Orlando — The Pistons were tested in every way imaginable in their first game after the All-Star break.
The final two plays of Thursday’s game against the Orlando Magic showed that the game isn’t over until the final buzzer sounds.
Pistons rookie Jaden Ivey nailed a clutch 3-pointer to tie the game at 106 with five seconds remaining. The Magic had enough time for one play and Rookie of the Year frontrunner Paolo Banchero attempted a layup and missed, but Wendell Carter Jr. tipped the ball in at the buzzer, bringing the crowd inside Amway Arena to its feet.
After an official review, the basket was ruled good and the Pistons were dealt a 108-106 loss.
The third quarter of Thursday’s game against the Magic was full of highs and lows. Detroit fell into a 14-point hole as they struggled to take care of the ball and execute their offense. Orlando capitalized during this time and scored 15 consecutive points. However, thanks to a surging effort by Hamidou Diallo, the Pistons were able to overcome the Magic’s run to head into the fourth quarter trailing by just one.
Detroit, which had defeated Orlando in their previous two meetings at Little Caesars Arena, battled tooth-and-nail until the game’s waning moments. The Pistons came within one point late in the game after Jaden Ivey knocked a 3-pointer but Markelle Fultz scored a reverse layup on the other end, giving the Magic a 102-99 lead.
The Pistons had the ball after a successful challenge by Dwane Casey with 16.9 seconds left for a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer, but they cut the lead to one after a timely hook shot by James Wiseman.
A couple of Magic free throws later, the Pistons had the ball with eight seconds left when Ivey created enough separation to drain the 3-pointer to tie the game down the stretch.
The Pistons couldn’t overcome their own self-inflicted mistakes with 21 turnovers, along with the Magic and their length.
Ivey led Detroit with 25 points and he made several plays to keep Detroit in the final minutes of the game. Alec Burks totaled 16 points, four rebounds and five assists. Diallo finished with 12 points, eight of which were in the final three minutes of the third quarter. Killian Hayes also had 12 points and five assists.
Magic forward Franz Wagner led Orlando with 21 points and five rebounds. Cole Anthony had 15 points, four rebounds and four assists off the bench. Gary Harris made four of his eight attempts from the 3-point line and totaled 12 points.
No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero struggled on offense, finishing with just 11 points, six rebounds and six assists. Despite his 4-of-13 shooting night, he knocked down a mid-range jumper to give the Magic a four-point lead with 3:49 left in the game.
Here are a few other observations from Thursday’s loss:
Ivey‘s shooting: The Pistons rookie, fresh off his first NBA All-Star Weekend, came out of the break with more confidence in his jump-shot. Ivey appeared more poised and under co knocked down his first shot from mid-range, followed by a rhythm 3-pointer. He knocked down his second 3 of the game when Isaiah Stewart found him coming of a screen at the top of the key. Ivey made 9-of-13 from the field, including 5-of-7 from the 3-point line. If Ivey can continue to shoot the ball at an effective clip, he’ll be poised to make a late-season leap similar to that of Cade Cunningham during last season.
Burks boost: Burks appeared to have return from the break well-rested. The veteran guard finished with 11 points off the bench. Less than a minute after entering the game late in the first quarter, Burks had difficulty creating space away from Jalen Suggs but he quickly rose for a three-pointer. Suggs fouled him but the shot still went down, leading to a four-point play. Burks has a knack for drawing shooting fouls on long jumpers, and Ivey has picked up the same tendency.
Wiseman’s rough night: James Wiseman’s second game as a Piston didn’t start exactly how he would’ve liked. The 7-foot center struggled to find a groove offensively, as he went scoreless with four rebounds and three turnovers in the first half. Wiseman was solid defensively as he altered several shots and blocked a layup attempt by Markelle Fultz, however, that moment was spoiled when Banchero crashed the boards for an offensive rebound and drew Wiseman’s third foul of the first half. Wiseman had a better outing in the second half, finishing with eight points, 10 rebounds and a clutch basket to bring the Pistons within one point in the game’s final seconds.
Special appearance: Despite being waived by the Magic on Tuesday, R.J. Hampton was in attendance for Thursday’s game. However, instead of sitting on Orlando’s bench, he sat courtside to watch his old team play his new team. The Pistons officially announced Hampton’s signing after the game. During the game Hampton cheered for the Pistons and he walked out of the team’s tunnel at the beginning of the third quarter. Early in the second quarter, he clapped his hands as Cory Joseph brought the ball up the court. Hampton should be available to make his Pistons debut at Little Caesars Arena on Saturday.