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Feb 3, 2024 11:55 am

Magic looking to build momentum at Pistons’ expense

The Orlando Magic’s drive to end their three-season playoff drought gets a boost over the next four weeks. They get three matchups with the Pistons, including a visit to Detroit on Sunday afternoon.

Orlando has a 2-1 record during its current five-game road trip. After a two-point loss to Dallas, the Magic answered with a 10-point win over San Antonio and a 108-106 victory over Minnesota.

Orlando trailed by 17 in the first half against the Timberwolves and by eight points in the fourth quarter.

“They got their run early in the game,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. “So our guys didn’t panic. We continued to fight, continued to play hard, realized what we needed to do better defensively, as well as offensively.”

The Magic held the Timberwolves to 18 fourth-quarter points.

“The past two years, we were down a lot and learning how to play from behind and continue to come back,” guard Jalen Suggs said. “Now, we are learning how to close them out. Some nights are better than others, but we continue learning and we can see the progress that we are making. We are having fun doing it and everybody is growing in every aspect.”

All-Star forward Paolo Banchero, who scored 23 points on Friday, has led the Magic in scoring the last seven games. In the first meeting with the Pistons this season, Banchero and Franz Wagner combined for 51 points in a 123-91 romp on Dec. 8.

Wagner contributed 19 points and five assists and Wendell Carter Jr. had 18 points and 12 rebounds against the Timberwolves.

Orlando will close out its road trip at Miami on Tuesday. It will return to Detroit on Feb. 24, then host the Pistons on March 3.

Detroit is already guaranteed of a losing season. The Pistons are 6-42 after falling to the Los Angeles Clippers, 136-125, on Friday night.

Detroit allowed the Clippers to shoot 59.6 percent from the field and 48.3 percent on 3-point attempts. Los Angeles also benefited from turnovers, turning 17 Pistons giveaways into 25 points.

In their previous game, a 128-121 loss to Cleveland, the Cavaliers scored 29 points off 19 Detroit turnovers.

“You can’t have turnovers and some of the undisciplined errors we had against a team like that,” coach Monty Williams said after Detroit’s latest loss. “It’s something that has hurt us all season long. When we take care of (the ball), we have a better chance of success.”

Jaden Ivey led the team with 28 points but committed three turnovers, while Cade Cunningham and Bojan Bogdanovic had four apiece against the Clippers.

“That’s what it came down to tonight,” Ivey said. “I wish I would have cut some of my turnovers down but as a whole group, we turned the ball over tonight and they converted 25 points off turnovers. That’s the game right there. We shot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the 3-point line. We’ve got to give ourselves a chance and stop turning the ball over.”

Following Sunday’s contest, Detroit heads out on a five-game West Coast trip prior to the All-Star break.

–Field Level Media

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