MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 23 (Ticker) --
The referees let the Detroit Pistons
and Minnesota Timberwolves play for 47 minutes, 58 seconds.
Their change in philosophy in the final two seconds did not sit
well with Detroit's Chauncey Billups
and coach Larry Brown.
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Billups was whistled for a highly questionable offensive foul
with two seconds remaining as the Timberwolves held on for an
80-79 triumph over the Pistons, their 10th straight home win.
After Kevin Garnett
missed a jump shot with 18 seconds
remaining, Billups grabbed the rebound and dribbled into the
frontcourt. With the clock winding down, he burst past Sam Cassell
in the paint, pump-faked Cassell into the air and, after
being bumped, made a jumper over the outstretched arm of the
7-foot Garnett before falling on his backside.
But the referees said Billups pushed away Garnett with his left
arm before releasing the shot, and the go-ahead basket did not
count. Brown waved his hand in disgust at the officials and
Billups protested to no avail.
"You don't decide a game like this with a call like that,
especially when I get two guys in the air," Billups said.
"I tried to make him go left so I could challenge the shot,"
Cassell said. "When he got around me, Kevin came over with
support. It was obviously a push-off - without it, KG would
have blocked the shot. It was a gutsy call by the ref."
Brown was so upset with the call that he did not speak with the
media. Assistant Mike Woodson took his place.
"Clearly, Chauncey made a great play," Woodson said. "We did
everything we needed to win. We thought it was the shot, and
Garnett disagreed with the Pistons' assessment. "Great call,"
Garnett collected 22 points, 17 rebounds and six assists and
added 17 points for the Timberwolves, who have
won 20 of their last 24 contests.
scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half and
Billups added 18 points for the Pistons, who have lost seven in
a row at Minnesota and back-to-back contests since a franchise
record-tying 13-game winning streak.
Neither team shot the ball well, with Detroit connecting on just
38 percent (27-of-72) and Minnesota 37 percent (31-of-85).
The Timberwolves led, 78-75, before Richard Hamilton
layup and Okur dunked to give the Pistons a 79-78 edge with 1:56
remaining. Sprewell made a layup with 57 seconds to play to
give Minnesota the lead for good, and Billups missed a layup 11
seconds later to begin a difficult final minute.
Asked if the call at the end of the game was the worst he had
ever experienced, Billups said, "This was tops, absolutely."