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Pistons have lost 8 of last 9 games

2/22/2004

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Tracy McGrady wasn't thinking about
revenge Sunday night.

He was just enjoying a rare Orlando victory.

McGrady's steal with 10 seconds left set up Juwan Howard's
winning three-point play, and the Magic beat the Detroit Pistons
87-86 in their first visit to the Motor City since last season's
first-round playoff defeat.

"It just feels good to win a game," said McGrady, who scored
19 points on 3-of-19 shooting. "I don't care that it is the
Pistons or anyone else. I just like winning any game we can."

With the Pistons up two, McGrady knocked the ball away from
Chauncey Billups, and Howard was able to fight off Richard Hamilton
to hit the tying layup. Howard then hit the free throw to put the
Magic ahead.

"That was just a freak play," said Howard, who played despite
food poisoning. "Luckily, I got something off."

McGrady felt it was a clean steal, but Billups disagreed.

"We've got the ball up two, so you know they are coming to
foul," he said. "I turned my back and he grabbed my arm."

Rasheed Wallace missed at the buzzer for the Pistons, who have
lost eight of nine. He through he was fouled by McGrady on the shot
and argued with official Mike Callahan as the teams left the court.

"I'm not going to shoot an airball like that at the end,"
Wallace said. "But that's just one they missed. Hopefully, we'll
get the call the next time."

Wallace had 14 points in his first full game for Detroit, two
days after he was forced to miss the second half of a loss to
Minnesota because paperwork from the three-team trade that sent him
from Atlanta to Detroit had not been certified.

"I felt a little better, but I've still got to learn the
plays," he said.

Howard led the Magic, who have won three straight, with 20
points. Hamilton led all scorers with 23, Billups had 15 and Ben
Wallace added 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Rasheed Wallace woke up the crowd early, hitting a 3-pointer on
the game's first possession and adding a spectacular alley-oop dunk
later in the first half. He had eight points and six rebounds in
the half, and Hamilton added 11 points to help Detroit take a 48-41
lead at the intermission.

Neither team was able to take control in the third, and with 12
minutes to go, the Pistons held the same seven-point lead, 65-58.

The Magic started the fourth with a 9-2 run, tying it at 67, but
Rasheed Wallace hit a jumper, then set up Billups' 3-pointer that
put Detroit back in front.

That wasn't enough to put the Magic away, though, and McGrady's
3-pointer gave Orlando its first lead, 80-79 with 2:45 left.

"I knew this was going to be one of those nights where the shot
just isn't falling," said McGrady, who was 1-for-17 at one point.
"I just kept trying to find other ways to help the team, and hoped
I could hit a big shot at the end."

The teams traded the lead until Hamilton's short jumper put the
Pistons up 83-82.

After Howard missed, Rasheed Wallace's jumper bounced off the
rim, but Ben Wallace grabbed the offensive rebound. This time,
Howard fouled Rasheed Wallace, who hit one of two from the line to
put Detroit ahead by two with 1:01 to go.

Rod Strickland's layup tied it, but Sean Rooks fouled Billups at
the other end, and his free throws made it 86-84.

Strickland missed a jumper, and the rebound went out of bounds
off Orlando, but Detroit wasn't able to make a simple inbound pass
to put the game away.

Game notes
McGrady was booed loudly during pregame introductions. ...
Sean Rooks had six points in his Orlando debut. He was acquired
from New Orleans on Thursday for Shammond Williams. ... Rasheed
Wallace hit a high-arcing 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, but it
came just after time had expired.