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Magic end three-game skid with win over Pistons

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The Canadian Press
12/27/2013 10:55:40 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- During the Magic's recent struggles one of the few constants has been the offence provided by Arron Afflalo.

The veteran provided another reminder of why he's so indispensable for a young team trying to find itself.

Afflalo scored 23 points to lead five Orlando players in double-figures and the Magic snapped a three-game losing streak with a 109-92 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

Orlando led the Pistons by as many as 22 points and cruised in the fourth quarter. Afflalo said the victory was one of the most complete efforts the Magic have posted in recent memory.

"It's good to get a win at home for once," said Afflalo, who has scored at least 20 points in five straight outings. "I don't think we've won here this month. It was pretty impressive defensively. I thought the bigs did a great job trying to fight their bigs all night rebounding. I thought we shared the ball throughout the game, made the right play.

"When we play like that I think we're pretty good."

The Magic's leading scorer this season, Afflalo played eight minutes of the third quarter after lightly turning his left ankle. But after coming out of the game briefly, he was able to finish the period -- scoring six points -- before resting in the fourth.

"The ankle, it's one of those things where if you can fight through it, you go ahead and play," he said.

The victory halted a five-game home losing streak for the Magic, who hadn't won at the Amway Center since the day before Thanksgiving.

Nik Vucevic added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and rookie Victor Oladipo finished with 16 points and a career-high 11 assists.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn thought Friday's effort was sparked by what he called a surprisingly "intense" practice for this time of year.

"That has to be our signature -- we have to come to work," he said. "I always tell them I don't know what results that's going to lead to wins and losses-wise, but you can look yourself in the mirror and appreciate what you do for a living, and your teammates appreciate you when you come to work."

Brandon Jennings had 21 points and Will Bynum added 18 for the Pistons, who had a streak of three consecutive road victories ended.

"From the start of the game, we just couldn't get anything going. We got a couple stops in the third quarter, but we couldn't score, and it just kept going downhill from there," Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We couldn't get anything going offensively, they pushed the ball down our throat defensively, and then we didn't make any shots."

The Pistons, who claimed eight of their 14 wins on the road, never found a flow on offence. They shot 41 per cent for the game, and were outscored in the paint 58-48.

"We had no sense of urgency and we didn't muster energy at all tonight," Jennings said. "It's got to be a collective unit to try to get it back together, but we didn't have it tonight."

In some of their recent losses Orlando had started fast, only to fall apart late in the games.

The Magic jumped out to another early lead, but this time were able to sustain it with a variety of scoring bursts that kept the Pistons playing catch up for most of the night.

Orlando hovered over 50 per cent shooting throughout and carried a 19-point lead into the fourth quarter.

The Magic carved out their early advantage shooting 56 per cent in the opening 24 minutes to take a 55-48 lead into halftime.

Glen Davis had eight points in less than five minutes and then yielded to Afflalo, who finished the half with 12 points. Oladipo and Tobias Harris each added 10 points.

Afflalo said there's no secret to what it will take for the Magic to have another "good night" like Friday.

"Just get after it, man. There's no mystery," he said. "We know what we need to do -- same focus, same effort. It starts with our preparation in shootaround, our intensity, attention to detail. And keeping our foot on the gas pedal."

NOTES: The Magic improved to 5-6 when they score 100 or more points. ... Pistons G Chauncey Billups opted to continue his recent program of resting his tendinitis-affected knee on the first game of back-to-backs. Cheeks said Billups is expected to play when Detroit visits Washington on Saturday.

Ronnie Price dunks (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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