Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 1/14

Game 1: Friday, January 14th
Game 2: Tuesday, January 18th
Game 3: Friday, April 8th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 13th

Pistons 114

(48-27, 19-18 away)

Magic 102

(35-41, 23-15 home)

    Coverage: WDWB

    7:00 PM ET, April 8, 2005

    Amway Arena, Orlando, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    DET 29 22 33 30114
    ORL 23 22 22 35102

    Top Performers

    Detroit: T. Prince 26 Pts, 9 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Orlando: D. Howard 21 Pts, 13 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Blk

    Prince, Billups lead the way

    ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons didn't get caught looking ahead to a possible preview of an Eastern Conference finals showdown.

    In a tuneup before Sunday's game at Miami, Tayshaun Prince scored 26 points, Chauncey Billups added 23 and the Pistons won their fifth straight game, beating the Orlando Magic 114-102 on Friday night.

    Detroit ensured itself of a better record than the eventual Atlantic Division winner, and can take the East's second seed by winning its third Central Division title in four years. Its magic number is three.

    In the Pistons' locker room, opinions differed on the coming matchup with the Heat -- who already have clinched the No. 1 seed in the East.

    "Just another game," said a dismissive Ben Wallace, who had 12 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. "Cannot win the championship on Sunday. Cannot. No way possible."

    "It's going to be a game everybody wants to watch," Richard Hamilton said. "It's going to be a dogfight."

    Rasheed Wallace (22 points) said he had different priorities: "I'm excited about South Beach!"

    Meanwhile, the Magic not only are against the brink of playoff elimination, but they learned before the game that Grant Hill won't be part of any possible comeback.

    Hill will miss the rest of the season because of a sore left shin. He had experienced pain off and on since being kicked almost six weeks ago. A CT scan showed no damage to the ankle that kept him on the bench for almost all of the previous four seasons.

    Orlando has lost four of five, and is 3½ games behind Cleveland in the race for the East's eighth and last postseason berth. The Cavaliers, who lost to Philadelphia 103-98, visit Orlando on Monday.

    "I know we're still in it," Dwight Howard said. "I know if we keep putting forth the effort that we're doing, we're going to find ourselves in the playoffs."

    DeShawn Stevenson scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Magic. He made four 3-pointers, after hitting just eight all season. Steve Francis had 23 points and nine assists, and Howard added 21 points and 13 rebounds.

    Detroit pulled away late in the third quarter. Billups' three 3-pointers highlighted a 25-8 surge to put the Pistons up by 17 entering the final period.

    The Pistons shot 55 percent, and went 7 for 10 on 3-pointers, and made eight straight shots in the fourth quarter to keep Orlando at bay.

    Also, Detroit's 31 assists were two shy of a season best. Hamilton had eight assists to go with his 13 points and a career-high 11 rebounds.

    "He's the 'Little O," said Detroit coach Larry Brown, comparing Hamilton to "The Big O" -- Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson.

    It appeared the Pistons would run away early, scoring 13 unanswered points for a 25-12 lead. But Orlando slowly battled back, tying the game at 40 with 4:30 remaining in the first half.

    Detroit held a 51-45 lead at the break.

    Game notes

    Because the Magic had the maximum three players on the injured list, the team received an injury exception from the league to allow guard Mark Jones to join Orlando's roster. He had one point and three rebounds. ... Kelvin Cato started as Orlando's center for the first time in four games. ... When Pistons reserve point guard Carlos Arroyo checked in late in the first quarter, he was met with a round of appreciative applause and whistles. Arroyo hails from Puerto Rico, and Orlando is home to one of the nation's largest Puerto Rican communities. ... Billups was cut on his right cheek in the first quarter, and the rest of the game wore a bandage over five stitches. ... The game was a sellout, Orlando's seventh of the season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 114 102
    FGM-FGA 42-77 (.545) 42-85 (.494)
    3PM-3PA 7-10 (.700) 6-14 (.429)
    FTM-FTA 23-30 (.767) 12-15 (.800)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-46 11-37
    Assists 31 23
    Turnovers 12 13
    Steals 8 5
    Blocks 6 5
    Fast Break Points 19 13
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 24 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 21 2

    Top Performers

    Tayshaun Prince Prince
    Points: 26
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1
    Dwight Howard Howard
    Points: 21
    Reb: 13
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2