Rashard Lewis was due for a breakout game. It couldn't have come at a better time for the Orlando Magic.
Lewis, Orlando's big offseason acquisition, scored a career playoff-high 33 points and the Magic beat the Detroit Pistons, 111-86, last night to gain a little momentum in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Detroit still leads the series, 2-1, though they suffered a tough injury. All-Star guard Chauncey Billups strained his right hamstring early in the first quarter and didn't return. The Pistons were hopeful he could play in Game 4 Saturday in Orlando, but planned to reevaluate him again today.
Lewis was shooting 36 percent from the field in the first two games of the series, including 2 of 12 from 3-point range. He shot 11 of 15 last night, 5 of 6 from behind the arc, and scored 12 of Orlando's last 14 first-half points as the Magic took a 54-42 halftime lead.
"I made my first couple and really felt like I was going to have it going tonight," said Lewis, who came to the Magic in a trade with Seattle.
Richard Hamilton scored 24 points for Detroit, Tayshaun Prince had 22, and Rasheed Wallace scored 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting. With Billups out, rookie Rodney Stuckey stepped up for the Pistons. He scored 19 points - 9 in the second quarter - but didn't bring the same floor presence as Billups, Detroit's steady leader and clutch 3-point threat. Billups was averaging 17.5 points in the postseason and had 28 against the Magic in Game 2.
"I'm concerned because [Billups is] our quarterback; he runs our team," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "You saw our first two games. He's been a huge part of why we've been successful - that matchup has been huge for us."
The Pistons lost Billups just four minutes into the game when he drove to the basket and got tangled up with guard Jameer Nelson. Nelson's leg caught Billups's foot, and the Pistons guard fell hard to the court.
Dwight Howard had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Orlando, and Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu both scored 18.
Lakers 120, Jazz 110 - Host Los Angeles celebrated Kobe Bryant's MVP award the best way possible.
Bryant had 34 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists and the Lakers beat Utah to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals and remain the NBA's only unbeaten team in the postseason.
The series shifts to Utah for Games 3 and 4 tomorrow night and Sunday. The Jazz had an NBA-best 37-4 home record this season, but one of the losses was by 11 points to the Lakers March 20.
Derek Fisher, who played for Utah last season, added 22 points, Pau Gasol scored 20, and Lamar Odom had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the Lakers, who shot 57.4 percent from the field and made 35 free throws - 22 more than the Jazz.
Seven Utah players scored in double figures, led by Deron Williams, who had 25 points, including three 3-pointers in the final minute, and 10 assists. Paul Millsap added a career playoff-high 17 points and 10 rebounds, Mehmet Okur scored 16 points, and Andrei Kirilenko added 14. Okur and Kirilenko both fouled out in the final minute.
Carlos Boozer was held to 10 points - all in the second half. He played less than seven minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
The Jazz outrebounded the Lakers, 58-41, in Game 1, but lost, 109-98. They won the battle of the boards again, 41-37, but shot 44.6 percent while attempting a season-high 101 shots - 33 more than Los Angeles.
The Jazz drew within 9 points early in the third quarter before Bryant outscored them, 9-4, by himself to make it 82-68. A 3-pointer by Williams with 1.5 seconds left in the third quarter trimmed the Lakers' lead to 93-83.