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2023 position breakdown: Tight ends

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2023 position breakdown: Tight ends


LaPorta joined wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (2014) as the only rookies in NFL history to produce a season with at least 85 receptions, 850 receiving yards and 10 touchdown receptions.

Among all NFL tight ends this season, LaPorta finished first in touchdown catches, fourth in receptions and fifth in receiving yards.

Free agents: Brock Wright (restricted), Shane Zylstra (exclusive rights), Anthony Firkser (unrestricted).

The Lions control Zylstra’s rights and it seems logical he’d be back to compete for a reserve tight end role in 2024.

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Wright is a terrific blocker in the run game and is more explosive of a receiver than he gets credit for. He’s had a couple big catches over the last two seasons. His 29-yard reception against Tampa Bay in the Divisional Round of the playoffs set up a key third-quarter touchdown for the Lions.

Not a huge need here, especially if they bring Wright back, but Detroit could opt to bring in a veteran to compete for depth behind LaPorta.



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Detroit, MI

Beede’s Breakdown: How Magic found way to win at Detroit behind Banchero’s late-game heroics

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Beede’s Breakdown: How Magic found way to win at Detroit behind Banchero’s late-game heroics


If there’s one thing that’s clear about Paolo Banchero, it’s that he’ll find a way to win no matter the circumstances.

He reminded the Magic fanbase of just that Saturday night at Detroit when he drilled an 18-foot step back jump shot from the left side in the closing seconds and converted a free throw to lift Orlando (32-25) to victory 112-109 on the road.

Battling an illness as of late, Banchero clearly wasn’t himself throughout the night but that didn’t slow him down when it mattered the most.

While it was Banchero who hit the game winner, it took a group effort for the Magic to clinch the regular-season series over the Pistons (8-48) in the 3-point win that moved Orlando into sixth place in the East, above the mark for the Play-In Tournament.

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Playing on the first night of back-to-back, Orlando had eight players score in double figures at Detroit, which tied the franchise record.

The Magic have a quick turnaround when they wrap up their 3-game road trip at Atlanta (24-32) on Sunday (Bally Sports Florida, 7).

Starting 5

For the second straight game, Mosley opened with Jalen Suggs, Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter Jr. against the Pistons.

That’s because the Magic were without Markelle Fultz (left knee injury maintenance) for a third consecutive contest.

In a balanced offensive attack that included scoring in the paint and from beyond the arc, all five starters finished in double-figures.

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It was the backcourt of Suggs (2 of 3) and Harris (4 of 5) that offered efficient shooting from 3-point range while Banchero, Wagner and Carter pushed their way to the basket and got to the free throw line. The trio accounted for 10 of Orlando’s 14 made shots at the charity stripe.

Carter (11 points and 10 rebounds) notched a double-double while helping spread the floor with a pair of triples.

Second Unit

In a change from the last two games, Mosley used three big men and turned towards Goga Bitadze four minutes into the opening quarter.

Bitadze played all eight of his minutes in the first frame and offered Orlando more size near the rim. Despite limited minutes, Bitadze made the most of the early opportunity by recording 3 blocks, 2 offensive rebounds and 2 assists with 2 points on 1 of 3 shooting.

After Bitadze didn’t return to the floor, Mosley relied on his usual second unit for the remainder of the game with rookie Anthony Black, Cole Anthony, Joe Ingles, Jonathan Isaac and Moe Wagner coming off the bench.

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Isaac made an impact on both ends with 12 points (2 of 2 from 3) to go with 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block.

Although Anthony was inefficient (5 of 11 from the floor), he provided Orlando’s second unit scoring when it was needed by creating something out of nothing at times to finish with 13 points.

He added a team-high 7 assists, a handful of which led to points from Moe Wagner. The Magic reserve center led the bench with 14 points and 7 rebounds in only 17 minutes.

Rookie Watch

Black hit a corner 3 early in the second quarter and finished with 5 points in 22 minutes.

Finishing with Orlando’s best plus-minus (plus-8), the No. 6 overall pick offered Orlando reliable defense and used his length to his advantage to record a block, a steal and 2 rebounds.

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Email Jason Beede at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on X, known as Twitter, at @therealBeede.





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Pistons vs. Magic GameThread: Game Time, TV, Odds, and More

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Pistons vs. Magic GameThread: Game Time, TV, Odds, and More


Nothing helps your personal PR like winning. It’s certainly helped Paolo Banchero, who is leading a much-improved Orlando Magic team that is firmly in the playoff picture. Conversely, the lack of winning has very much hurt the Q rating of Cade Cunningham, Orlando’s opponent tonight. Unlike his fellow No. 1 pick in Banchero, Cunningham is either tagged with a label as a bust, a disappointment, or irrelevant because if he was really so good his team would be winning. Paolo, meanwhile, has performed admirably and not spectacularly as a No. 1 pick, but he is sitting pretty and firmly in the discussion as one of the best young players in the game. It’s understandable if not altogether fair. Cade deserves better than this, man.

Grousing aside, the good news for the Detroit Pistons. Quentin Grimes, who the Pistons obtained in the Alec Burks and Bojan Bogdanovic swap with the New York Knicks, is set to make his Detroit debut. Grimes has been out with a knee issue, and head coach Monty Williams says he will not play a full allotment of minutes. Still, I don’t think it will take long for Pistons fans to see how needed a perimeter defender like Grimes will be for this Pistons team.

Game Vitals

When: 8 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +8

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (8-47)

Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Simone Fontecchio, Ausar Thompson, Jalen Duren

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Orlando Magic (31-25)

Jalen Suggs, Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, Wendell Carter Jr.

Question of the Game

How many minutes into the game until the Detroit Pistons are playing their 10th player of the night?



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Projected Lineup: Feb. 24 at Detroit | St. Louis Blues

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Projected Lineup: Feb. 24 at Detroit | St. Louis Blues


The St. Louis Blues closed out their four-game homestand on Thursday with a strong performance, beating the New York Islanders 4-0. That winning lineup will take the ice again on Saturday in Detroit as the Blues continue their schedule with a matinee tilt vs. the Red Wings (11 a.m. CT, ABC, ESPN+ 101 ESPN).

“With the success we had vs. the Islanders, we’ll go back with the same lineup [vs. Detroit],” said Interim Head Coach Drew Bannister.

Forward Zack Bolduc, who was a first-round pick of the Blues in 2021 and made his NHL debut on Thursday, will remain in the lineup skating alongside Brayden Schenn and Jake Neighbours. Bolduc played 9:57 in his debut, finishing the game with an even plus/minus rating and one shot on goal.

“I thought he showed a lot of maturity. It’s a tough game to play in for a young player.” Bannister said. “I thought overall he played very well.”

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Goaltender Jordan Binnington will get the nod in net following his 38-save shutout against the Islanders. His next win will be No. 138, moving him past Curtis Joseph and into sole possession of third all-time in Blues franchise history.

The team did not skate ahead of Saturday’s game. The projected lineup is based on Friday’s practice at Centene Community Ice Center.



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