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Detroit shows its mettle

The Detroit Pistons had too much late-game experience for the improving Orlando Magic.

Chauncey Billups scored a season-high 31 points to lead the Pistons to their second impressive road win in two nights, an 87-83 victory over Orlando last night.

Playing the Eastern Conference-leading Magic (14-7), the former champions solved some early ball control problems and took advantage of three Orlando turnovers in four late possessions. In a 33-second span, Richard Hamilton (14 points, 10 rebounds) turned two of those mistakes into 4 Detroit points that gave the Pistons the lead for good.

"We've been in a million games like this, where it comes down to the last four or five minutes," said Billups, who shot 11 of 16 despite a hamstring injury. "We just stay poised out there."

Flip Murray put Detroit up, 82-80, its first lead since 8:01 in the third quarter, with about 2:30 left.

"Right now, they are the best team in the Eastern Conference," Billups said. "We knew they were going to come out fresh. They made a quick run and we withstood that."

Dwight Howard, celebrating his 21st birthday, had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Orlando. "I just think that we didn't make shots that we should have made," Howard said.

"We had a couple turnovers that gave them the game."

Wizards 113, 76ers 98 -- With Allen Iverson barred from the building and on his way out of Philadelphia, the shorthanded 76ers couldn't overcome Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler in visiting Washington's victory.

Arenas finished with 32 points, and Butler had 20 points and 11 rebounds. DeShawn Stevenson had 17 points and Brendan Haywood 12 to lead the Wizards to their second straight win on the road after dropping their first eight.

Chris Webber flourished without Iverson, scoring a season-high 21 points with 10 rebounds.

Bucks 100, Grizzlies 94 -- Ruben Patterson scored a season-high 30 points and Michael Redd added 25 to lead host Milwaukee.

Patterson also had seven rebounds and five assists for Milwaukee (8-11), which won consecutive games for the first time this season. It's the longest Milwaukee had gone without back-to-back victories to start a season since 1993-94.

Nuggets 123, Heat 107 -- J.R. Smith scored a career-high 37 points and tied a franchise record by making seven 3-pointers in the first half, and Carmelo Anthony added 32 points in host Denver's victory over Miami.

Andre Miller had 20 assists, the most ever allowed by the Heat.

Rockets 92, Bobcats 62 -- Tracy McGrady scored 23 points, Yao Ming added 21, and Houston allowed the fewest points in franchise history in a victory over host Charlotte. The Rockets held the Bobcats to a franchise-worst 28 percent shooting.

Timberwolves 110, Jazz 103 -- Kevin Garnett had a season-high 31 points and 14 rebounds to lead host Minnesota over Utah, spoiling Jazz coach Jerry Sloan's bid for 1,000 wins.

Pacers 108, Trail Blazers 95 -- Jamaal Tinsley had 20 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists as host Indiana beat Portland.

Bulls 93, Raptors 90 -- Luol Deng scored 25 points and host Chicago hung on to beat Toronto for its seventh straight victory.

Spurs 111, Clippers 82 -- Tony Parker had a career-high 15 assists and Manu Ginobili scored 22 points as host San Antonio beat Los Angeles.

Lakers 106, Hawks 95 -- Luke Walton scored a career-high 25 points, Lamar Odom had a career-best 15 assists, and host Los Angeles muddled through without the injured Kobe Bryant (sprained right ankle) to beat Atlanta.

SuperSonics 94, Hornets 74 -- Reserve Earl Watson, struggling to find his shot all season, had 17 points, 7 assists, and 5 steals, sparking host Seattle over New Orleans.

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