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The Only Magic is in Orlando: Magic 91, Pistons 86

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What Happened:

The all too familiar. The Pistons fell behind by as many as 15 early and battled back to make it respectable, even being so kind to tease us a little into thinking they might steal one.

The Pistons had a chance to take the lead with less than a shot clock left in the game, but a Rip leaner inside 10 feet with 18 seconds left rimmed out. Tayshaun grabbed the rebound and kicked it to a wide open Ben Gordon, but his three came up short and into the hands of Rashard Lewis, who was fouled and subsequently hit both free throws.

That gave the Pistons one final chance to send the game into OT with a three pointer, but an all of a sudden gun shy Gordon made a bad pass in traffic, which resulted in a turnover, another two free throws for Orlando, and another Pistons loss -- their fifth in a row.

The Good:

Jonas Jerebko. Plugged back into the starting lineup for the first time in almost two weeks, he didn't really miss a beat. He scored 16 points (five during the instrumental comeback in the 2nd quarter) and had nine rebounds. He was a team-best 2-3 from downtown. As always, his constant hustle is what stands out most (I was informed when I entered the game thread because I missed the first three quarters live, and then witnessed it when I watched the replay after the game).

The Bad:

There's no hiding Ben Gordon's sub par performance. He was signed to be the Pistons youthful sharp shooter and a guy who could carry the team on his back in the clutch, but he was 2-11 (0-4 from three pointers) and didn't make it very far when the Pistons planted the game on his shoulders late. He had not one, but two chances to be the guy Joe Dumars so highly coveted (and paid) during the off-season and failed. I'm willing to give him a pass because he just returned and has been battling the injury bug for the first time in his career, but bad is bad and Gordon was bad.

The John Long Unsung Heroes:

Rodney Stuckey and Tayshaun Prince. Both played key roles in the Pistons making this one competitive. Prince had 12 points and nine rebounds in the most minutes played for the Pistons. He was a team-best plus-3 and his three pointer with just under a minute left kept the Pistons in it, giving them a chance to win/tie it in the end. There's a good argument out there for him to fall under 'The Good.' Most importantly, I think majority would agree that this game could help his trade value.

For all the grief he got early in the year (and I'm definitely guilty of giving him some tough love), it's becoming increasingly clear that the Pistons are at their best when Rodney Stuckey is on the floor. He was even in the plus/minus, but he played the biggest role in the 2nd quarter comeback, scoring six points and assisting on three baskets. He finished with 18 points (10 on free throws) and seven assists.

Quote of the post-game:

"Part of me thinks if they put five 10-year-olds in Pistons jerseys out there, we’d struggle"

- Stan Van Gundy speaking of the Magic's futility against the Pistons (via OPP)

The Takeaway:

I said this back at the beginning of January:

We can probably clear up any cloudy playoff forecasts by the end of January, after the 'stons complete their last major home stand (six games).

Well, tonight's loss means a 1-5 record on the home stand -- 15-31 overall. That's now good for eight and a half games out of the 'coveted' number eight playoff spot. We're free falling down the ladder of a smelly Eastern Conference sewer and now only the rats Nets are below.

Yeah, the forecast is pretty clear now. Where's that Adopt-a-Prospect thread?