Depleted Magic struggle, lose 4th straight
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Early last season, the Orlando Magic came into the Palace with four key players sidelined because of a stomach virus.
They beat the Pistons anyway -- so when Orlando arrived short-handed again Tuesday night, Detroit's Tayshaun Prince reminded his teammates.
"I brought that up," Prince said. "When guys are out, you can't say, `OK, this is going to be an easy night for us, and we should be able to do whatever we want.' So I let that be known to those guys before the game."
Heeding Prince's warning, the Pistons pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 102-95 victory over Orlando. Greg Monroe had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Ben Gordon added 18 points for Detroit.
The Magic were without starters Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and Ryan Anderson because of injuries.
"All you can do is play against the guys that they put in front of you," Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "We did enough good things to come out with the win."
Prince and Jason Maxiell scored 15 points apiece, and Jonas Jerebko contributed 13 for the Pistons. Detroit shot 12 of 18 from the field in the fourth quarter.
Glen Davis, who started at center in Howard's place, led Orlando with a career-high 31 points. The Magic have lost four straight, equaling their longest skid of the season.
"We don't play any defense. Dwight would obviously help, but we don't guard," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We don't guard when Dwight is on the floor and we don't guard when Dwight is off the floor. If that doesn't change in the next three weeks, we aren't going anywhere."
Orlando managed only four offensive rebounds without Howard, who was out with back spasms. Nelson had a sore left calf and Anderson has been bothered by a sprained right ankle.
Detroit guard Rodney Stuckey missed the game with a sore left hamstring.
The Pistons led 50-47 at halftime and scored the first eight points of the third quarter, taking an 11-point lead on two free throws by Monroe. Orlando rallied quickly and even took the lead before the quarter was over. It was 74-all heading into the fourth.
Detroit opened the final quarter with seven straight points -- a 3-pointer by Jerebko and baskets by Monroe and Brandon Knight. The Pistons then pushed their advantage into double digits again, eventually leading 91-78 after a baseline shot by Jerebko.
It was 93-87 when Monroe made a tough catch inside and had his layup roll around the rim and in, causing Van Gundy to grab the back of his head in exasperation.
Prince's putback made it 97-89 -- with Howard's absence hurting Orlando until the very end.
Maxiell gave Detroit a lift with his energy, opening the game with a dunk and making a nice play in the third quarter when he saved a ball from going out of bounds at the offensive end and then took a pass for a layup.
Monroe, meanwhile, was an efficient 9 of 11 from the field. The 6-foot-11 center made an athletic play in the third when he came up with a steal at midcourt and went all the way for a breakaway dunk and a 68-61 lead.
"That's his signature move," Frank joked. "It's a surprise. We unleash it in the second half."
Frank then began mimicking a baseball coach giving signals to a batter.
"We're going to have to change the call," Frank said. "He's getting too good at it."
NOTES: Detroit's Ben Wallace surpassed 7,000 defensive rebounds. "I've played with some guys that missed a lot of shots," he said. ... Orlando's J.J. Redick was called for a technical foul in the second quarter. ... The Pistons outscored the Magic 56-30 in the paint.