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The victory of success. Pistons 103 Magic 96

What Happened

After building a large lead, the Pistons needed overtime to win after a fourth quarter coll... Oh, wait, sorry...

After being down double digits in the third, the back court got sizzling hot, and the Pistons escaped with a... Um, no, hold on... The Pistons defend their home court, defeating a reeling Magic team, who were minus Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson. No?

You mean to say the Pistons went on the road, beat a championship caliber opponent, and basically held their lead through the entire second half. Hmmm... That's a problem. See, I've forgotten what that feels like, so I don't know how to write about it.

So what really happened? A lot of things:

-Kuester decided it would be a good idea to give real minutes to productive players.

-The awesome McGrady showed up.

-The Magic were absolute twaddle from the three point stripe. J-Rich and Hedo (both 40%+ shooters from long distance) went 0-9 tonight.

-Austin Daye? Not so much. He is now more accurate from beyond the arc than he is from two point range on the season. That's weird for any player, much less a guy who's 6-11.

-After nearly blowing the Pistons' big comeback win over the Suns, Rodney Stuckey knocked down seven straight free throws in the final minutes to ensure the Magic didn't get any breathing room.

The takeaway

The Pistons team of the last ten games or so may not be playoff material, but it is markedly, and genuinely improved. The offense is flowing better, and key players are starting to get more confident.

Elsewhere in the NBA

Kevin Martin (34 points on 18 shots) is having a monster season, but won't even get a whiff at the all-star game. Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference roster will be peppered with Celtics retreads. Doesn't seem fair.

Here's what's interesting about Mike D'Antoni. Raymond Felton is obviously having a career year, but he is doing it while shooting substantially worse than last year. If he were shooting 39% from three point range, he'd be a no-brainer all-star and possibly in the MVP discussion.

Nobody seems to be talking about how tight the Eastern Conference is. At present, four games separate the number one seed from the number six. Considering that the Celtics are likely to cocoon a bit in preparation for the playoffs, and the Heat would be wise to do so, it could be a crazy race. What Western Conference?