Magic Put Pistons in Full Nelson
Orlando 89, Detroit 87
ORLANDO, Fla., April 7 (Ticker) -- Jameer Nelson may have not scored many points, but when it mattered most, he put the ball through the net.
Nelson hit the go-ahead jumper with 6.5 seconds left and Hedo Turkoglu scored 26 points as the Orlando Magic survived for an 89-87 victory over the Detroit Pistons, who had their six-game winning streak snapped.
Finishing with just eight points, Nelson tallied half of them down the stretch. With 90 seconds left on the clock, Dale Davis converted a follow shot to put Detroit ahead, 87-85.
Orlando came up empty on its ensuing possession, but Dwight Howard blocked a layup by Tony Delk which led to a jumper by Nelson with 42 seconds to go.
After Chauncey Billups missed a 3-pointer with 27 seconds left, Orlando called timeout. Nelson drilled a fallaway jumper over Tayshaun Prince with 6.5 seconds remaining for the final points.
"I'm a professional and knew I was going to be in a position to hit the big shot," Nelson said. "And when I saw Prince coming up on me, I have a lot of things in my game to create space."
"Jameer wasn't being aggressive earlier," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "He just had to get back to being aggressive with the ball again. Once he did, he was in good shape."
After Nelson's heroics, Delk, who had season-high 18 points, drew a foul from Tony Battie while driving to the basket.
An 87-percent free-throw shooter, Delk's first attempt was no good. He intentionally missed the second and Antonio McDyess corralled the rebound, but his desperation attempt fell short as time expired to seal the Magic's ninth consecutive home win.
"I don't know if I'm amazed by this team or not," Hill said. "But it's certainly a lot more fun. These guys deserve the credit because they enjoy playing with one another. If a guy makes a mistake, we pick each other (up) and move on because they're playing unselfishly and hard."
Turkoglu made 10-of-13 shots and grabbed seven rebounds. However, had to be carried off the court at the end of of the game after suffering a right knee injury. Initial X-rays were negative, but a precautionary MRI is scheduled Saturday.
"Winning these kind of big games is really gaining us a lot of confidence and building a team for next year that's going to be huge," said Turkoglu, who averages 25 points in his last three games.
Howard scored 12 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and former Pistons Carlos Arroyo and Darko Milicic had 10 and eight points off the bench respectively.
Neither Ben Wallace nor Rasheed Wallace played the final period for Detroit.
"Both of them said they couldn't go," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "So we let them sit. But the guys on the floor spilled their guts, whether it was Maxie (Jason Maxiell) or Dale as well as Tony and Mo (Maurice) Evans."
Billups scored 25 points and handed out eight assists. He netted all 12 of his free throws, including eight straight in the fourth period for the Pistons, who were without Richard Hamilton due to a death in the family.
"We put him on the line four straight possessions," Hill said. "But you get those calls when you're the Detroit Pistons and Chauncey Billups."
Detroit, which hit 11-of-16 free throws in the final period compared to 2-of-2 for Orlando, was outshot from the field decisively during the concluding quarter. The Magic hit 10-of-15 shots and Detroit was just 4-of-13.
"It was different (finishing without the Wallaces)," Billups said. "You have neither of those dudes or Rip (Hamilton). The guys in there (in the fourth period) are very capable, but aren't used to running those sets and getting the same out of it as the starters."
Despite the loss, the Pistons (61-15) remained three games ahead of San Antonio for the league's best record.