for this game

Hamilton, Billups help Pistons grab 2-0 lead vs. Magic

Apr 24, 2007 - 4:22 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Coach Flip Saunders once again relied on his experienced starting unit to pull things out.

All five starters scored in double figures for the second straight game as the Pistons posted a 98-90 triumph over the Orlando Magic in Game Two of an Eastern Conference first-round playoff matchup.

Richard Hamilton scored 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter and fellow All-Star Chauncey Billups had 21 and eight assists for Detroit, which has a two-games-to-none edge in the series.

"We're up 2-0. We took care of business at home," Hamilton said. "Now it's important for us to go out there and continue to play well, try to get one game at a time out there in Orlando."

Game Three is in Orlando on Thursday.

"It's a pivotal swing. We can't let them get back into the series," Detroit forward Rasheed Wallace said. "We have to get that third win."

In Saturday's series opener, Saunders' starting lineup of Billups, Hamilton, Wallace, Chris Webber and Tayshaun Prince combined for 84 of the Pistons 100 points.

"I might be wrong, but I think they've got five All-Stars out there so it isn't just that they are balanced," Magic coach Brian Hill said. "They are balanced and they are good. You have to play solid team defense against them, because they are used to playing together and they are very unselfish. It's tough."

The Pistons led, 47-44, at intermission before supplying a comfortable cushion in the third period. Prince drained a 3-pointer and Billups made a driving layup, capping a 20-10 surge for a 67-54 edge at the 3:02 mark.

Detroit shot 45 percent (9-of-20) from the floor in the period.

Former Piston and 2003 second overall selection Darko Milicic's hook helped Orlando pull within 78-70 with 7:18 remaining in the decisive quarter.

Hedo Turkoglu's pull-up jumper cut Orlando's deficit to seven points, but on the ensuing possession Wallace nailed a wild one-handed 3-pointer off the glass as the shot clock expired to rebuild a double-digit lead at 88-78 with 3:24 left.

"I was just trying to hit the rim," said Wallace, who shot 7-of-15.

"That was a big shot for us but I know it took a lot of air out of their sails," Billups said. "Sheed, he hits crazy shots like that. I can't say he meant to do that but I'll take it."

Wallace continued to give Orlando's frontcourt problems, contributing 17 points, 11 boards and three blocks.

"Sheed was huge again. Sheed is really focused right now," Billups added. "He's our X-factor at all times. When we can get that kind of effort and focus from him, I feel good about us every single night."

But just like in Game One, the Magic did not surrender as Milicic and Jameer Nelson scored on back-to-back trips to close within 88-82 with 1:29 remaining.

However, Billups responded when he converted a three-point play at the one-minute mark to extend the advantage to a nine-point cushion.

"They might cut it to three or six or seven, then we make a couple more big plays," Billups said. "That's the key for us."

"We feel good," said Prince, who scored 18 points. "Obviously, as you continue to go on in this playoff series, you learn different things and understand what has to be done."

Orlando All-Star forward Dwight Howard finished with just eight points in 35 minutes. The 21-year-old complained of feeling sick earlier.

"Dwight was sick, and he just didn't have anything," Hill said. "He was nauseous and had intense stomach pains before the game. That's all I can tell you."

"We tried to swarm (Howard) a little more," Saunders said. "But he must have been sick because he sat in situations in the third and fourth quarters when he normally would have been out there."

Turkoglu poured in 22 points and Grant Hill - another former Piston - added 21 and eight assists for the Magic, who shot 46 percent (35-of-76) and have lost five straight playoff games against Detroit.

"We just have to play together and fight," Turkoglu said. "We are playing a good team and we just have to execute better and close the deal. We have been playing good, but in the end we have made a few mistakes and they have made some shots and that is what happens."

In the first quarter, Nelson was called for a flagrant foul when he grabbed Hamilton on a fast-break layup attempt.

"I'm sick and tired of getting hit hard out there, I'll tell you that," Hamilton said. "But it's a part of the game. I know that's what people are trying to do. Like the 'Energizer Bunny' I'm going to take a licking and keep on ticking.

"It's going to be a dogfight. It's the playoffs."

    ORLANDO 90

    Apr 23 9:45 PM

    ORLANDO 59

    Apr 23 9:02 PM

    ORLANDO 44

    Apr 23 8:13 PM

    ORLANDO 22

    Apr 23 7:34 PM