ORLANDO – While they made some strides defensively in their last game, the Orlando Magic couldn’t put a dent in their lengthy slump.
The free-falling Magic will try to snap a four-game skid and win for only the third time in 18 games Sunday night when they host the Detroit Pistons.
Wins have been awfully tough to come by for Orlando, regardless of the venue or strength of its opponent.
The Magic (14-28) have lost nine of 10 at home and eight straight against losing teams after DeMar DeRozan hit a buzzer-beater to give last-place Toronto a 97-95 victory at Orlando on Thursday.
“I just think the basketball gods are against us right now,” said guard J.J. Redick, whose team is a league-worst 2-15 since Dec. 21. “They’ve turned their backs on us. We need to get back in their good graces.”
The Magic’s biggest area of concern has been on the defensive end, allowing 108.0 points per game – 9.1 above their season average – over their last 13.
Orlando showed signs of improvement Thursday as it held an opponent under 100 points for only the third time in 14 games. The Magic limited Toronto to 22 in the fourth quarter as they came back from an 11-point deficit to tie the game.
“That’s what we want to focus on, is being able to get stops on demand,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “That’s the basketball we need to see every night.”
Vaughn’s club, however, forced the Raptors into only 10 turnovers while falling to 1-15 when creating 10 or fewer.
The Magic rank last in the NBA with 11.9 forced turnovers per game but will try to tighten things up against Detroit, among the league’s worst in turning the ball over at 15.2 per game.
“You look what those turnovers turn into. They are hard to recover from,” coach Lawrence Frank said. “We’re not moving it where it needs to be moved.”
The Pistons, 4-16 away from home, are closing a three-game road swing following losses to first-place clubs Chicago and Miami. They had won nine of 13 before the trip.
Detroit (16-27) has averaged 85.0 points in the last two games and now returns to the city where its lowest point total of the season was posted, losing 90-74 at Orlando on Nov. 21.
Greg Monroe will try to build off his 31-point, 12-rebound effort in a 110-88 defeat to the Heat on Friday. He’s averaged 19.3 points on 57.1 percent shooting in three matchups with the Magic this season.
The Pistons snapped a three-game skid in the series with a 105-90 home win over Orlando on Tuesday. Detroit held a 54-41 advantage on the glass, including 16-6 in offensive boards, after getting outrebounded by a 97-78 margin in the first two meetings.
Orlando big men Nikola Vucevic and Glen Davis figure to play key roles in neutralizing Detroit on the boards after combining for 34 points and 21 rebounds against the Heat.
Redick has been the team’s most dangerous scorer, averaging 18.2 points and shooting 32 for 60 from 3-point range in his last nine games. He’s scored 20.0 per game in his last four against the Pistons.
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