Detroit — The Pistons snapped a six-game losing streak with a dominant 121-101 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
There were several storylines from the game, which included a bench-clearing altercation, a nearly-perfect shooting night from Alec Burks and another noteworthy rebounding performance for Pistons rookie Jalen Duren.
Tempers flared during the first half as Detroit held a commanding 19-point lead with 33.2 seconds left in the second quarter when three players were ejected after an altercation between Magic forward Moritz Wagner and Pistons guard Killian Hayes.
Hayes was chasing a loose ball when the former Michigan Wolverine Wagner blatantly pushed him out of bounds toward the Pistons’ bench. Pistons forward Hamidou Diallo then pushed Wagner in the back and a furious Hayes retaliated with an apparent punch to the back of Wagner’s head.
The entire Pistons bench surrounded Wagner, before the entire Magic bench, including players and coaches, cleared and rushed over to the area of the altercation.
The officials reviewed the play for nearly 10 minutes before Wagner, Diallo, and Hayes were each assessed flagrant foul two penalties and ejected from the game.
“I was upset because, from my understanding of the rule, when you leave your bench to go get in an altercation, you’re escalating,” said Pistons coach Dwane Casey. “My thing is, the things being said by their players and coaches that were not de-escalating the situation.”
At the time of the incident, Markelle Fultz, Kaleb Houstan, Wagner, Bol Bol and Paolo Banchero were on the court. Seven Magic players — Cole Anthony, Mo Bamba, Kevon Harris, R.J. Hampton, Admiral Schofield, Wendell Carter and Franz Wagner — left their bench and ran over to the Pistons’ bench.
“We have to go back and look at the film to see exactly what happened,” said Magic coach Jamahl Mosley. “I was just worried and concerned about my guys that were down there on the bench, down there making sure they got away from that side.”
Wagner had already ruffled the Pistons’ feathers earlier in the quarter when he got into Diallo’s face after a hard foul in the first quarter. Duren and forward Saddiq Bey rushed to Diallo’s defense and the teams had to be separated.
Diallo was playing well before his ejection with 11 points and five points off the bench. Hayes totaled five points, two rebounds and three assists. Wagner finished the game with seven points and four rebounds.
After halftime, Detroit continued to cruise on offense thanks to Alec Burks, who had a nearly-perfect game and led the Pistons with 32 points on a 10-of-11 shooting night. He connected on six of his seven 3-pointers and all four of his free throws.
“I was just shooting, like every other game,” Burks said after the win. “It just happened to go in.”
Saddiq Bey complimented Burks with 28 points and eight rebounds off the bench on 8-of-16 shooting from the field, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.
“I just tried to stay in a rhythm,” Bey said. “A lot of the guards found me with great passes and I just tried to take my shots and be confident. I just wanted to help the team as much as possible to get the win.”
Duren, who’s shown his ability to command the boards, tallied 18 rebounds, one shy of his career-high, to go along with seven points and four assists.
Wagner’s brother, Franz Wagner, led the Magic with 19 points, six rebounds and three assists. Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, had 15 points and five rebounds. Wendell Carter Jr. had 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
The Pistons and Magic were completely different teams when they met on Opening Night.
Cade Cunningham was still in the lineup for the Pistons, but Burks and Marvin Bagley III were sidelined due to injuries. This time around, Cunningham was unavailable due to season-ending surgery. Bagley didn’t play either, due to a non-Covid illness.
The Pistons and Magic will meet two more times this season: Both games, held on Feb. 23 and April 2, will be played in Orlando.
The Pistons desperately needed a win following their six-game skid and they’ll now prepare for a five-game road trip, starting in Chicago on Friday.