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Orlando 89, Detroit 80
T-Mac Gets Help, Magic Take 2-1 Lead Over Pistons

McGrady and the Magic grabbed the home-court advantage on Friday night.
Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images

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ORLANDO, Fla., April 25 (Ticker) -- Tracy McGrady got some help. The Detroit Pistons look like they need help.

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McGrady scored 29 points but received lots of offensive support from his teammates as the Orlando Magic defeated the top-seeded Pistons 89-80 to take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Darrell Armstrong chipped in 20 points and Drew Gooden had 15 before fouling out with 1:11 left for the Magic, who got 46 from McGrady but just 31 from the rest of the team in Wednesday's loss in Game 2.

"The last game was unacceptable, with Tracy scoring 46 and the rest of us scoring what we did," Gooden said.

"Tracy told the guys, 'Play the game, be aggressive,'" added Armstrong, who contributed eight assists and six rebounds. "Tracy knows how to find the basketball. We've got to take shots and make sure we come off pick-and-rolls and look for our shot. That's what we did tonight."

In Orlando's victory in the series opener, McGrady scored 43 points and his teammates combined for 56.

"Tracy's the focal point; when he gets it going, everybody does," Pistons guard Richard Hamilton said. "We try to make it tough on him, but the other guys did it tonight. That was huge."

"For those guys to play like that, man, that can carry us a long way in the playoff series," McGrady said. "I told them yesterday to go out there and play the game, don't change it for me, and they did a great job of that. If they continue to play that way, I really don't have to do that much."

After Hamilton's jumper gave Detroit a 54-53 lead with 8:04 left in the third quarter, rookie Gordan Giricek countered with a 3-pointer to give the Magic the lead for good and spark a 14-2 run.

Giricek was 1-of-14 from the floor in the series before his shot from the arc.

"You've got to believe in him," Armstrong said of Giricek, who was acquired with Gooden in a midseason trade with Memphis. "He's been plying well, but sometimes you struggle, especially in your first playoff."

"I play with freedom, but (coach Doc Rivers) always gives me freedom to shoot," Giricek said.

McGrady's dunk with 3:12 to go in the period capped the run, during which Giricek contributed eight of his 10 points.

"We kept telling him that Rip Hamilton was kicking his butt, so he got frustrated because we were telling him that, plus he wasn't playing well," McGrady said. "But for him to hit that one big shot for us really got him going, and I hope he continues to play that way."

Hamilton scored 22 points on 7-of-22 shooting and reserve Corliss Williamson added 16 points for the Pistons, who have lost 11 straight playoff road games since a 93-80 win at Atlanta in Game 2 of their 1997 first-round series.

Ben Wallace grabbed 22 rebounds but scored just eight points on 2-of-9 shooting and launched several airballs. He was outplayed by Gooden.

Orlando shot 48 percent (33-of-69) while limiting Detroit to 39 percent (29-of-74).

Hamilton had 13 points in the first quarter to help the Pistons to a 29-19 lead. They were in front by as many as 11 points early in the second period before the Magic rallied to take a 48-46 halftime edge.

"I really didn't have to do as much tonight as far as the ball coming down to me every trip down the court," said McGrady, who had 14 points in the first half. "The first half, I was trying to get other guys involved and was just kind of cruising through. I knew also that I was going to play almost the whole game, so I wanted to really save my energy for the second half."

Orlando shot 57 percent (21-of-37) before the break.

"It was just too much," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said of the Magic's shooting. "You're not going to beat a team like Orlando if you can't hold them down to somewhere in the low- to mid-40s. We're going to have to get better defensively and execute better offensively because we struggled to score in the last three quarters."

"They hedged out really hard (in the second half), but we have to do the little things like we did in the first half, like moving the ball well and setting hard screens," Hamilton added.

Game 4 is Sunday at Orlando.

"I don't know where people get this one-man team stuff from," Armstrong said. "We've got guys setting picks for Tracy and guys who do so much to get him open. It's ridiculous when you hear that stuff, but he's definitely our guy, the man who got us here and believes in us."

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