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An inside look at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pistons at Magic preview

The opponent — Orlando is 4-1 this season, with its lone loss being to Detroit on Tuesday. Dwight Howard (19.6 points, 11.8 rebounds) is the team’s unquestioned leader, whose only glaring weakness is free-throw shooting (65.3 percent).

The Magic love to hoist up a lot of 3-pointers and are averaging 28 attempts per game this season, while hitting a sizzling 43.6 percent of them.

Orlando will be without Rashard Lewis (suspension), who led the NBA in 3-point attempts and makes last season. Vince Carter (15.3 points) is questionable with a sore ankle.

The Magic likely missed Mickael Pietrus’ perimeter defense in the loss to Detroit Tuesday and he will play Friday after returning Wednesday from a bout with the flu.

Point guard Jameer Nelson is the team’s floor leader and is averaging 13.8 points and 6.4 assists this season. Ryan Anderson has played well in place of the suspended Lewis and is the team’s second leading scorer at 15.8 per game.

Key matchup — Detroit’s Ben Wallace/Kwame Brown vs. Orlando’s Dwight Howard. Detroit held Howard to a season-low eight points and five rebounds Tuesday. Howard played just 17 minutes before fouling out and will likely be ready for a second shot at the Pistons. Holding Howard to 8-5 again will be nearly impossible — Howard has scored over 20 points in his other four other games — but if Wallace and Brown can limit his easy baskets and keep him off the offensive boards it will go a long way in trying to secure a victory.

The skinny — Detroit has won the last four meetings between these two teams and 18 of the last 21, something Howard and company are likely well aware of. The Magic will be eager to get a ‘W’ on their home court.

The Magic have six players averaging in double figures and are averaging 108.4 points per game (4th in the NBA) this season. Meanwhile, Detroit is allowing its opponents to score an average of 90.2 points, which is the sixth lowest in the NBA. Toronto is the only team to score over 100 points against the Pistons this season.

The Pistons (2-3) will be without Richard Hamilton (ankle) and Tayshaun Prince (back) so they will likely rely on the trio of Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon and Will Bynum to carry the scoring load. Stuckey, Gordon and Bynum have averaged a combined 61 points per game in the Pistons two games this week.

Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva, who had 16 points against Toronto and 12 against the Magic, is the only other Piston to score in double figures. Villanueva (11 points, 5.4 rebounds) has had a slow start to the season, but looks to be picking it up this week.

Prediction: Magic 101, Pistons 93 (Pemberton's record 1-4)


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