Auburn Hills — If the Pistons are going to make a playoff run, each of the remaining 11 games is critical, with defense being the main focus for coach Stan Van Gundy.
That continues Wednesday night against the Orlando Magic at The Palace, but the Pistons will be shorthanded, without their best defender.
Starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who ranks fourth in the league in minutes (36.8), will miss the game due to illness, the Pistons said.
In the last nine games, Caldwell-Pope has averaged 18.7 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists, but has been most valuable in his perimeter defense. Another key reserve, Reggie Bullock, also is listed as questionable.
Van Gundy indicated earlier Wednesday, following the morning shoot-around, that only guards Jodie Meeks (toe) and Spencer Dinwiddie (ankle) still were ailing.
Caldwell-Pope’s absence means the Pistons likely will start rookie Stanley Johnson at shooting guard and give Darrun Hilliard more playing time, as well.