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Magic race past Van Gundy’s Pistons

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Tobias Harris tossed around compliments after the Orlando Magic passed the ball better than they had all season.

The Magic collected a season-high 33 assists, seven more than they had in any of their first 11 games, as they defeated the Detroit Pistons and their former coach Stan Van Gundy 107-93 Monday night at The Palace.

Harris benefited from the ball movement, scoring 16 of his 24 points after halftime.

“We finally embraced that unselfishness that we talk about all the time,” said Harris, who had four assists to go along five of his team’s nine steals. “We did an amazing job of moving the ball around. Everybody was getting touches, we were being crisp and we were getting shots at the rim. That helped us get back on defense and do what we’re supposed to do.”

Orlando (5-7) gathered strength as the game wore on, outscoring Detroit (3-8) 29-17 in the fourth quarter.

“If you could write a script, that’s how we want to play every single game,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We trusted each other, no matter what time of the game. I think we had 10 assists in the fourth quarter alone.”

Center Nikola Vucevic powered for 25 points and 14 rebounds to spoil Van Gundy’s first game against the team he coached for five seasons. Shooting guard Evan Fournier supplied 14 points and eight assists, power forward Channing Frye contributed 12 points, and guard Victor Oladipo added 11 points for Orlando.

“It took us a half to really get into a groove,” Harris said. “For me, I just want us to be consistent. It’s good to do it once, it’s better to do it two or three times, and winning teams do it all the time.”

Reserve forward Caron Butler led the Pistons with 20 points, and guard Brandon Jennings had 18. Center Andre Drummond chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds, but the Pistons’ starting forwards, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith, combined for 13 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

“When we don’t get our inside game going, we struggle,” Van Gundy said. “Our inside game never got going at all. That’s an area we thought we could do some damage and we didn’t. Those guys just had a rough night.”

Orlando forward Aaron Gordon, the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft, missed his first game after fracturing his left foot Saturday in the Magic’s 98-93 loss to the Washington Wizards.

The Pistons held a 26-15 rebounding advantage in the first half, which helped them take a 52-49 halftime lead.

Frye, who went scoreless and committed three fouls in the first half, got rolling from outside to lift the Magic in the third quarter. He and Vucevic combined for the first 10 points of the half while the Pistons went scoreless for three minutes.

Frye’s third 3-pointer of the quarter gave Orlando a 70-61 lead. That was swiftly erased by a 12-2 Detroit spurt, capped by a Butler 3-pointer. The trey provided the last of Butler’s 13 points during the quarter, but the Magic carried a 78-76 lead into the fourth.

“We knew they were going to space us and spread us out,” Smith said. “They have bigs that can space the floor as well as their perimeter (players). We didn’t do a good job running them off the 3-point line or protecting the paint all night.”

Harris scored seven points in the first two minutes of the final quarter to make it 85-78. A pair of three-point plays by Drummond kept the Pistons close, but Harris’ layup with 4:10 remaining increased Orlando’s lead to 98-90.

Vucevic’s turnaround jumper made it 103-93 with 1:53 left. The Magic shot 55 percent in the second half and outrebounded the Pistons 24-15.

“That’s team basketball, and that’s how we’re built,” Vaughn said. “Hopefully, guys continue to understand that’s how we have to play to win.”

NOTES: Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said his rotation is still in flux. “When you’re not winning, you’re not happy with what you’re doing,” he said. “You’re still tinkering. Our lineup has gotten off to decent starts most games. After that, it’s been hit or miss.” … Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said the loss of rookie PF Aaron Gordon (fractured left foot) will hurt most on defense. “Because of Aaron’s ability to guard most positions, it could be two guys (to replace him) instead of one,” he said. … Magic C Kyle O’Quinn (sprained left ankle) and SG Devyn Marble (strained rotator cuff) were also sidelined. … Orlando won last season’s series, 2-1. The teams play three more times this season. … Pistons PF Greg Monroe has 40 games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds since 2011-12, trailing only Cleveland F LeBron James (42) among Eastern Conference players.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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