Final

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 3)

Series starts 12/25

Game 1: Wednesday, December 25th
Pistons99Final
Magic104
Game 2: Monday, January 13th
Pistons101Final
Magic86
Game 3: Thursday, February 13th
Magic88Final
Pistons98

Pistons 99

(18-9, 7-7 away)

Magic 104

(16-14, 9-4 home)

    2:00 PM ET, December 25, 2002

    Amway Arena, Orlando, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    DET 19 24 28 2899
    ORL 28 25 29 22104

    Top Performers

    Det: C. Billups 10 Pts, 6 Reb, 13 Ast, 1 Stl

    Orl: T. McGrady 46 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl

    McGrady leads way for Magic with 46 points

    ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Tracy McGrady's back was in pain but watching from the bench hurt the NBA's leading scorer even more.

    Shaking off a lower back bruise that sidelined him for the better part of a week, McGrady scored 46 points to lead the Orlando Magic to a 104-99 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

    "It's frustrating sitting out. I hate sitting out,'' said McGrady, who came one point short of his season high and four shy of his career best. "I wasn't 100 percent, but I felt good enough to go out there and play.''

    McGrady was elbowed in the lower back by the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant on Dec. 15. Since then, he had played just 17 minutes in a win at Utah a week ago.

    Even as late as Christmas Eve, his status against Detroit was questionable. But McGrady made 14 of 26 shots and 18 of 21 free throws, despite pain making him wince and once forcing him to lay face-down on the floor during a timeout.

    "Maybe this rest is a blessing in disguise,'' Orlando coach Doc Rivers said. "He got a chance to gather himself and maybe he can go and stay healthy through the All-Star break. That would be perfect.''

    Mike Miller scored 15 points for Orlando, which won for the third time in four games. Grant Hill shot 3-for-17, but had 10 points and 15 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season.

    "I kind of knew (McGrady) was going to play and play good,'' said Hill, who tied his rebounding season high. "When the bright lights are on, national television, he definitely brings his 'A' game.''

    Darrell Armstrong added eight points, seven assists, six rebounds and a season-best five steals.

    Detroit, which lost its second straight after a six-game winning streak, got 22 points from Richard Hamilton. Corliss Williamson came off the bench to score 17 but missed big three shots down the stretch, while Chauncey Billups had 10 points and a season-high 13 assists.

    Williamson's misses, which came after the Pistons isolated him in the low post against Pat Garrity, did more than keep Detroit from tying the game or coming close.

    "The good thing was, we made them use up a lot of clock,'' said Garrity, who scored 10 points.

    The Pistons were outrebounded 49-35, and Ben Wallace was held to nine -- more than six below his league-leading average.

    "They had 18 offensive rebounds, which led to a lot more possessions for them and, obviously, the number of free throws,'' Detroit coach Rick Carlisle said.

    Led by McGrady's career bests in foul shots made and attempted, Orlando shot 35 free throws to Detroit's 14. The Pistons were whistled for 27 fouls, 11 more than the Magic.

    Orlando led 74-57 late in the third quarter, but Detroit rallied. Making six straight 3-point attempts, the Pistons climbed within 86-84 on Chucky Atkins' trey with 8:14 to go.

    But McGrady scored six points, a jumper and four free throws, in a little more than a minute to put Orlando up 96-88 with 4:21 remaining, and Detroit never again made it a one-possession game.

    McGrady scored 12 points in the final quarter, shooting 10-for-12 from the foul line.

    Orlando wasted little time in establishing a lead it would never surrender, opening the game on an 18-4 run that McGrady capped off with a steal for a breakaway dunk. McGrady had six points in the outburst, while Miller added five.

    Detroit missed its first six shots and was outrebounded 9-3 in that span.

    McGrady had 20 points in the first half on 7-of-13 shooting with six free throws.

    The Pistons were without second-year forward Zeljko Rebraca, who was sidelined with an irregular heartbeat that struck Saturday in a loss at New Jersey.

    Game notes


    The teams had split their last 12 meetings, beginning with Orlando's 1999-2000 home opener. ... The Pistons are 5-16 on Christmas Day while the Magic are 2-2.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    DET
    ORL
    Points 99 104
    FGM-FGA 41-81 (.506) 36-84 (.429)
    3PM-3PA 8-22 (.364) 4-10 (.400)
    FTM-FTA 9-14 (.643) 28-35 (.800)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 5-35 18-49
    Assists 30 18
    Turnovers 13 11
    Steals 5 11
    Blocks 3 3
    Fast Break Points 5 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (0/0) 16 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Detroit
    Orlando
    Chauncey Billups Billups
    Points: 10
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 13
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Tracy McGrady McGrady
    Points: 46
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0