Pistons notch easy win, gain ground in playoff race

Jan 4, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (right) and center Andre Drummond (middle) celebrate from the bench during the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons win 115-89. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 4, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (right) and center Andre Drummond (middle) celebrate from the bench during the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons win 115-89. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pistons started out the game scorching the nets and pulled away to an early 30-12 lead. But the Magic were making all the hustle plays and dominated for much of the game on both second chances and fast breaks. As the Pistons’ shooting cooled down a bit, the Magic made several runs to make a real game of it. However, late in the third quarter and on into the fourth, the Pistons started to match and even exceed the Magic’s energy and ultimately pulled back away to an easy win.

64. 102. 38. Final. 118

Coupled with losses by the Wizards and Bulls, this win should do wonders for the Pistons’ playoff odds. Expect them to be back near and maybe even above a 50/50 shot by most projections tomorrow.

On another note, Blaha really needs to learn how to read names. I understand that “Hezonja” isn’t exactly a common name in this country. But it clearly doesn’t have an “r” in it. Listening to him talk about “Herzonja” repeatedly got so annoying that I had to switch to the Magic broadcast. He’s not in the template, but he gets an honorary “F” tonight.

C+. It wasn’t Jackson’s best night. He struggled to finish around the basket and to stay in front of Payton. But he adjusted as the game went on. He started sagging way back on Payton and daring him to shoot and stopped even looking for his own shot on drives, instead finding a number of lob opportunities to Drummond.. PG. Pistons. REGGIE JACKSON

B-. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Bullock out for the game, Hilliard shockingly got the start over Stanley Johnson. Given that he had played 15 minutes in the past 8 games, I have no idea why Van Gundy chose to go that way, but Hilliard was better than I would have expected. He was clearly the weakest link in the Pistons’ starting lineup, but that was because the rest of them had average or better games. There are definitely nights when this performance wouldn’t be the worst Piston starter.. SG. Pistons. DARRUN HILLIARD II

B. When the Pistons pulled away early, Marcus Morris was leading the charge. He looked like he couldn’t miss. He cooled down as the game went on, but still ended up with a solid line. And Morris’ play was the biggest reason why the Pistons led wire to wire (except of course for the 47 seconds it took to get on the scoreboard in the first place).. SF. Pistons. MARCUS MORRIS

B. Tobias Harris continues to make the Magic look foolish for giving him away for nothing. I love it. He had yet another solid but unspectacular night in which he was still better than any of the guys he was moved to make room for. Also, he had a phenomenal series in which he blocked Elfrid Payton three times on one possession. Unfortunately, he didn’t get credited with the third block because Drummond committed a foul on that third shot attempt.. SF. Pistons. TOBIAS HARRIS

A. Drummond looked lethargic early, it was disappointing. The Pistons were blowing out the Magic but Andre was putzing around, slow to get back on defense and not imposing his will on offense. But after the Magic came back with a run of their own, the answer was Drummond, Drummond, and a little more Drummond. He was catching and finishing poorly placed lobs from multiple teammates. His hook shot looked unstoppable, almost Kareem-esque, and he willed the Pistons back into an advantage in the rebounding column from being down double digits on that count. Now if only he would play for that for games at a time instead of a quarter or two.. C. Pistons. ANDRE DRUMMOND

A-. Steve Blake was threading the needle on some exceedingly tight passes, especially to Baynes. I’d normally call that terrible decision making, but he was hitting them over and over. It was impressive.. PG. Pistons. STEVE BLAKE

Baynes put together a nice stat line, but most of the credit for that belongs with Blake who was getting him phenomenal opportunities. Still, he largely made the most of them. He only once flashed the stone hands that were his signature feature early this season.. C. Pistons. ARON BAYNES. B

D. Tolliver was mostly useless, but he also didn’t get many minutes or opportunities to make himself useful.. PF. Pistons. ANTHONY TOLLIVER

SF. Pistons. STANLEY JOHNSON. A-. As normal, Stanley Johnson racked up too many turnovers. But at least this time, they were of the bad pass variety, instead of his usual plowing straight through defenders type. That may actually be more damaging because it’s a live ball, but it is also more an inadequacy on his talent side than making stupid decisions. That’s what I’d prefer to see, because he can work on that. His decision making was fantastic this game. When Fournier tried to draw a charge on him, he pulled up and nailed a 12 footer. When he caught the ball in rhythm on the perimeter without a defender too close, he let it fly immediately instead of looking for a lane. And one of his turnovers was meaningless anyway because it was a lane violation on a free throw that Drummond missed.

STAN VAN GUNDY. B. Stan Van Gundy improved to 22-3 against Scott SKiles. That’s pretty ridiculous. And his team never trailed along the way. Very nice.. Head Coach. Pistons