Alec Burks scored a season-high 32 points, Saddiq Bey added 28 and the Detroit Pistons overcame the ejection of two players after a scuffle to beat the Orlando Magic 121-101, snapping a six-game losing streak in the process.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “We have had a lot of adversity, and with a young team it is great to see them play like this.”
Burks made his first 10 shots from the floor, including six three-pointers, before missing a three-point attempt with 28 seconds left that would have given him a career-high 35 points. He also made all six free-throw attempts.
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“I wasn’t going to stop shooting,” Burks said. “You don’t expect that to happen, but you have to take advantage when it does.”
By hitting his last shot, Burks would have also broken Gary Payton’s NBA record for most points in a game without missing a field goal or free throw. Payton scored 32 points for the Seattle SuperSonics on January 4, 1995, by going 13 for 13 from the floor and three for three from the line.
Killian Hayes and Hamadou Diallo were thrown out after the fight just before half-time. Moritz Wagner was tossed for Orlando and took a shot to the back of the head from Hayes and appeared to be briefly knocked out.
“He’s fine,” said Franz Wagner, Moritz’s younger brother. “I haven’t seen the video, but I know that’s the last thing he wanted to do.”
Jalen Duren finished with seven points and 18 rebounds for the Pistons, who got 76 points from their bench, which has led the NBA in scoring in December.
“It’s tough to play them, because they have the starting lineup with two bigs (Duren and Isaiah Stewart), and then a totally different style with the second unit,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said.
Franz Wagner had 19 points for Orlando, which lost on back-to-back nights after winning eight of nine.
“They just started making shots,” Mosley said. “They play much faster with that second group, and both Alec and Saddiq really got rolling.”
With 33 seconds left in the first half, Moritz Wagner hip-checked Hayes into the Pistons bench as they chased a loose ball. With Wagner facing the players on the Detroit bench, every Orlando player in uniform raced to the spot.
Wagner was ejected for a flagrant foul, while Hayes and Hamadou Diallo were ejected for their actions in the aftermath. Hayes got back up and struck Wagner in the back of the head, knocking him into the bench.
“I need an explanation about the decision because my understanding is you can’t leave the bench area and escalate a situation,” Casey said. “That’s when really bad things can happen.”
Detroit’s second unit outscored Orlando’s 42-14 in the first half, with Bey (16), Burks (14) and Diallo (11) all reaching double tricks.
The Pistons led 66-47 at half-time and Orlando was never able to get the lead back to single tricks.
Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, Wendell Carter junior, Gary Harris and Mo Bamba were among the Orlando players who left the bench area during the confrontation at the end of the first half.
They could face one-game suspensions, but said they didn’t feel they had a choice.
“We’re aware of the rule, but things like that usually happen on the court, not on one of the benches,” Franz Wagner said. “Your worry is that your teammate is down there amongst the whole other team.”
Wagner said, “Oh, for sure”, when asked if his concern was elevated by it being his brother being swarmed by the Pistons.
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