AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (NBA.com exclusive) -- Kathy Griffin would have loved the Pistons' unlikely victory over Orlando on Tuesday night.
This game was filled with D-list performers. The Pistons had to make do without their two best players, while the Magic finished the game without their top three performers.
With Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton sidelined by injuries, the Pistons relied on backcourt scoring and a gritty defensive effort to hand Orlando its first loss of the season, 85-80.
The Pistons seemed doomed at the start with two of their longtime starters on the shelf.
The last time that neither Prince nor Hamilton appeared in a Pistons box score was April 17, 2002 -- or four head coaches, six conference finals appearances and 5,000 Rasheed Wallace beefs ago. They had a good reason for missing that 2001-02 season finale -- neither was on the team that season.
Prince's streak of 496 consecutive games and league-leading mark of 439 straight starts was snapped by a lower back strain suffered earlier in the day. The last time he sat out was April 13, 2003 against Memphis.
Hamilton hasn't played since the opener because of a right ankle sprain. Neither will play Wednesday in Toronto.
Pistons head coach John Kuester used a three-guard look extensively and the trio of Ben Gordon (23), Rodney Stuckey (20) and Will Bynum (20) combined for 63 points.
"It's major," Kuester said of the victory. "These guys needed this, going into a very difficult game like we play tomorrow in Toronto. It was good for their confidence. It was good for everybody's confidence."
Ben Wallace and Kwame Brown, along with the Pistons' driving guards, turned Superman into Super Dud for a night. Dwight Howard fouled out in just 17 minutes and had only one more shot attempt (two) than technicals (one). He finished with eight points, five rebounds and three turnovers.
"You just try to keep your composure and not get frustrated," Howard said. "We've still got a lot of games to play. Nobody's going to go 82-0 and be perfect every night. I don't think as a group we played our brand of basketball."
Vince Carter returned after missing one game with a sprained left ankle but only managed 15 points while being guarded mainly by rookie Jonas Jerebko, who became the first Swedish-born player to start an NBA game. Carter sat out the last 8:09 after reaggravating the injury.
Toss in the absence of Rashard Lewis, who is still serving his 10-game NBA-imposed suspension, and the Magic had little punch left down the stretch. They shot 31.6 percent in the fourth quarter and went scoreless in the final 3:41 until a meaningless J.J. Redick 3-pointer just before the final buzzer.
"It was just a very bad night all the way around," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.
The Magic's 3-point shooters were neutralized by Howard's inability to stay on the floor and collapse the defense. They were 10-of-35 (28.6 percent) from long distance.
"We knew if we could get Dwight into foul trouble, they would have trouble," Bynum said. "We'd have an easy way to get to the basket to make plays for others and to score (ourselves)."
Bynum showed plenty of moxie in the fourth quarter. Bynum, who had retinal surgery last year, temporarily lost his vision after Marcin Gortat swatted him on a drive and briefly went to the locker room.
Moments after returning to the game, he drove to the basket and drew Howard's sixth foul with 3:41 remaining.
"I couldn't see nothing," he said. "Just white. I was praying all the way (to the locker room)."
Bynum not only made both free throws to tie the game, he also hit a clutch jumper with 1:34 left to give his club a four-point advantage.
"I was kind of down on myself with the way I've been playing the last couple of games," said Bynum, who was 10-for-29 from the field entering the game. "Once I kind of smelled blood, I just wanted to keep attacking."
Detroit's euphoria might be short-lived. It will be difficult for the Pistons to sustain this type of effort on back-to-back nights without Prince and Hamilton. They also have a rematch Friday with the Magic, who will surely be seeking revenge after an ugly defeat.
"We've just got to go in and build off this win," Brown said. "This is over with now. We've got another good team and then we've got Orlando and I'm sure they'll be down there waiting for us, so we can't get too happy about this."