwane Casey said. Tuesday’s game would have been the eighth in 15 nights for Ellington, who has averaged 10.3 points in 23 games. … Casey said he used Lee as an example in Detroit’s team meeting. Despite having not played since Feb. 9, the rookie proved himself ready on Sunday by playing well when pressed into duty. Said Casey: “That’s what happens when you stay ready, not only physically, but mentally and thinking positive thoughts.”

Magic: Coach Steve Clifford has been consistent in saying his team wouldn’t make strides until defensive improvements were made. In their five games prior to Tuesday, the Magic went 4-1, largely because of a defensive rating that is second in the NBA since Feb. 12. … Fournier has been in and out of the lineup all season because of back spasms. When he’s played, the Magic are 10-7. However, they are 3-11 without him.

UP NEXT

Pistons: At New Orleans on Wednesday.

Magic: At Brooklyn on Thursday.

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John Denton, The Associated Press