Orlando has this one circled: For the Pistons, tonight is just another match, the second of a back-to-back before they head back to Detroit. For the Magic, though, they've been waiting for this for a while. John Denton of Florida Today reports that Stan Van Gundy put a big "8" on the dry-erase board in the locker room, a reminder that the Pistons beat the Magic all four times in the regular season and four more in the playoffs:
"The fact that they swept us for the year, this season we're coming in, and when we play Detroit, we're going to try to destroy them," Howard said boldly. "There's no way a team should beat us eight times in a year."
Brash talk, indeed, for an Orlando franchise that has lost 12 of its last 13 games to the Pistons. And in Howard's three-plus seasons in Orlando, the Magic are just 2-13 against Detroit. The Pistons won by an average of nine points per game in both the playoffs and regular season against the Magic.
Still no Rip: From Krista Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press:
The Pistons told us at least three times that Richard Hamilton would play tonight in Orlando after missing Thursday night's season-opener in Miami because of a "family emergency." Well, the dry-erase board in the media room makes it quite clear he's not. "Richard Hamilton will not play tonight," it reads.
The reason for his absence? The birth of his son: Richard Clay Hamilton II, who came in at eight pounds, 21 inches. Congrats!
Random Reggie Miller footage If you watched the game last night you saw this, but no, he's not over "The Block."
Rookie update:A. Sherrod Blakely talked to Rodney Stuckey before last night's game:
Before Thursday's game at Miami, Detroit rookie Rodney Stuckey strolled onto the court with his left hand firmly gripping a sports drink bottle. When asked about how the broken hand was feeling, he said, "good, real good."
"I hope to be back out there in a couple of weeks," he said. "We're not going to rush it, but it's definitely feeling a lot better."
I'm not sure what "back out there" means. If he means actually playing games and not just practicing, he'd have cut his expected recovery time in half: he had the surgery a week ago and was originally expected to miss six weeks. That seems optimistic, even with Detroit's training staff, but it's good to see he's ahead of schedule regardless.
Also, in that same article Blakely confirms that Sammy Mejia signed with the Ft. Mad Ants. That's where the Pistons probably would have put him for most of the year even if he made the team, but in any case it must be reassuring to Cheikh Samb to know that there will be a friendly face as well another Spanish speaker on the roster.
As usual leave any thoughts or observations in the comments -- the game is at 7pm on TV20.