Stan Van Gundy and many of his players claim that their team rejuvenated its spirit in recent days. They cannot pinpoint how it happened, exactly. They only say that something changed just before or during their gritty win Saturday night in Philadelphia.
Whatever the origins, they continued to ride that momentum Monday night.
Even though they were missing All-NBA center Dwight Howard and key playmaker Hedo Turkoglu to injuries, plus backup point guard Chris Duhon to a one-game suspension, the Magic routed the Detroit Pistons 119-89 at Amway Center.
"I think things can happen that can spur on a sense of urgency," J.J. Redick said.
Was it the recent five-game losing streak? All the injuries? The public tiff between Van Gundy and Howard?
Perhaps it was all three, but the Magic seem like a team that performs its best when it has some kind of adversity to overcome.
You couldn't argue with their effort against the Pistons.
Glen Davis, starting again in Howard's place, scored 16 points and collected 16 rebounds.
Jason Richardson added 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting, and Jameer Nelson chipped in with 18 points and nine assists.
Redick added 20 points, while Ryan Anderson returned from a three-game absence because of a sprained ankle to contribute 14 points and seven rebounds.
"Let's hope we make this a habit because it's two games in a row now where we've just played harder for longer than we have the rest of the year," Van Gundy said. "Why that is, I don't know, but our intensity in the last two games has been above what it's been the rest of the year. Let's hope that continues."
The Magic (34-23) seized control during the second quarter.
Ignited by Davis and rarely used third-string point guard Ish Smith, they went on a 17-4 run. Davis started it rolling with a layup off a pass from Smith, and Smith followed on Orlando's next trip down the court with a floater from 8 feet. The Magic led 52-30 when the run ended.
Smith made the most of his opportunity to play Monday.
In almost 19 minutes, the speedy reserve scored six points, dished out seven assists with just one turnover and recorded three steals.
"Sometimes you've got to cause some kind of havoc in the middle and get open shots for other guys," Smith said.
The Pistons (21-36), who were clobbered the night before by the Miami Heat, lost their footing and never regained it.
"We didn't show up tonight and that is disappointing," Detroit's Ben Gordon said. "They played like a team that has a purpose -- and they do."
Davis said he felt a renewed energy during the morning shootaround.
Then, about seven hours later, he set the tone by scoring six points and grabbing nine rebounds in the first quarter.
"Everybody's on one page," he said. "I've never felt like we've been on such a page. We've been a good team the whole year, but I just think these last couple of games, especially the Philly game, we've been on the same page."
With the win, the Magic remained in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings, one game behind the third-place Indiana Pacers. If the season had ended Monday night, Orlando would have been matched against Indiana, with the Pacers holding homecourt advantage.
The Magic looked like a tough team to beat.
"We played a great game," Anderson said. "We helped each other. We had each other's backs."
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