The Orlando Magic defeated the Detroit Pistons 119-112 on Monday night, thanks to Mo Bamba’s 22 points and 15 rebounds, both career highs.
With the possible exception of lottery positioning, Saddiq Bey led Detroit with 26 points in a game with little at stake. The Pistons (19-46) have the NBA’s second-worst record. Orlando is now tied with Oklahoma City for the fourth-worst record (21-44). Idle Minnesota (20-45) is in the middle.
On this night, the list of injuries and absences was lengthy. Wayne Ellington (calf), Jerami Grant (right knee), Cory Joseph (left ankle), Rodney McGruder (right elbow), Jahlil Okafor, Mason Plumlee (rest), and Dennis Smith Jr. were all out for Detroit (left knee Soreness).
Devin Cannady (right ankle), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), James Ennis III (right calf), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Chuma Okeke (left ankle), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot), and Terrence Ross were all out for the Magic (back).
“We want to win,” Bamba said. “We don’t necessarily want to take any excuses that we’re down a man or anything. At the end of the day, we’re a young, hungry team that wants to win.”
The Magic were also without coach Steve Clifford, who was out for the sixth time in a row. Clifford has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols for COVID-19, according to the team, and will return to the bench against Boston on Wednesday night.
Clifford tested positive for the virus last month, in the middle of two vaccinations.
“The players have responded and continued to do the things that we’ve talked about all year,” said Ty Corbin, who has filled in as acting coach. “I’ve had nothing but great support.”
The Magic led 51-48 at halftime and shot 13 of 18 from the field in the third quarter. Orlando led 88-78 going into the fourth quarter.
“I guess young guys think that you don’t have to come out and compete every night,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We’re not talented enough across the board to not come out and play hard.”
Detroit was within three points late, but Iggy Brazdeikis hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to put the game out of reach, 112-106.