Orlando (12-15) at Detroit (24-4)

Fog Currently: Auburn Hills, MI
Temp: 52° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Tue Jan 3, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The league-leading Detroit Pistons have responded well to the few losses they’ve suffered this season.

They’ll try to bounce back again and extend their home winning streak to nine games when they host the Orlando Magic.

Detroit had a season-high nine-game winning streak snapped with a 97-84 loss at Cleveland on Saturday. The Pistons shot a season-low 35.8 percent from the field and fell for the first time since Dec. 12 at Utah.

“We played horribly offensively,” Detroit forward Tayshaun Prince said. “We got the shots we wanted but couldn’t make anything. We were missing layups — everything.”

Detroit followed its three previous losses by beating the following opponent by an average of 15 points.

Point guard Chauncey Billups struggled in the loss to Cleveland, finishing with 14 points and four assists. Billups had averaged 24.3 points and 10.8 assists during Detroit’s winning streak.

The Pistons are looking to beat the Magic at home for the ninth time in 11 meetings. Detroit captured both games at the Palace of Auburn Hills last season, converting a combined 54 free throws in the process.

Orlando is trying to match a season high with its fourth straight win. The Magic have done it with offense, shooting at least 50 percent in each victory after doing so just twice in their first 24 games.

Grant Hill and Steve Francis have been major reasons for the increased output. Hill is averaging 21 points and Francis 19.7 during the streak as Orlando has topped 100 points in three straight games for the first time this season.

“I think Steve and Grant are playing terrific in that we play through them a lot to try and create some double-team situations or some mismatches and isolations,” said Orlando coach Brian Hill after a 107-87 win over Minnesota on Dec. 30.

The Magic have played an NBA-low 10 road games as they start a three-game trip that includes visits to Toronto and New Jersey. Orlando has yet to shoot 50 percent in a road game.

“I can’t really explain it, but I’m just happy about the fact that we finished out really well these last three games and there’s no reason why we can’t go on the road and play the same type of basketball,” coach Brian Hill said.

The game will pit two of the top three rebounders in the NBA in Detroit’s Ben Wallace (12.4) and Orlando’s Dwight Howard (12.3).

STANDINGS (through Jan. 2): Magic - 2nd place, 4 1/2 GB, Southeast Division. Pistons - 1st place, Central Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Magic - F Hill, F Howard, C Tony Battie, G DeShawn Stevenson, G Francis. Pistons - F Prince, F Rasheed Wallace, C Ben Wallace, G Billups, G Richard Hamilton.

TEAM LEADERS: Magic - Francis, 17.9 ppg and 5.7 apg; Howard, 12.3 rpg. Pistons - Hamilton, 21.7 ppg; Ben Wallace, 12.4 rpg; Billups, 8.4 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Pistons, 3-1.

LAST MEETING: April 13, 2005; Pistons, 103-94. At Auburn Hills, Mich., Hamilton, Prince and Carlos Arroyo all scored 14 points as Detroit placed six players in double figures and overcame Orlando guard Jameer Nelson’s career-high 30 points.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Magic - 4-6 on the road; Pistons - 12-1 at home.

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