ORLANDO — With the Detroit Pistons trailing by three points, Jaden Ivey hit the biggest shot of his career.
He knocked down a pull-up 3-pointer with 4.5 seconds left to tie the game at 106. Paolo Banchero, the No. 1 overall pick last summer, missed a layup in the final seconds, but Wendell Carter Jr. cleaned it up with a game-winning last-second putback dunk to give the Orlando Magic a thrilling 108-106 victory over the Pistons on Thursday.
It was one of the best nights of Ivey’s career, as the No. 5 pick in 2022 finished with 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting. He kept the Pistons within striking distance in the final minutes, hitting a 3-pointer with 2:22 remaining to cut the deficit to one, 100-99. He followed that with a tough, contested midrange jumper a minute later to cut it to three, 104-101, before drawing a foul on Michigan State alumnus Gary Harris during Detroit’s next possession.
Ivey missed both free throws, but Detroit retained possession. The officials initially ruled that the rebound went out of bounds off the Pistons, but Banchero appeared to touch it last and Dwane Casey won the challenge. Franz Wagner gave Orlando a three-point lead with a pair of free throws before Ivey’s game-tying 3.
The Pistons’ turnover issues cost them, they had 21 — two shy of their season-high — for 21 Magic points. Detroit was otherwise the superior team, shooting 45.7% overall and knocking down 17-of-34 3-pointers. The Magic shot 41.1% overall and 12-for-31 from 3, respectively, but committed just 14 turnovers against 27 assists.
Alec Burks scored 16 points, and Hamidou Diallo and Killian Hayes added 12 points each. James Wiseman nearly tallied a double-double with eight points, 10 rebounds and a block. Michigan alumnus Franz Wagner led Orlando with 21 points.
Ivey, Burks carry Pistons in first half
During the Pistons’ pregame shootaround on Thursday, Ivey said he wanted the team to close out the season on a competitive note. He certainly did his part.
Ivey got going early, knocking down a midrange jumper and a pair of 3-pointers in the first seven minutes of the game. A pair of free throws toward the end of the opening period, and another 3-pointer in the second period gave him 13 points at halftime.
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Burks also started off hot, completing a four-point play at the 2:33 mark of the first quarter after Jalen Suggs closed out too hard on him. He made the ensuing free throw, and then split a trip at the line and knocked down another 3 with 49 seconds on the clock to give himself eight points in just four minutes. He kept rolling in the second quarter, hitting his third 3-pointer of the night early in the second for 11 points on just three shots.
It was a sloppy first half for the Pistons, who committed 12 turnovers. The Magic shot just 34% but entered halftime with a 47-46 lead, largely due to taking 13 more shots thanks to Detroit’s turnover woes. Remove Ivey and Burks, and the Pistons shot 8-for-29 (27.5%) in the first two periods.
Diallo spearheads third quarter surge
It’s been a breakout season for Diallo, who has established himself as one of the NBA’s best finishers and the Pistons’ resident energy-generator. He scored eight points during a 17-2 Pistons run in the third period that rescued them from a potential blowout loss.
Isaiah Stewart (10 points) knocked down his second 3-pointer of the night to give Detroit a 56-55 lead with eight minutes remaining in the quarter. Then, the Magic threatened to put the game away with a 15-0 run. Wagner and Markelle Fultz both completed 3-point plays in that stretch, and Banchero capped the run with a midrange jumper with fewer than six minutes to play.
Burks snapped the run with his fourth 3-pointer, and Diallo helped Detroit close the quarter on a strong note. He scored eight points and assisted an Isaiah Livers 3-pointer in the final 3:06 of the period, completing two transition dunks, a wrong-footed layup and a pair of free throws. The pass to Livers followed another drive, as he kept his head up and placed the pass perfectly to the corner.
It was one of Diallo’s best stretches. He gave up an open layup to Suggs midway through the fourth quarter that allowed the Magic to take a four-point lead, but it was one of the only blights on a night he nearly helped the Pistons to a comeback.
Wiseman struggles offensively, but makes defensive impact
After reaching double figures in his Pistons debut against the Boston Celtics last Wednesday, Wiseman came out cold on Thursday. He didn’t make his first field goal until late in the third quarter, when Bojan Bogdanovic found him open for a layup. Wiseman had missed his first four shots, including a 3-pointer early in the second.
What he lacked in offensive output, he tried to make up for on defense. Casey called Wiseman a “deterrent” on Wednesday, and it proved to be accurate. He camped the lane, and disrupted several of Orlando’s drives to the rim. He finished with only one block, but his size and length gave him upside on that end of the floor and helped him make an impact that wasn’t reflected on the stat sheet.
Wiseman found his touch in the second half, hitting four of six shots and a jump hook that brought the Pistons within a point with 9.5 seconds left.
Contact Omari Sankofa II at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.
Next up: Raptors
Matchup: Pistons (15-45) vs. Toronto (29-31).
Tipoff: Noon Saturday; Little Caesars Arena, Detroit.
TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit; WXYT-FM (97.1).