With seven games remaining, Detroit holds a three-game lead over San Antonio in the race to finish with the league’s top record and gain home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Pistons need just three more victories to set a franchise single-season record, set in 1988-89 when the team went 63-19 and won the first of back-to-back championships.
Detroit already set a team record for road wins in one season, getting its 27th on Thursday with a 95-82 victory over the Miami Heat. The Pistons’ 27-11 road record is the NBA’s best.
“We take a lot of pride in being a good road team,” said Chauncey Billups, who had 14 points and nine assists. “From day one, we talked about being a great road team.”
Detroit led by as many as 13 in the third quarter before the Heat’s stars brought the team to within two points with 4 minutes remaining. The Pistons, however, finished the game on a 14-3 run.
Rasheed Wallace had 20 points in his return after serving a one-game suspension for picking up his 16th technical foul of the season.
Magic coach Brian Hill sees Friday’s game as a barometer of his team’s progress in the last month of the season. When the teams last met, Orlando was in the middle of its worst stretch of the season, losing 18 of 20 from Jan. 27-March 6.
Since then, the Magic have gone 10-4.
“We’ll see how we do against them,” Hill said. “That’s the nice thing about having games down the stretch—you might as well test yourself against the best. This will be the first time we’ve played Detroit since we’ve made the changes in our team. We’ll see how far we’ve come.”
The Pistons have won 10 of the last 12 meetings.