AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Brandon Jennings scooted around the court, led the fast break, made rainbow 3-pointers and played with a sense of joy mixed with growing confidence.
Following a long recovery from a ruptured Achilles tendon, Jennings is back and the Detroit Pistons' playoff prospects look a whole lot brighter.
Jennings delivered 17 points and six assists in 18 minutes during his fourth game of the season as the Pistons blew out the Orlando Magic 115-89 on Monday at The Palace.
"I didn't think it was going to come that fast, the fact that I was out 12 months," said Jennings, who missed the first 31 games.
Seeing Jennings played like his old self fired up his teammates, especially the player he's backing up, point guard Reggie Jackson.
"When a guy does all the little things, when he's battling back and you see him fighting each and every day, it's something special and you just enjoy seeing him have a moment like this," said Jackson, who had 14 points and seven assists. "It reminds the league that he's a very effective player, that he's special and what he did was special."
Plus-minus stats can often be deceiving but Jennings' plus-25 for the night captured the impact he had on the game. The Pistons have been looking for more punch off the bench and while there's been trade speculation involving Jennings, an unrestricted free agent after the season, they might be better off in the short term keeping him around.
"I've said all along, our plan right now is that Brandon can help us make a playoff push," Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. "That's what we're going to do, that's our plan right now. If something changes in the next five weeks, then we'll look at it. Right now, he's a very good player who can help us and that's the only way we're looking at it."
When Jennings re-entered the game late in the third quarter, the Pistons were up by nine. When he left the floor with 3:44 remaining, the lead was 30.
"Finally seeing (his shot) going in, that was the biggest thing," said Jennings, who scored 12 second-half points. "I got some extra shots up late last night and it paid off today."
Pistons shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a game-high 21 points while reaching the 2,000-point mark for his career. Center Andre Drummond collected 17 points and 12 rebounds despite sitting out the fourth quarter for Detroit (19-16), which had lost four of its last five games. Small forward Marcus Morris chipped in 13 points for the Pistons, who led by as much as 32 in the second half.
Combo guard Victor Oladipo had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists to lead the Magic (19-16), who have lost three straight. Orlando center Nikola Vucevic tossed in 16 points, his backup Andrew Nicholson added 14 and reserve power forward Jason Smith scored a season-high 12 points.
Magic second-year point guard Elfrid Payton missed the first game of his pro career with a left ankle contusion.
"Three minutes into the game we had two or three guys grabbing their shorts, all bent over, just looking all out of gas to start the game," Orlando coach Scott Skiles said after his team was out-rebounded 54-30. "It's our fourth game in a row where we just had a low energy game."
The Magic return home to play Indiana on Wednesday after starting the New Year 0-3.
"It's really disappointing," small forward Tobias Harris said. "This was a really bad road trip for us as a team. We have to find a way to get back to playing the way we were playing -- better defensively, having more fun out there."
NOTES: Orlando coach Scott Skiles was named Eastern Conference Coach of the Month. The Magic had a 10-5 record in December. "It really should be 'Team of the Month,'" Skiles said. ... Magic G Victor Oladipo was headed to the starting lineup regardless of point guard Elfrid Payton's ankle injury. "The last (nine games) our defensive rating is 28th in the league, so it makes sense to put my best defensive player back out there," Skiles said. ... Detroit SF Marcus Morris was fined $15,000 by the league on Monday for shoving Indiana's Paul George at the end of the Pistons' 94-82 loss to the Pacers on Saturday. ... Pistons PF Ersan Ilyasova has taken a league-best 22 charges, 10 more than any other player. ... Detroit won the last three meetings. ... Orlando C Nikola Vucevic averaged 20 points during the previous nine games.