Magic vs. Pistons
Slightly improved play of late has the Detroit Pistons at least in shouting distance of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. One of the teams they have recently passed on a march up the standings is the Orlando Magic, whom the Pistons host Tuesday. With Sunday's 103-88 win over the Boston Celtics, who currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot, Detroit neared the halfway mark of the season five games behind the Celtics.
While the Pistons have won eight of 12 to shake off a horrific start to the season, the Magic have dropped 11 of their last 13, including a 111-105 loss to Dallas at home on Sunday. Glen Davis led Orlando with 24 points, Jameer Nelson added 20 and J.J. Redick contributed 18, but the Magic continued to struggle defensively in losing their seventh straight game to a sub-.500 team. Orlando has given up an average of 109.3 points over its last 11 games.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Florida (Orlando), Fox Sports Detroit
ABOUT THE MAGIC (14-26): In the loss to Dallas, Davis had his best game since returning from a sprained left shoulder earlier this month. He was 10-for-16 from the floor and dished out a season-high six assists. Arron Afflalo added 16 points in the loss, which he hopes will serve as a last straw for a struggling bunch. "I've been in winning environments before and guys will figure it out in time, get tired of losing," he said. "When it pisses you off enough, you'll start to make that adjustment mentally to your own game and apply (it to) the team to help win."
ABOUT THE PISTONS (15-25): Three days after a lackluster showing in London against the New York Knicks, Detroit showed plenty of early energy and had enough to pull away late against the Celtics. Rookie Andre Drummond scored 16 points to lead six players in double figures for the Pistons, who lost all of an 18-point halftime lead but made up for it with a solid second half. Taking care of business against the sliding Magic is critical when one glances at the upcoming slate for Detroit, which will play four of its next five on the road, including visits to Chicago, Miami and Indiana.
1. The Magic are 6-12 on the road and 6-17 overall against Eastern Conference opponents. They play each of their next eight games against the East, six of them on the road.
2. Orlando has won the first two meetings this season. These teams play a fourth and final time Sunday on the Magic's home floor.
3. Drummond entered the Boston game shooting 39.2 percent from the line. When the Celtics elected to put him on the line in an effort to come back in the second half, he responded, finishing with a 6-for-8 showing.
PREDICTION: Pistons 104, Magic 94.