Pistons Still Unbeaten After Edging Blazers
Detroit 84, Portland 81
PORTLAND, Nov. 11 (Ticker) -- Chauncey Billups took advantage of a second chance at the free-throw line to keep the Detroit Pistons perfect.
Billups made two free throws with 9.3 seconds remaining as the Pistons remained unbeaten with an 84-81 triumph over the Portland Trail Blazers.
However, he coolly stepped to the line and hit two five seconds later to give Detroit a three-point lead.
Billups finished with 21 points and 10 assists.
Zach Randolph, who collected 21 points and 10 rebounds, had a chance to tie the game but his ill-advised 3-pointer was partially blocked by Ben Wallace - last season's Defensive Player of the Year - and clanged off the front of the rim.
"I got the ball, waited for (Wallace) to come and block it," Randolph said. "I hesitated. I should have just shot it. I don't know what I was thinking. I won't hesitate no more. I threw the game away."
"The play was there," Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. "We were going to run the play for Juan Dixon, but the second option was for Zach at the top of the key. He got a look at it briefly."
The Pistons (6-0) are off to their best start since 1988, when they won their first nine games. They are the league's only remaining unbeaten team.
"We aren't even talking about it right now," Billups said. "We know we're playing pretty good ball right now. I'm just happy we're taking the game so serious this early in the year."
Former Trail Blazer Rasheed Wallace gave Detroit the lead for good with a 3-pointer that made it 73-71 with 7:06 remaining. He added the last of his 13 points on a shot from the arc that gave the Pistons a seemingly comfortable 80-72 lead with 3:44 left.
"That's what he's been doing," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "The thing about Rasheed, he's got great poise in fourth-quarter situations. A lot of guys in this league are good players, but when it comes to fourth quarter situations, they're not as cool, calm and collective as he is."
"No matter how the game is going, he's gonna hit big shots, man," Billups said. "He's so gutsy and I know for him to hit those shots in this building makes it a little better. We wanted to get this win for him, too."
Dixon scored seven of his 19 points during a 9-2 burst, bringing the Blazers within 82-81 with 17 seconds to go.
"We didn't give up and we had a good effort for 48 minutes," Dixon said. "At the end, we didn't execute as well as we wanted to. Hopefully, we can build off this game."
Darius Miles scored all 23 of his points in the first three quarters for the Blazers, who lost for the first time in three home games.
Randolph set the stage early for the Blazers, connecting on his first five shots and scoring 12 points as Portland jumped out to a 28-25 lead after the first quarter.
In the second, Miles scored 10 points, including five during an 8-0 run that gave Portland a 36-27 lead with 6:29 to go. The advantage reached 10 before Billups hit a 3-pointer with 55 seconds to play, making the score 48-41 at the half.
The Pistons rallied and tied the game, 56-56, on Billups' 3-pointer at the 6:29 mark of the third that capped a 15-6 run.
"They jumped on us early," Billups said. "They know we played a tough game last night in Phoenix and they were excited. Their young guys said that you're gonna have to take it from us. Our veteran experience took over in the end."