Mo Bamba, R.J. Hampton come up big as Magic get past Pistons for road win

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Roy Parry, Orlando Sentinel
·6 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Mo Bamba finished his postgame media Zoom session, put on a pair of sunglasses and went into full cool mode.

Earlier, R.J. Hampton took a water-bottle dousing from Dwayne Bacon during a postgame television interview.

Yes, the Orlando Magic are enjoying their trips to the win column to the fullest.

The Magic got big games from Bamba and Hampton while putting seven players in double figures as they beat the Detroit Pistons 119-112 on Monday night at Little Caesars Arena.

Winning has escaped Orlando for much of this injury-filled season. Monday saw the Magic prevail in back-to-back games for the first time in nearly a month as they were able to build on Saturday’s spirited comeback victory over the Grizzlies.

The Magic are savoring their victories.

“I think the biggest thing for the last two games is we were in the win column. We want to win,” Bamba said.

While each win potentially worsens the team’s odds at getting a top-four draft pick, the young players continue to gain valuable experience and build camaraderie and chemistry on the court.

“I thought the guys took a step forward tonight,” acting Magic coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They’re just starting to feel that they belong, and then how they have to play as a team in order for us to get better and have a chance to go in the right way.”

Bamba and Hampton were big reasons why.

Bamba finished with career-highs in points (22), rebounds (15) and minutes (28:37). Other than going 0-for-4 from behind the arc, Bamba was an efficient 9-of-11 from the floor — all in the paint. He also produced six second-chance points.

Hampton, coming off a career-high 18 points on Saturday against the Grizzlies, recorded 16 points, a career-high 10 assists and seven rebounds in his 20th game with the Magic.

“I feel real comfortable [with the team],” Hampton said. “The guys motivate me to play to my strengths, so I think that’s just a part of growing and maturing, and getting the experience that I’ve gotten with the Magic and that’s to play meaningful minutes. So whenever I’m out there, I’m going to make the best of the opportunity.”

“R.J. is more confident with his play on the floor and Mo is starting to get more consistent with his play on the floor,” Corbin said.

While Bamba and Hampton stood out, they had plenty of help. It was arguably Orlando’s most balanced game of the season as all nine players who saw action scored at least eight points.

Chasson Randle gave the Magic (21-44) a boost with a season-high 18 points while newly signed forward Ignas Brazdeikis scored 14 in his Magic debut, Wendell Carter Jr. and Gary Harris each had 11 in limited minutes, and Moritz Wagner finished with 10.

In fact, Orlando closed the game with its four reserves and Wagner, who made his third start since joining the team last week. The five had never played together before Monday night but wound up giving the Magic big minutes in closing out the win.

Having that group on the floor seemed rather fitting considering all of the roster changes Orlando has gone through this season.

Hampton said it was easy to function well since basketball is the language they all speak.

“I think everybody knows how to play the game. You put in a couple of sets and you roll with that,” he said. “As long as guys are playing hard, playing defense, playing together and sharing the ball, you can play with five people you’ve never met before.”

Why were the Magic so short-handed?

First, they played without starting forwards Chuma Okeke (sprained ankle) and James Ennis (sore calf), shooting guard Terrence Ross (back spasms), point guard Michael Carter-Williams (ankle sprain) and forward Otto Porter Jr. (foot pain).

Second, with minutes piling up for some players (Cole Anthony) and others limited somewhat by injuries (Harris and Carter), Corbin sought to pull back on their playing time. Anthony played 21 minutes, Carter got 19 and Harris, who was dealing with a sore neck, started but played just 10 minutes.

Third, Corbin just liked how the group was playing.

“We wanted to give them a chance to be on the floor more. They were playing well enough together they could manage it, so it was good. The matchups were pretty good for us,” Corbin said. “We were able to get Vic [Wagner] and Iggy more minutes on the floor. They’re going to be with us the rest of the season. So it was a chance for them to get some game minutes and continue to bond together and see and understand what it’s going to take for us to have a chance to be successful.”

Saddiq Bey scored 24 points and Frank Jackson added 19 to lead the Pistons (19-46), who also had just nine available players. Detroit, which held a 64-58 scoring edge on points in the paint, lost its third straight and moved two games ahead of Orlando in the reverse NBA standings. The Pistons have the second-worst record in the NBA.

Detroit began to gain some separation late in the second quarter after a 7-0 run, capped by a Sekou Doumbouya layup that produced a 45-36 lead. But the Magic began to find success by getting in the paint. They scored eight points in the paint to spark a 15-3 run over the final 5:26 of the quarter.

The Pistons were held without a field goal in that stretch as the Magic took a 51-48 halftime lead, with Hampton scoring 12 points.

Orlando continued the momentum into the third quarter. The Magic pushed their lead to 71-62 after Anthony found Carter under the basket for an easy dunk to cap a 15-6 run.

Bamba scored nine points and Randle sank two 3s as the Magic pulled out to a 105-91 lead and looked in control with 6:20 to play.

But the Pistons sliced 11 points off their deficit in the next three minutes as Bey scored eight points to spark an 13-2 run.

Hampton found Brazdeikis with a kickout pass, and Brazdeikis responded by draining his first 3 with the Magic to create a 112-106 lead.

The teams traded baskets before Bamba converted a three-point play on a pass from Hampton with 5.1 seconds left to clinch the victory.

“I think we played with great physicality: 1 through 5,” Bamba said. “Detroit is a hard-nosed team. We knew coming in that it was going to be a war and it sure was.”

Orlando now has seven games left and returns to action Wednesday when it hosts Boston. Magic coach Steve Clifford will be back on the sideline after being cleared Monday from the league’s health and safety protocols. The game tips off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Bally Sports Florida.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSetinel.com. Email Roy Parry at rparry@orlandosentinel.com. Follow on Twitter @osroyparry