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Lewis, Magic pound shorthanded Pistons

May 8, 2008 - 5:30 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- An injury to Chauncey Billups finally allowed the Orlando Magic to upend the Detroit Pistons in the postseason.

Rashard Lewis scored a playoff career-high 33 points as the Magic pounded the shorthanded Pistons, 111-86, in Game Three of their Eastern Conference semifinals series on Wednesday.

Dwight Howard added 20 points and 12 rebounds for Orlando, which snapped a 10-game losing streak against Detroit in the playoffs. The Magic trail the Pistons, 2-1, in the best-of-seven matchup.

"It felt good to hit a couple threes," said Lewis, who connected on 11-of-15 shots, including 5-of-6 from the arc. "I hadn't been shooting the three-ball very well since the playoffs started. They were falling tonight."

Orlando, which was swept by Detroit in the first round last season, made sure that would not be its fate this time around after dropping the first two games of the series at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

"It felt real good to finally beat those guys," said Howard, who was a force defensively with six blocks. "If we play like we know how to play - run and try to cut down the turnovers - we know we can beat anybody. Tonight was a great win for us."

But it got some help with the loss of Billups, who left the game early in the first quarter, when he strained his right hamstring after getting tangled up with Magic guard Jameer Nelson. His status for Saturday's Game Four is uncertain.

"We're shooting for him to play on Saturday," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "He's sore right now. We won't know for the next 24 hours where he's really at. But all indications are that we're shooting for him to play Saturday."

While driving the right baseline in the first quarter, Billups bumped into Nelson and fell awkwardly to the floor, overextending his hamstring and leaving him face-down under the basket.

He immediately left the game and was taken to the locker room for treatment a few minutes later. It set the tone for a dismal first quarter for the Pistons, who trailed, 30-16, entering the second period.

"When your stars go down, I think it takes a little bit out of your team," said Nelson, who scored 10 points in the opening period and finished with 18 points in the game.

"He's (Billups) not only a great player, he's their leader," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Chauncey Billups is their guy and it definitely had a huge effect on the game."

The Magic took control right from the start and grabbed a 20-3 lead with just over four minutes left in the first on Howard's monstrous dunk.

"Losing Chauncey was big," said Pistons guard Richard Hamilton, who scored 24 points. "We were down early and we didn't do a good job early in the game."

Predictably, Detroit made its run after halftime behind Hamilton, who shot 10-of-20 from the field. Tayshaun Prince added 22 points and his jumper late in the third period pulled the Pistons within 71-68 with 36 seconds left in the third quarter.

But that was as close as Detroit would get.

Orlando scored the first seven points of the final period, capped by a wide-open 3-pointer by Keyon Dooling with 10:42 left. The shot from the arc signaled a shift in the game's momentum and forced a timeout by the Pistons.

When play resumed, Dooling kept the pressure on with a nifty layup as Orlando continued its spurt. The Magic eventually took a 90-73 lead with 8:17 remaining in the game on Hedo Turkoglu's shot from the arc - capping a 17-4 burst and effectively sealing the outcome.

"We did a good job of fighting back, but against a team that shoots threes very well, you can't dig yourself in that big of a hole," said Prince, who added seven rebounds. "One or two threes will push the lead back up. Next game, we really have to get off to a good start."

It was a much-needed victory for the Magic, who suffered a crushing loss in Game Two after a clock malfunction allowed the Pistons to hit a 3-pointer at the end of the third.

The basket ended up being crucial in the nip-and-tuck contest, leaving Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy in disbelief and forcing the NBA to take a look at its video monitor review rules.

Rookie Rodney Stuckey played well in Billups' absence, netting 19 points for the Pistons, who were pulverized, 38-17, in the fourth quarter without their floor leader.

Rasheed Wallace scored 11 points on just 4-of-15 shooting for Detroit, which shot 40 percent(31-of-77) from the field - including 2-of-10 from the arc.

Turkoglu scored 18 points and Dooling added 10 for the Magic, who shot a sizzling 54 percent (42-of-78) from the floor. The league's leading club from the arc, Orlando was 11-of-24 on 3-pointers in this one.

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