Hamilton, Billups Keep Pistons Unbeaten
Detroit 111, Phoenix 104
PHOENIX, Nov. 10 (Ticker) -- Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups again helped the Detroit Pistons put plenty of points on the board while keeping a zero in the loss column.
Hamilton scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter before Billups connected on a 3-pointer that sealed the Pistons' 111-104 triumph over the struggling Phoenix Suns.
"We just got to take it one game at a time," said Rasheed Wallace, who scored 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the final 6 1/2 minutes. "Were not thinking about going undefeated for a season or nothing like that. One game at a time, thats all you can do. We only play one game at time."
Things did not look good for the two-time defending Eastern Conference Champions, who trailed 100-94 with 4:56 remaining. Detroit responded by scoring 17 of the game's final 21 points, with Hamilton leading the charge.
"The defense turned up, no question, offensively we turned things up," Saunders said. "We just ran sets down the stretch, executed our sets and got shots we wanted. It was at both ends, so that is why this has been a championship team."
"Its frustrating when you build a lead and you can't hold onto it and make mistakes down the stretch," Suns center Kurt Thomas said. "We just got to correct those mistakes and stay together as a team."
Hamilton, who started the push with a 3-pointer with 4:32 left, came off screens to connect on back-to-back jumpers that gave the Pistons a 106-104 lead with 59 seconds remaining.
"Its one of those things where you just try to figure out how a guy is trying to guard you," Hamilton said. "What they were doing was really collapsing on me. (Rasheed Wallace) told me, 'Rip, you come off, your open from the beginning, just shoot it.' Sometimes it takes a minute to figure out how a guys guarding you."
"They made tough shots at the end," Suns forward Shawn Marion said. "We had hands in their faces and you have to give them credit. They hit some tough shots, but at the same time I think we had a couple of miscues, where we had a turnover here, a missed shot there."
Phoenix failed to get off a shot on its next possession and Billups - who had not scored since midway through the third quarter - drilled a shot from behind the arc that gave Detroit a 109-104 advantage with 16 seconds to go.
"I could see that (Hamilton) was feeling it and getting hot," Billups said. "(We) called his plays and then I hit the big shot at the end. It was a great game; it was fun."
Owners of a league-best 62-20 mark last season, the Suns (2-3) are winless in three home games this season. In each loss, they gave away a sizable fourth-quarter advantage.
"We're just not finishing games off," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We have to learn how to play together. It's a little from last year. We don't have Amare (Stoudemire) and we have to figure out different ways to finish and have certain guys finish."
Leandro Barbosa scored 21 points off the bench for the Suns, who had seven players score in double figures. However, they were outscored 37-22 in the final period.
"That's three of them here that we have let slip through our fingers at home and we got to find a way to pull these out at the end of the game," Marion said. "When we get leads we have to close games out, especially in the fourth quarter."