Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 12/29

Game 1: Monday, December 29th
Game 2: Friday, February 27th
Game 3: Monday, March 9th

Magic 94

(46-17, 22-10 away)

Pistons 98

(32-30, 17-15 home)

    Coverage: SUNHD

    7:30 PM ET, March 9, 2009

    The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

    1 2 3 4 T
    ORL 21 24 26 2394
    DET 21 21 31 2598

    Top Performers

    Orl: D. Howard 27 Pts, 14 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 Blk

    Det: R. Hamilton 29 Pts, 3 Reb, 14 Ast, 1 Stl

    Magic-Pistons Preview

    The Orlando Magic feel they are legitimate members of the Eastern Conference's elite.

    A victory over one of their biggest nemeses would add further merit to that claim.

    Orlando looks to snap a four-game losing streak against Detroit when the teams meet at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Monday.

    The Magic (46-16) have lost eight of the last 10 regular-season meetings with Detroit (31-30) and eight of the last nine postseason contests between the clubs. They got swept out of the first round in 2007, and lost an Eastern Conference semifinal series to the Pistons in five games last spring.

    While Orlando has been one of the top teams in the East for most of 2008-09, the Pistons have won both matchups in the season series.

    The Magic, though, are riding some momentum after winning their fourth straight Sunday, beating Boston 86-79. The win -- their seventh in the last nine games -- moved them two games behind the Celtics and three behind first-place Cleveland in the East.

    "It was big for (us) to see where we are for the playoffs," said Hedo Turkoglu, who scored 16 points. "It's not just a team that we want to catch. It's a team that we want to beat."

    Sunday's win marked the fewest points allowed by Orlando since an 86-76 win over Miami on Jan. 2. Though the Magic led 51-33 at the half, they nearly blew the lead in the fourth quarter before Rashard Lewis and Dwight Howard each hit two free throws to stave off the comeback.

    "It was very big," said Howard, who led Orlando with 18 points and 15 rebounds. "We just tried to weather the storm, and we got a good win."

    Howard is averaging 19.5 points and 15.5 rebounds in the losses to Detroit this season -- close to his season norms -- but the Magic, who average 102.1 points, have been held to 83.5 points in those contests.

    The Pistons' win over the Magic last month snapped an eight-game losing streak. Detroit will try to get well against Orlando again Monday after having its four-game winning streak snapped Saturday in an 87-83 loss to Atlanta.

    Richard Hamilton scored 20 points and Rodney Stuckey added 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but the Pistons managed only 17 points in each of the game's two middle quarters.

    The loss dropped Detroit three games behind Atlanta for the fourth seed in the East and home-court advantage in the first round.

    "It took us a little too long to get into our offensive sets tonight," Stuckey said. "We were throwing up shots at the last second. We played hard, but we didn't execute when we needed to."

    Hamilton is expected to make his sixth straight start Monday in place of the injured Allen Iverson (back). He's averaging 31.3 points in his last three games against the Magic.

    The Pistons are 21-16 with Hamilton starting, compared with a 4-12 mark when he comes off the bench.

    Including postseason play, Detroit has won 13 of its last 14 home games against Orlando.