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Magic unable to close the deal against Pistons

From the Associated Press

The Detroit Pistons had too much late-game experience for the improving Orlando Magic.

Chauncey Billups scored a season-high 31 points to lead the Pistons to their second impressive road win in two nights, an 87-83 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.

Playing the Eastern Conference-leading Magic (14-7), the former champions solved some early ball control problems and took advantage of three turnovers in four late possessions.

During a 33-second span, Richard Hamilton turned two of those mistakes into four Detroit points that gave the Pistons the lead for good.

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“We’ve been in a million games like this, where it comes down to the last four or five minutes,” said Billups, who made 11 of 16 shots despite a hamstring injury. “We just stay poised out there.”

The Pistons (13-7) beat the Dallas Mavericks, 92-82, on Thursday night. Orlando has lost two in a row and three of its last four.

The Magic maintained a slim fourth-quarter lead most of the way despite missing nine of its first 11 shots. Flip Murray gave Detroit a 82-80 lead, its first since 8:01 in the third quarter, on a 12-foot, turnaround jumper with about 2:30 left.

“Right now, they are the best team in the Eastern Conference,” Billups said. “We knew they were going to come out fresh. They made a quick run and we withstood that.”

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Dwight Howard, celebrating his 21st birthday, had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando.

Phoenix 116, Boston 111 -- After back-to-back baskets by Paul Pierce and Delonte West tied the score at 101-101, the Suns scored on their last seven possessions at Boston to extend their winning streak to nine games. Phoenix has won 11 of 12 after starting the season 1-5.

Houston 92, Charlotte 62 -- The Rockets yielded the fewest points in franchise history. They gave up one fewer point than they did a week ago in a win over Cleveland and held the host Bobcats to a franchise-worst 28% shooting.

Charlotte shattered its previous low of 71 points set against Indiana in Dec. 2004, during its inaugural season.

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Washington 113, Philadelphia 98 -- The short-handed 76ers couldn’t overcome Gilbert Arenas, who scored 32 points to lead the Wizards to their second straight win on the road after dropping their first eight.

Chicago 93, Toronto 90 -- The Raptors’ Morris Peterson and T.J. Ford missed potential tying three-point shots in the final 13 seconds at Chicago, and the Bulls extended their winning streak over the Raptors to 14.

Indiana 108, Portland 95 -- The host Pacers outscored the Trail Blazers, 35-14, in the third quarter to take a 77-67 lead into the fourth. Portland lost for the seventh time in eight games.

Minnesota 110, Utah 103 -- Kevin Garnett had a season-high 31 points and 14 rebounds for the host Timberwolves, spoiling Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan’s bid for 1,000 wins.

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Milwaukee 100, Memphis 94 -- Ruben Patterson scored a season-high 30 points to lead the host Bucks, who won consecutive games for the first time this season.

Denver 123, Miami 107 -- J.R. Smith scored a career-high 37 points, and Carmelo Anthony had 32 points to lead the host Nuggets. Anthony (31.7) and Smith (16.6) are the top-scoring duo in the NBA with a combined average of 48.3 points.

Seattle 94, New Orleans 74 -- The visiting Hornets played without starters Bobby Jackson (cracked rib), Peja Stojakovic (back spasms) and David West (forearm), and lost for the sixth time in seven games.


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