Pistons 102, Magic 86
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—The Detroit Pistons wanted to get through the final 1 1/2 weeks of the season without any injuries.
“That’s what you fear at this time of the year,” Pistons coach Larry Brown said. “But there’s no answer—guys can get hurt just as easily in practice.
Billups was bringing the ball upcourt early in the third quarter when he stepped on the foot of close friend Tyronn Lue. Billups struggled with a similar injury for much of Detroit’s playoff run last season.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “It was just a fluke thing, but it isn’t nearly as bad as the one last year. That time, I was jumping. This time, I just stepped on him. If this was a Game 7, I would have been back out there.”
“We want to win these games and play well to finish up on a good note,” Prince said. “We know where we will be, but we want to get prepared for the playoffs.”
No starter played more than 29 minutes as Detroit clinched the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.
“I knew Orlando was banged up with Tracy (McGrady) gone, so I knew I could get some guys some minutes and some long stretches,” Brown said. “We’ve got 10 guys playing well, and if we can go 10 deep in the playoffs, we will. That’s a good situation.”
Lue led Orlando with 21 points, and Keith Bogans added 15 points and nine rebounds, but the Magic were a long way from the team that led Detroit 3-1 in the first round last year.
“Fortunes change,” said Magic coach Johnny Davis. “We had a lead on them and we didn’t close it out and we’ve trying to get back to that level ever since.”
Despite playing reserves, the Pistons shot 63.6 percent in the second quarter and scored 34 points while opening a 59-45 halftime lead.
“They keep coming at you in waves, and the second unit comes at you the same way the first unit does,” Davis said. “I think they are very capable of winning the East and contending for the championship.”
Detroit ended any doubt early in the third when Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace dunked on three consecutive possessions to move the lead to 65-49. Dunks by Prince and Hamilton helped the Pistons to an 84-65 edge at quarter’s end.
The fans started chanting for Darko Milicic early in the fourth quarter. The No. 2 pick in last summer’s draft played the final five minutes, scoring twopoints on a dunk.
Darvin Ham had a season-high 11 points, nine in the first half. … Hamilton missed Monday’s practice to attend the NCAA championship game. Hamilton was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four during Connecticut’s 1999 title run. … Grant Hill, who was traded from the Pistons to the Magic four years ago, still has not played at the Palace since the deal. … The Magic have lost more games in two losing streaks (30) than the Pistons have allseason (27). … The Pistons matched a season high with 33 assists.