Detroit Rides Free Throw Accuracy to Victory in Game Two Versus OrlandoThe Detroit Pistons hardly looked like world beaters but they enjoy a 2-0 advantage over the Orlando Magic after a 98-90 victory on Monday night. Rip Hamilton (22 points and six assists) and Chauncey Billups (21 points, eight assists) led the way for the Pistons, who shot just 32-78 from the field (.410). Hedo Turkoglu scored 22 points for the Magic, while Grant Hill had 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists. The Magic held the Pistons to a virtual standstill on the boards (44-42 advantage for Detroit). The difference was that Detroit got to the free throw line more often (33-26) and made 26 free throws compared to 17 for Orlando. Also, while the Magic did an excellent job of cutting their turnovers down to nine, the Pistons only committed six.
The Pistons led 28-22 after shooting 11-19 from the field in the first quarter and they pushed that advantage to 37-26 with 6:48 remaining in the second quarter. Hill and Turkoglu checked back into the game at that time and played very well, helping the Magic close the gap to 47-44 by halftime. Turkoglu scored 15 first half points on 7-7 shooting, while Hill added 12 points.
TNT's studio crew blasted the Pistons during the halftime show, citing Detroit's lackadaisical approach to playing against a clearly inferior Orlando team. Magic Johnson said that his Lakers teams used to make a point of setting the tone early in the series against inferior teams in order to get a sweep and provide extra rest for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He said that the Pistons are not doing enough to "get their starters on the bench in the fourth quarter." This increases the chance that some of their key players could get hurt or could be more fatigued during later playoff rounds. Steve Kerr, doing color commentary during the game telecast, made a similar point, saying that last year Detroit allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers to extend a series to seven games, something that Kerr believes adversely affected the Pistons in the next round versus Miami.
Detroit played with a bit more purpose and focus in the second half, pushing the lead to as much as 15 but the Pistons did not succeed in getting much rest for their starters, three of whom played at least 37 minutes. Orlando's Dwight Howard has struggled in the first postseason action of career. He apparently suffered some kind of stomach flu prior to game two, which may have affected his energy/performance; Howard had just eight points on 3-9 shooting, though he did grab 11 rebounds. Still, the Magic have shown some fight despite facing a clearly superior foe and they may very well win a game or two in Orlando if they can get more production from their young center to supplement the contributions of Turkoglu and Hill.
posted by David Friedman @ 1:11 AM