Magic and Detroit Meet Tonight for The First Time This Season
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The Detroit Pistons have been one of the elite teams in the Eastern Conference the past few years. The Orlando Magic could be poised to make that jump this season.
Orlando looks to win its seventh straight at home Friday when it faces Detroit for the first time this season.
The Magic (14-6) had a chance to complete their six-game road trip with five wins, but admitted fatigue may have played a role in a 94-80 loss Wednesday at Indiana.
``We had a great trip. This doesn't change that,'' Magic center Tony Battie said. ``But maybe fatigue played a role tonight. Maybe it caught up to us.''
Dwight Howard had 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, while Grant Hill scored 16 points for the East-leading Magic, who haven't played a home game since Nov. 25.
``We'll do what we've done all season. We'll bounce back,'' said guard Jameer Nelson, who shot 3-of-12 from the field. ``But we didn't have the energy, the focus that we've had in previous games. We dug a hole and never could seem to get out of it.''
Returning home should provide a boost for the Magic, who have won seven of eight at the TD Waterhouse Centre, which could be renamed Amway Arena pending a vote Monday by the Orlando City Council.
Orlando has won 19 of its last 21 home games, dating to last season, and the Magic play seven of their next eight at home.
One of the keys to the Magic's season has been the continued good health of Hill, who has been hampered by injuries throughout much of his 12-year career.
Hill, who has missed only two games this season, is second on the team in scoring (14.9), first in steals (1.3) and is shooting 53.3 percent (98-of-184) from the field.
Detroit (12-7) bounced back from consecutive losses to last-place teams with a 92-82 victory Thursday at Dallas, ending the Mavericks' 22-game home win streak against Eastern Conference teams.
``Everybody was locked into what we were doing,'' Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. ``What we can take from this is we played playoff basketball in a regular-season game. We played our tempo, played good defense, hit the offensive boards and kept the turnovers down.''
Tayshaun Prince had 20 points and Rasheed Wallace scored 15 of his 19 on 3-pointers as the Pistons assumed sole possession of first place in the Central Division.
``I was just getting open looks,'' Wallace said. ``It was good ball movement, swinging the ball to the open man. That's all it was.''
Wallace's performance had to be particularly satisfying after he was limited to seven points on 3-of-10 from the field Tuesday in an 88-85 loss to Portland.
Wallace has struggled in his last three matchups with Orlando, averaging 13.3 points on 16-of-43 shooting from the field, including 6-of-25 from beyond the arc.
The Magic ended a four-game losing streak to the Pistons with an 89-87 home victory on April 7. Detroit has won 10 of the last 13 meetings.
By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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