Tobias Harris' defense keys the Magic's 109-92 win over the Pistons

Josh Smith has tormented the Orlando Magic for years now. He brings size, speed and explosiveness to the small forward position, and few Magic players in recent years have been able to slow him down.

On Friday night, the task of limiting Smith fell to Tobias Harris, a 21-year-old whose supposed weakness is his defense. Magic officials want to use the upcoming weeks and months to learn whether Harris can be their long-term solution at small forward.

Can Harris guard opposing wing players effectively?

That question remains open to debate, but the Magic had to be encouraged by what Harris did against Smith. Harris helped his team engineer a decisive, badly needed 109-92 win over the Detroit Pistons at Amway Center. The Magic snapped a three-game losing streak, and they did it primarily by limiting the Pistons to 41 percent shooting.

"I think tonight we focused on defense first instead of offense, and I think going forward that's going to be key for us," Harris said.

Smith made just two of his 13 shot attempts and finished with a paltry five points — largely because of Harris' efforts.

"I think he's been very committed to the defensive end of the floor," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said of Harris. "I think you saw that tonight with his ability to offer resistance to Josh on the post and then trusting his teammates would give him help."

The Magic won at home for the first time since Nov. 27 — a span of exactly one month — and played their most complete game in weeks.

They made 53 percent of their shot attempts, which limited the Pistons' fastbreak opportunities. The Magic also received contributions from all corners of their roster, from starting power forward Glen Davis to third-string point guard Ronnie Price.

Rookie Victor Oladipo scored 16 points and distributed a career-high 11 assists.

And Arron Afflalo tortured the Pistons, his first NBA team, by scoring a game-high 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting.

"It's good to get a win at home, for once," Afflalo said, a smile crossing his face.

"I don't think we won here this month, so 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 and made the right play for the most part. When we play like that, I think we're pretty good."

Detroit (14-17) began the night with a clear advantage on the boards because of its tall, athletic frontcourt of Smith, 6-foot-11 power forward Greg Monroe and 6-foot-11 center Andre Drummond.

But although the Pistons dominated the offensive boards early, scoring their first six points on second-chance opportunities, they quickly faded.

Monroe picked up his second personal foul with five minutes remaining in the first quarter when Davis took a charge. Drummond committed his third foul midway through the second quarter as Oladipo drove to the hoop, absorbed contact by Drummond and scored on the play.

"I can't tell the refs what to do," Drummond said after the game. "What they feel is a foul they are going to call a foul. I just play hard."

The Magic (9-20) maintained the pressure in the third quarter.

As they shot almost 57 percent in the period, they limited the Pistons to 30 percent shooting.

Harris finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but his points weren't as important as his defense on Smith.

Harris said he wanted to "challenge" Smith and "make him take tough shots."

"Just play hard," Harris added. "I think that's the biggest thing anytime I go up against a guy who's looked at as a great small forward in the NBA: just to challenge him and make him take tough shots." Read his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad