Magic 99, Pistons 94
-- Tracy McGrady set a team playoff record with 43 points to help the Orlando Magic hold off the top-seeded Detroit Pistons, 99-94, today in Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
"This guy is arguably the best player on the planet," Detroit Coach Rick Carlisle said. "We know that, and we know he is going to score some points and do some spectacular things. But if he goes for 40-plus in every game, it's going to be really hard for us."
Six Pistons tried to guard the NBA's leading scorer, who was 15 of 28 from the field and 10 of 12 from the line.
It was a particularly impressive effort considering that Detroit, the NBA's leading defensive team, allowed opponents just 87.7 points per game this season. No other team's average was under 90.
"I felt like I could get any shot," McGrady said.
Eighth-seeded Orlando led by 11 points with 5 minutes 22 seconds left, but a 14-4 run pulled the Pistons to 94-93 with a minute to go.
"If we play with the same urgency in the first quarter that we had in the fourth, we win this game easy," said Detroit's Ben Wallace, who played 42 minutes after missing two weeks with an injured left knee.
McGrady -- whose 32.1-point average this season was the highest of his five-year NBA career -- made two free throws with 46.5 seconds left. After Detroit missed two shots inside, Orlando's Gordan Giricek added two free throws, and McGrady scored the last point to surpass the Magic playoff scoring mark he shared with Penny Hardaway.
The last time the Magic advanced in the playoffs, they swept the Pistons in the first round in 1996.
Orlando rookie Drew Gooden had 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Detroit's Richard Hamilton -- a former Washington Wizard -- scored 28 points in his playoff debut. Chauncey Billups scored 21 and Clifford Robinson 19. Wallace had 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Chucky Atkins -- who like Wallace, another former Wizard, joined Detroit in the trade that sent Grant Hill to the Magic -- made back-to-back three-pointers at the end of the third quarter and to start the fourth to cut Detroit's deficit to 76-75.
That's when McGrady took over with a personal 10-0 burst.
The right-handed swingman made a three-point play on a left-handed shot, a three-pointer, two free throws and a left-handed finger roll to put the Magic ahead, 86-75.
"He made some tough shots. That's what superstars do," Wallace said. "They make plays in big games."