Detroit 91, Orlando 72
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., May 3 (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons beat up Orlando physically and mentally.
They shoved Dwight Howard out of his comfort zone and pushed the Magic's buttons during heated exchanges, leading to Detroit's 91-72 win Saturday night in Game 1 of their second-round series.
"Mentally, we have to keep our heads," Howard said. "Detroit is going to talk and push. We knew that coming in, but we got too frustrated."
The game got heated at times, leading to technicals against Rasheed Wallace along with Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis.
"You can't rattle us," Wallace said. "We ain't no punks."
Howard had a relatively quiet night with 12 points, eight rebounds and three blocks after being the first player to score 20 points and grab 20 rebounds in three playoff games since Wilt Chamberlain did it in 1972.
Howard injured his left thumb trying to get a rebound late in the third quarter and played with blue tape protecting it.
"It's fine," Howard said after getting an X-ray on his shooting hand. "It's just a bruise. I'll be all right."
The Magic can only hope they'll be OK, coming off a disheartening performance a year after Detroit swept them in the first round en route to its fifth straight Eastern Conference finals appearances.
Just when it seemed that the third-seeded Magic had a chance to upset the second-seeded team in Game 1, as the Philadelphia 76ers did in the first round, the Pistons dominated them at both ends of the court.
Turkoglu grabbed an offensive rebound early in the second half, dribbled up the court and didn't break stride on an uncontested dunk as Wallace and Chauncey Billups watched.
Pistons coach Flip Saunders, who usually lets his veteran team fix its own mistakes on the fly, called a timeout and let his players have it.
What did he say?
"Probably what 22,000 people in the arena were saying," Saunders recalled. "What's going on? Where is everybody?"
The Pistons showed up and Orlando bowed out.
Detroit took control with a 19-3 run in the third quarter and after the Magic pulled within seven points, the Pistons put them away with a 17-4 burst to open the fourth quarter.
"I don't think I even looked up at the scoreboard for a while," Howard said. "It's disappointing."
Billups had 19 points and seven assists, despite resting in the fourth quarter, and Richard Hamilton scored 17 to outscore Orlando's starting backcourt by 25 points. Billups blew past the Magic whenever he wanted off the dribble and Hamilton got open easily around screens for mid-range jumpers.
Tayshaun Prince scored 12 points and Jason Maxiell had 10 of his 12 in the fourth quarter, showing surprising touch on jumpers and free throws.
"When you play the Pistons with all the people they have, if what you give up is a Jason Maxiell 17-footer you generally think you've taken away their better option," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said. "But he stepped up big time and did something different."
The Pistons will host Game 2 Monday night.
"We got outplayed badly," Van Gundy said. "We need to bounce back."
Turkoglu and Lewis both scored 18 for the Magic, who didn't get much offensively out of anybody other than those two and Howard. The next-leading scorers for them were Jameer Nelson and Keyon Dooling, both of whom scored seven points.
Orlando relied on 3-point shooting to eliminate the Toronto Raptors in five games, but made just two of 15 against the Pistons. It also struggled at the line, missing half of its 20 attempts.
"The first thing I look at is myself," Van Gundy said. "I can't make free throws, but other than that we have to find something better."
Notes: The Pistons have beaten Orlando eight straight times in the playoffs, dating to rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the opening round of the 2003 playoffs. ... Detroit acquired Orlando's first-round pick in the 2007 draft from the Magic in exchange for Darko Milicic and chose Rodney Stuckey. ... Detroit and Orlando split the four regular season meetings. ... Detroit is the only city with an NBA and NHL team still in the playoffs. ... Faces in the crowd included Tennessee Titans running back LenDale White, a cousin of Billups, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Damon Jones, a former Piston, and Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola.