Pistons vs Magic Game Preview - Jan. 2, 2012
Howard, Anderson and the Magic look to win their fifth straight as they visit the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.
The All-Star center's future in Orlando may be in question, but he's been playing extremely well through the continuing trade talks. After grabbing 24 rebounds in each of the previous two games, he recorded his third straight double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds in a 102-96 come-from-behind win over Toronto on Sunday.
As well as Howard played, it was Anderson who sparked the rally, hitting two 3-pointers during a 16-0 run in the final period. The Magic (4-1) trailed by 16 at one point.
"We sort of could've just given up, but we kept pushing through it," Anderson said. "This was huge for us."
The fourth-year forward was the last addition to Orlando's starting lineup, winning the job over Glen Davis. He started 20 games the previous two seasons and averaged 10.6 points in 2010-11. Still, coach Stan Van Gundy predicted big things from Anderson, and so far he's right.
Anderson is averaging a team-high 20.4 points and shooting 46.7 percent from 3-point range (21 of 45). He connected on five 3-pointers for a second straight game Sunday, finishing with 24 points.
With Howard, who is averaging 17.4 points and 17.0 rebounds, and Anderson leading the way, the Magic have averaged 100.0 points since opening the season with a 97-89 loss at Oklahoma City on Dec. 25.
While Howard is working inside, Anderson has opened up things outside as the Magic have hit 24 3-pointers in the last two victories.
Monday will be the third set of back-to-backs this season for Orlando, which has won the previous two.
The Magic will try to keep things going against a rebuilding Detroit team that has had some struggles on defense.
After opening the season giving up 97.3 points in three consecutive losses, the Pistons (1-3) defeated Indiana 96-88 on Saturday.
Its previous two opponents shot better than 52.0 percent, but Detroit held the Pacers to 39.5 percent shooting.
The Pistons' best defensive night not surprisingly led to one of their better offensive performances. After averaging 84.3 points and shooting 41.3 percent in the first three games, they scored their most points while shooting a season-best 47.6 percent.
Jonas Jerebko recorded 20 points and 12 rebounds, helping Detroit finish with a 49-36 advantage on the boards. The Pistons were outrebounded in two of their first three games by an average of 13.5 boards.
Second-year center Greg Monroe had 19 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double.
"It's great playing with Greg," said Jerebko, who is averaging 13.8 points and 7.0 rebounds after missing all of last season with a torn Achilles' tendon. "He was a rookie last year and I was hurt, so we're still getting used to each other's games, but once we get that time together, it is going to be great."
The Magic won two of three against the Pistons last season and have won their last two visits to Detroit.