The score may have been tied, but it was over after the first quarter. Detroit didn't score in the first 3:38 of the game, going 0-4 from the field and turning the ball over 3 times in that span. Rasheed Wallace picked up 2 early fouls and a technical. Dwight Howard had 3 thunderous slam dunks. Still, thanks to a 6-0 run in the last minute of the quarter, the score stood deadlocked at 23 after one.
After Orlando took a 23-17 lead with 1:19 left in the first, Detroit closed the game on a 76-54 tear, shutting down pretty much everyone on the Magic save for a great shooting night from Jameer Nelson, who finished with 27. Howard only made 2 more baskets after the first, and Grant Hill was held to 8 points on 2-12 shooting.
The officiating was extremely tight the entire game, resulting in four Piston technicals (as well as one on Dwight Howard). Two were for some extra-curricular activity, with Dale Davis and Rip Hamilton getting a little chippy after the play. However, two were for arguing some borderline calls in the first quarter. I hate to say it, but I understood the Rasheed tech. With the reputation he has built, any time he gets animated or says something after a whistle, there's a good chance he's going to pick up a T. McDyess' tech, on the other hand, seemed a little, well, uncalled for. He looked completely bewildered at the technical call, and was seen walking to the bench saying, 'I didn't say nothing' over and over.
The Pistons were able to close out the first three quarters extremely well. After finishing the first quarter on a 6-0 run (including a Chauncey three with time expiring), Detroit went into the half in spectacular fashion. After Tayshaun buried a 20-footer with 2.3 seconds left, he stole a poor inbounds pass from Hedo Turkoglu at midcourt. Tayshaun quickly turned around and passed to Chauncey, who buried a 25-foot 3-pointer while falling out of bounds as the buzzer sounded. In 2.3 seconds, the Pistons turned a one point lead into a more commanding six point lead, and deflated the Magic and their home crowd. To top off the end-of-quarter heroics, Tayshaun buried a three as time expired in the third, putting Detroit up 71-61 heading into the fourth. All in all, Detroit outscored Orlando 17-4 in the final minute of each quarter. Detroit has been criticized for their inability to finish strong, but this game certainly bucked that trend.
Overall, it was a very solid performance from Detroit (save for the first few minutes), who were able to overcome a subpar game from Hamilton (10 points, 2-11 shooting) and little bench production (9 points total) to basically dominate the game. Brooms will certainly be in order on Saturday.