Pistons lose close one to Magic in regular season finale
Terrance Harris, Ap Sports Writer
11:11 PM, Apr 12, 2017
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Aaron Gordon had 32 points and 12 rebounds, Elfrid Payton scored 21 points and the Orlando Magic overcame a late-run by Detroit to win their season-finale 113-109 Wednesday night.
The Magic, who led by as many as 21 points in the first quarter, allowed the Pistons to surge ahead in the fourth quarter in a game matching two non-playoff teams. But Orlando made enough plays behind Payton and Gordon to avoid yet another disheartening loss as the season closed.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith both scored 20 points each to lead Detroit.
In game in which both teams played many of their reserves major minutes, the Pistons outscored Orlando in the second, third and fourth quarters but their 21-point first-quarter deficit proved difficult to overcome.
After seeming to lose the momentum, the Magic bounced back in the waning moments with Payton hitting three straight shots to pull Orlando from a one-point deficit. His jumper in the lane with 18 seconds remaining all but sealed it, putting the Magic ahead 111-106. Reggie Bullock knocked down a 3-pointer seconds later to make it interesting, but Orlando reserve Marcus Georges-Hunt converted two free throws with 11.8 seconds to put an end to the threat.
The Pistons took their first lead of the night when Darrun Hilliard converted two free throws to put them ahead 92-90 with 8:29 to play in the game. Orlando scored just two points in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter as Detroit used an 11-0 run
Orlando seemed to be in control early in the third quarter, but the Pistons went on a late run to pull within five points of the lead and then entered the fourth quarter trailing only 87-81. The Magic had few defensive answers for Caldwell-Pope and Smith, who scored 13 and nine points, respectively in the third quarter as the Pistons overcame an 18-point deficit early in the quarter.
After an impressive start, the Magic cooled some in the second quarter as the Pistons reduced a one-time 21-point deficit to a manageable 59-49 going into halftime. Reggie Bullock and Henry Ellenson came off the bench to hit some big shots for Detroit in the second quarter to lead them back from a 38-17 hole after the first quarter.
Pistons: Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said he decided to play Tobias Harris in the season finale because this marks the first time in his career he has played in all 82 games in a season. ... The Pistons missed their first six 3-point attempts of the first quarter and ended the quarter converting just one for nine from 3-point range. ... The Pistons had three reserves score in double figures with Bullock scoring 17, Ellenson scored 12 and Boban Marjanovic had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Magic: Vucevic finished the season with a team-high 38 double-doubles after scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds on the night. ... Forward Jeff Green, who will become a free agent this offseason, missed his ninth straight game due a back injury. ...The Magic's new D-League franchise that will play in Lakeland, Fla. beginning next season will also be named the Magic, the team announced Wednesday. ... The Magic converted six of 10 from 3-point range in the first quarter to help them take a commanding 21-point lead going into the second quarter. ...The 19,458 in attendance at Amway Center was announced as the largest home crowd in Magic history. ... Mario Hezonja's 11 rebounds were a career high.