Pistons meet Magic in battle for NBA Draft positioning

The seemingly meaningless matchup between the Orlando Magic and host Detroit Pistons on Monday could have major long-term implications.Detroit (19-45) has the worst record in the Eastern Conference, just behind Orlando (20-44). They’re two of at least six NBA teams that could finish in the bottom three, which would improve their chances of getting the top pick in the draft lottery.The Pistons have dropped five of their last six but play seven of their last eight games at home, where they have recorded 12 of their victories. The Magic have sunk in the standings since dealing several of their starters at the trade deadline and going into full rebuild mode.Detroit held out a good chunk of its rotation players due to rest or minor injuries in a 107-94 loss at Charlotte on Saturday. Leading scorer Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Cory Joseph, Wayne Ellington, Hamidou Diallo and Jahlil Okafor sat out.The four players they added in last year’s draft — Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey and Saben Lee — receiving plenty of playing time. Bey knocked down five 3-pointers while scoring 22 points. He’s made five or more 3s on 10 occasions this season.”He’s going to be a solid pro for a long, long time,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s a guy you can build your team around.”Hayes had 10 points and six assists but also committed four turnovers.”He didn’t play well at all in the first half,” Casey said. “We talked about it at halftime. He picked it up, and I thought he played a solid second half.”I thought he was cerebral in the fourth quarter, made some kickouts and made some plays. This experience is going to pay off. It’s not paying off now. It hurts. It’s painful, taking these losses, but it’s going to bear fruit at this time next year.”Stewart, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds against Dallas in the Pistons’ last home game, was limited to nine points and two rebounds due to foul trouble.”That kind of took our spirit,” Casey said. “He’s our spirit out there on the floor.”

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