Magic Stay Alive, Down Pistons

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Orlando won again, yet couldn't claim victory in its battle for a playoff berth.

Nick Anderson had 26 points and Derek Strong came off the bench to score 20 as the Magic kept their fading postseason hopes alive Wednesday night with a 95-87 win over the Detroit Pistons.

The Magic took over sole possession of ninth place in the battle for the eighth playoff position in the Eastern Conference but remained 1½ games behind New Jersey, which currently holds the No. 8 spot.

"Every win gives us hope, every loss takes it away," Orlando's Mark Price said. "We've got only five left now, four of them on the road. So we've got our work cut out for us right now."

The Nets beat Boston 117-107 Wednesday night and plays a more favorable schedule down the stretch than Orlando, which still has road games remaining against Chicago, Miami, Charlotte and Boston as well as a home game against New Jersey.

Detroit, which missed 17 of 23 shots in the fourth quarter, lost its seventh straight game and was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Grant Hill was held without a field goal for the last three quarters, finishing with 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting.

"I don't know what happened out there," Hill said. "That is pretty much how it has gone all season. We got off to a good start and did well, but in the fourth quarter we just collapsed."

The Magic played without starter Derek Harper, whose 15-month-old daughter nearly drowned Tuesday in the family swimming pool. Price took over his point guard spot and scored 18.

Strong scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and led Orlando with 10 rebounds. Lindsey Hunter led the Pistons with 20 points, Joe Dumars added 17 and Don Reid had 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Detroit led 49-47 at the half and appeared to be in control until Anderson hit two 3-pointers in the 10-2 spurt Orlando put together in the last two minutes of the third quarter to go up 73-72.

The Pistons trailed 85-84 with 4:37 left, then scored three points the rest of the way.

"Every loss we have is very disheartening," Detroit coach Alvin Gentry said. "We just did not do the things that were necessary to win the game. I don't think there is anybody in particular. I just think it's a total group effort."

Notes

  • One fan held up a sign throughout the game wishing Harper's daughter, Daria , a speedy recovery.
  • The Magic moved a half-game ahead of 10th-place Washington in the playoff race. The Wizards host the Pistons on Thursday night
  • Hill had 11 points and four assists in the first quarter, then only took one shot in the next two periods. He 0-fr-6 in the last three quarters.
  • The Pistons' losing streak is their longest since March 1995.

    © 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved
    • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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