The Orlando Magic kick off their return from the NBA All-Star break at home, welcoming the visiting Detroit Pistons on Thursday.
Orlando went into the break with a 123-113 loss at Toronto, a setback that came on the heels of the Magic winning four of their previous six.
Wendell Carter Jr. delivered his second-highest scoring performance of the season in the loss with 26 points, adding six rebounds and five assists. Jalen Suggs posted his second-highest point total of the campaign with 24 points off the bench.
Despite struggling offensively — scoring 13 points vs. Toronto, almost seven fewer than his team-leading 19.9 per game — Paolo Banchero returns off a strong showing in the Rising Stars Game. Banchero scored nine of Team Pau’s 40 points in the semifinal round of the All-Star weekend’s showcase for young talent.
Banchero earned Rookie of the Month for January. He is tops among the league’s freshman class in scoring, fourth in rebounding at 6.6 per game, and third in assists with 3.6.
“Definitely something I want to accomplish, I just gotta keep working,” Banchero said of winning Rookie of the Year in an interview with Yahoo during All-Star weekend. “Keep trying to do what’s best for the team. I think we’re in a good spot right now, trying to make that play-in. If we’re able to make that … I think all the individual stuff will take care of itself.”
Orlando sits in 13th place in the Eastern Conference but is only four games behind Toronto for the 10th-place spot that qualifies for the postseason play-in round. The Magic have played .500 basketball (11-11) since the beginning of 2023.
Detroit, meanwhile, returns to competition with the Eastern Conference’s worst record after losing five of six heading into the break.
The Pistons closed out the first half with a 127-109 loss at Boston, the second of three straight road games that concludes in Orlando.
The visit to Boston marked the Detroit debut of James Wiseman, the second overall pick in the 2020 draft. Wiseman struggled to see the floor in 21 games this season with Golden State after having missed the entire 2021-22 campaign with a knee injury.
He landed with the Pistons after a delayed trade that included Atlanta and Portland. Wiseman’s debut was slowed when Gary Payton II failed a physical.
“He’s going to be a good fit for us: his length, his size, once he gets into game-condition again,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said following Wiseman’s 11-point, five-rebound effort off the bench against the Celtics.
“Like the way he protected (the rim). … Once he gets a feel for what we’re doing offensively — spacing, where to be, where to go — he’s going to contribute on both ends of the floor.”
Wiseman joins a roster with rookies Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, and third-year contributors Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart playing prominent roles. Second-year guard Cade Cunningham was averaging almost 20 points per game through 12 appearances but sustained a season-ending shin injury.
To add depth, Detroit is set to sign third-year guard R.J. Hampton, a former member of the Magic who Orlando bought out after the trade deadline.
–Field Level Media