NBA Basketball

Pistons look to start streak against Magic

A little over a month ago, Blake Griffin made his debut with the Detroit Pistons.

The first week went well, but since then the Pistons have faltered.

When they visit the Orlando Magic on Friday night, the Pistons will be seeking consecutive wins for the first time in nearly a month.

Detroit is 6-6 in 13 games since Griffin scored 24 points in his debut on Feb. 1 in a 104-102 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

When the Pistons (29-32) obtained Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris on Jan. 30, they had lost eight straight before beating Cleveland shortly after the deal was completed.

Griffin's arrival occurred in the second game of a five-game winning streak that pushed Detroit one game above .500 on Feb. 7 after beating the Brooklyn Nets. Detroit then lost six of its next seven, with five of those defeats coming by double digits.

Detroit bounced back nicely by dominating the paint and the boards in a 110-87 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday. The Pistons outscored the Bucks 56-34 in the paint, and finished with 22 offensive rebounds and a 57-35 rebounding edge.

Griffin had a quiet night with eight points and nine rebounds, but Andre Drummond posted his career-high 16th straight double-double with 15 points and 16 boards. Stanley Johnson added 19 points as Detroit's reserves totaled 63 points.

"We've got some talented guys on this team," Johnson told reporters. "When we can play our game and get stops and get in transition we're going to be hard to beat.

"We're not a team that's lacking in confidence. We've got guys that can play well and churn out wins. We played hard tonight and that's where it starts. We've got to continue that."

Detroit held a team below 90 points for the fifth time this season and the first time since limiting Brooklyn to 80 points in a 34-point win on Jan. 12.

The Pistons are trying to hold a team below 90 in consecutive games for the first time since doing it for three straight games from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, 2016 vs. Orlando, Milwaukee and New York.

Friday begins a stretch with nine of 12 games outside of Detroit, which visits eighth-place Miami on Saturday and Cleveland on Monday. After playing Toronto and Chicago at home, the Pistons go on a six-game trip against Western Conference teams and by then Detroit is hopeful Reggie Jackson can return from missing more than two months with a sprained right ankle.

Orlando (18-43) holds the worst record in the Eastern Conference and is on its fourth losing streak of at least seven games. The Magic are coming off a 117-104 home loss to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

Orlando shot 76 percent from the floor in the first quarter but ultimately wilted in the fourth quarter. The Magic trailed by one with 7:12 remaining but did not make a basket in the next five minutes while the Raptors pulled away.

"We're losing these games because we don't get together defensively," Orlando's Evan Fournier told reporters. "If we want to change that we have to do a better job defensively."

The Magic allowed at least 115 points for the third time in this streak and 20th time overall. Orlando also allowed the Raptors to shoot 54.2 percent, marking the 23rd time an opponent shot at least 50 percent from the field.

"We're working at (the defense), that's the frustrating part," Magic coach Frank Vogel told reporters. "We are game-planning and preparing. The drill work that we do defensively is probably more than anyone in the league is doing right now and we are just not seeing the results yet. We have to keep pounding the rock."

Wednesday's loss repeated the pattern from Monday's five-point loss at Oklahoma City. On Monday, the Magic shot 56 percent and scored 62 points by halftime, but those totals dropped to 42 percent and 43 points in the final two quarters.

"It's been an issue for us all year long," Magic center Nikola Vucevic told reporters. "We have to figure out how to do a better job defensively, follow the game plan, compete and make the extra effort out there. We don't (make) enough of those plays consistently."

Orlando is hosting Detroit for the second time while on a lengthy losing streak. On Dec. 28, the Magic halted a nine-game skid with a 102-89 victory when they outscored the Pistons 25-16 in the fourth quarter.

Updated March 1, 2018

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