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Oladipo sparks Magic against Pistons

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ORLANDO, Fla. — A little more time on the bench worked wonders for rookie guard Victor Oladipo.

Oladipo responded to his move Wednesday from starter to reserve by playing his best game in weeks, leading the Orlando Magic to a 112-98 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

Oladipo, who had shot just 25 percent in the previous four games as a starter, hit 8 of 10 shots for 20 points in just 28 minutes Wednesday and sparked Orlando’s third consecutive victory at home.

“I think the past couple games I was just thinking too much. Tonight I just played,” Oladipo said. “As a starter, you can kind of ease into the game. As a reserve, you have to be ready to play immediately. I was ready. It doesn’t matter to me how I’m used. I just like to play.”

He made all four of his free throws and added four rebounds, three assists and two steals while committing just one turnover.

Oladipo was a part of Orlando’s cast of reserves that outscored the Detroit reserves 47-20, providing more than enough to make up the difference when the starters were outplayed.

“We needed them (reserves) tonight,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “And we needed them to play well. This is a team game, and everyone has to contribute.”

The Magic (14-37) never trailed in the second half. The Pistons (19-29) never got closer than 10 points in the fourth quarter, offering little resistance beyond their starting five.

Pistons forward Josh Smith led everyone with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Guard Brandon Jennings had 15 points and 10 assists. Center Andre Drummond had 15 points and 14 rebounds. Guard Kyle Singler, in his second start this season, had 11 points and hit 3 of 4 3-point shots.

“They (Magic reserves) played well tonight, and we basically had no answer,” Singler said. “We just couldn’t counter their energy and the way they were playing.”

Magic forward Glen Davis had 18 points, and guard Arron Afflalo and reserve forward Maurice Harkless each added 15.

The Magic made 18 of 20 free throws and shot 49.4 percent (44 of 89). They held a 44-36 rebounding advantage. They also had 29 assists, including 11 from starting point guard Jameer Nelson.

The Magic led by as many as 20 points in the third period, but they got careless late, allowing the Pistons to close with a flurry. Smith had 11 points in the third.

The Magic led 57-43 at intermission after Oladipo sparked them with a strong second quarter. By halftime, they had 17 assists and four players with at least eight points.

Oladipo had 10 points in the second period and eight points in the fourth to keep the Pistons down.

“He (Oladipo) is going to figure this out,” Vaughn said. “He’s going to continue to get better and better. It’s about trusting each other, and keeping it simple.”

Both Davis and Afflalo had 10 points by halftime. The Pistons also got 10 points from Drummond and Jennings.

The Magic led by as many as 14 in the first half, despite taking just four free throws. The Pistons, conversely, made 11 of 17 free throws in the half. But they also committed 11 turnovers.

NOTES: Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said he moved G Kyle Singler into the starting lineup — just his second start of the season — to match up better with Magic G Arron Afflalo. … Magic PG Jameer Nelson returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a sore left knee. … Pistons backup C Josh Harrellson missed his second consecutive game with a sore knee. … Despite their struggles this season, the Pistons came into Wednesday’s game leading the NBA in points in the lane (51.7 ppg). Even after replacing rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with Singler on Wednesday, the Pistons still have the third-youngest starting lineup (averaging 24.2 years) in the league. … The Pistons, like many young teams, have struggled to finish games. They have lost 17 games after leading in the fourth quarter, including nine after leading by at least five points. … G Rookie Victor Oladipo is the only Magic player to play in all 51 games. … The Magic are 3-26 this season when allowing an opponent to score 100 points or more.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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