Detroit Pistons at Orlando Magic, 7 p.m.
TV: FS Florida, ESPN Radio: AM 580 WDBO Spanish Radio: AM 1030 WONQ
The Pistons are below .500, have lost eight consecutive games, and without their leading scorer (Allen Iverson, injured back), but it doesn't matter - this is a scary game for the Magic. No matter the record or circumstances, the Magic are haunted by the Detroit. The Pistons always give Orlando problems because they hit the Magic in their mouths. They play physical, maybe even a little dirty at times, and they frustrate the Magic, who would rather play a finesse game and suffer little contact.
Rip Hamilton is back in the starting lineup. The Pistons are 4-12 since Hamilton left the starting lineup, so putting him back in is probably a good move. Minus Chauncey Billups and plus Rodney Stuckey, the starting lineup is the same squad that beat the Magic in the second-round of the playoffs last season: Stuckey, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Antonio McDyess, and Rasheed Wallace.
I'm glad Rasheed Wallace isn't suspended. Who wants to beat a half-manned Pistons squad? I don't care if it's late February and this game means nothing to the standings - this would be a huge win for the Magic.
Mickael Pietrus is expected to make his return tonight. He'll come off the bench. His long arms could frustrate Hamilton. Some more game notes, courtesy of the Magic:
Orlando is 30-43 all-time vs. Detroit (20-16 at home, 10-27 on the road) during regular season action, including 0-1 this season.
Orlando is 7-12 vs. Detroit in the playoffs (2-0 at home, 1-0 on the road, 1996 First Round; 2-1 at home, 1-3 on the road, 2003 First Round; 0-2 at home, 0-2 on the road, 2007 First Round; 1-1 at home, 0-3 on the road, 2008 Conference Semifinals).
Orlando has lost 17 of the last 22 regular season meetings with the Pistons overall.
The Magic have lost eight of the last 12 matchups at home and dropped eight of the last nine at Detroit.
Assistant GM Dave Twardzik served as an assistant coach for the Pistons in 2000-01.
Assistant Coach Brendan Malone served on the Pistons’ bench for seven seasons fro m 1988-95 and helped them capture back-to-back NBA Championships in 1989 and 1990.