Magic 90, Pistons 79
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)
''Always,'' Magic forward Rashard Lewis said.
Only now the end result is different.
On a night Dwight Howard was contained offensively, it took a strong push from two reserves to help the Magic pull away for a 90-79 victory over the Pistons on Tuesday night.
Mickael Pietrus scored 13 points, J.J. Redick had 10 points and the two came off the bench to lead a fourth-quarter rally for a victory over a Detroit franchise that has caused Orlando plenty of headaches. The Magic have won eight of their past nine games and are about to begin a tough stretch with seven of their next eight on the road.
''We'll find out a lot about ourselves going forward in these next couple weeks,'' Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
One thing he already learned: These aren't the same old Magic.
Tayshaun Prince had 16 points and Rodney Stuckey scored 14 points on an otherwise strong performance by the Pistons defensively. It just wasn't enough for Detroit to avoid its fourth loss in the past five games and get back to its usual winning ways against Orlando.
''We've had some success against them,'' Prince said. ''They always know that when we play them we're ready to play, but in the fourth quarter, they were really ready for us this time.''
The Pistons have been a pest for the Magic for years, eliminating Orlando from the playoffs in 2003, 2007 and 2008. Not that the Magic have ever had an easy time with them in the regular season.
While they're a bit older and no longer have Orlando's biggest thorn in Rasheed Wallace, the Pistons still have Prince, Richard Hamilton and Ben Wallace to cause the Magic fits.
And they did plenty of that again.
The Pistons were diving for loose balls and pushing Orlando around the paint, which is rare for a Magic team with Howard. He was held to nine points and 14 rebounds.
Detroit went ahead by five points in the fourth before the Magic found their rhythm. Redick made a pair of 3-pointers, Pietrus added another and a short jumper to punctuate a late push that put Orlando ahead 83-75.
''J.J. and I are like brothers, even though I stay under the sun a little more than he does,'' Pietrus joked. ''We had it under control.''
Wallace had nine rebounds, surpassing 10,000 for his career. And for a while, it looked as if there would be many more highlights for Detroit.
The Pistons scored 14 straight points early in the first quarter to take an 18-6 lead. The spurt was almost exclusively perimeter jumpers, and it was enough to bother Van Gundy.
He called a timeout and ripped into his players - loud even by his standards - that was easily audible in an otherwise quiet arena. Orlando players responded ever so slightly, scoring nine straight in the second quarter to move back in front by two.
It was back-and-forth finish from there until the Magic came through with their late run.
''This is a game we could have closed out,'' Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva said. ''We were right there the whole way. We just couldn't finish.''
Notes: Detroit's Tracy McGrady, playing again after two seasons hampered by knee problems, was asked if he could finally relate to what former teammate Grant Hill went through with recurring injuries when they were with Orlando. ''I still wouldn't understand because he went through like four years,'' McGrady said, shaking his head. ''I couldn't imagine.'' ... Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield was sitting courtside. ... Magic backup C Marcin Gortat was called for a technical foul in the fourth quarter for arguing with officials.