The Orlando Magic are no doubt glad to be headed back home, but the familiar surroundings might not be enough to help them defeat the Eastern Conference’s best team.
The Magic hope to salvage a split of their home-and-home series with the Detroit Pistons when the teams meet on Friday.
Orlando dropped its sixth straight road game, 110-88 at Detroit on Wednesday. The Magic (27-28), who dropped below .500 for the first time since they were 1-2, have won four of their last five at home, where they are 18-10 on the season.
However, Orlando has lost 12 of its last 15 games against Detroit (34-19) overall and six of the last eight meetings between the teams in Florida.
“We were beaten in all facets of the game tonight,” Orlando coach Brian Hill said Wednesday. “Once we came out of the first quarter, we didn’t play very well.”
The Magic, who were coming off a 100-94 loss at New York, have gone just 5-14 since Jan. 12. Still, they are one-half game ahead of the Miami Heat for seventh place in the lackluster Eastern Conference.
“It feels bad when you get beat as bad we did tonight,” said Orlando’s Dwight Howard after losing to the Pistons. “They beat us in every way possible, and we can’t let that happen. Hopefully, when we play these guys again Friday, we’ll come out with a much better attitude.”
Howard, who leads the Magic with 17.9 points and 12.0 rebounds per game, had 26 points and 15 boards on Wednesday. Teammate Darko Milicic, picked second overall by the Pistons in the 2003 draft and traded to Orlando last season, had seven points and seven rebounds and was loudly booed in his return to Detroit.
“I don’t know if he was nervous, but that obviously wasn’t one of his best games,” Hill said.
“We let Milwaukee stay in the game last night, and it looked like we were going to do that again tonight - we were turning the ball over and taking bad shots,” said Chauncey Billups, who had 17 points and seven assists.
“I said in the huddle that we had to get them out of there, and we really picked it up. That’s what we need to do at this point of the season - get teams out of there.”
Webber gave his team a scare when he left the game with a scratched left cornea just 70 seconds into the game after being accidentally poked by Howard. However, he returned and had 16 points in the second half.
“Things were a little blurry at first, but once I hit a couple practice shots, I was OK,” Webber said.