Pistons Train Rolls On
Detroit 110, Chicago 82
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec. 16 (Ticker) -- The Chicago Bulls had been playing well on the road but quickly found out The Palace of Auburn Hills is a place where few visitors are treated like royalty.
Rasheed Wallace collected 19 points and 10 rebounds and Richard Hamilton added 18 points as the Detroit Pistons rolled to their eighth win in nine games, an impressive 110-82 triumph over the Bulls.
"It's been a lot of hard work, but we've been focused all year," said Hamilton, who made 6-of-10 shots. "You can work as hard as you want, but if you're not focused, it won't do you any good."
Wallace believes the team still is fueled by last season's loss to San Antonio in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
"We still feel that Game 7 in San Antonio," Wallace said. "And we have to make sure we keep feeling that."
The Pistons' latest victory came in typical fashion, as coach Flip Saunders' squad continued to showcase its standard combination of hard-nosed defense, dominant rebounding and balanced scoring.
"I told the guys when we started out to take it one game at a time," Saunders said. "I think as a team we've had a very good focus, understanding that every time we step on the floor, we're trying to play for Game 7 of the Finals -- to get that home court."
Detroit improved to 7-1 at home and has scored at least 100 points in each of those contests. It simply displayed too much talent and overall depth for Chicago, which had won seven of its previous eight road games.
"They showed why they're the best team in the league right now," said Chris Duhon, who led the Bulls with 13 points. "We couldn't do anything offensively. We couldn't do anything defensively. Our energy level was down. We should feel embarrassed."
The Pistons limited the Bulls to 43 percent (35-of-81) shooting, forced 15 turnovers and held a 46-39 rebounding advantage.
"From the moment the ball went up, they dominated us all over the floor at almost every spot," said Chicago coach Scott Skiles, whose team was outscored 18-3 on the fast break. "We had no answer for them. They got all over the glass, they got second-chance points and we couldn't get back in transition. When you let that team start feeling good about themselves, you're in for a long night."
Detroit also continued to display improved offensive rhythm under Saunders as six players scored in double figures and four collected at least five assists. The Pistons shot better than 50 percent (41-of-81), including 9-of-18 from the arc.
"Everybody was involved," Hamilton said. "We made plays for each other. We knew the first option probably wouldn't be open, so we had to look for the next one."
Wallace set the tone in the first half with nine points and nine rebounds as Detroit opened a 52-39 lead at intermission.
"(Wallace) was great tonight," Billups said. "Inside, outside, he made the right plays. He didn't have to force anything. When they covered down on him, he hit the right person."
Things did not improve for in the third quarter for the Bulls, who were outscored 33-19. Wallace scored 10 points in the quarter while Hamilton added eight and three assists.
Chauncey Billups scored 15 points and dished out eight assists, Maurice Evans added 13 points and Carlos Arroyo 11 for Detroit, which has won four games this season by at least 20 points.
Saunders and Billups were determined to take the pressure off Wallace, who had drawn the ire of Skiles in a 92-79 victory on Dec. 3. Skiles felt Wallace was laughing at his team during that contest.
"Rasheed has fun, but Rasheed's got respect for other teams and for players," Saunders said.
"Whenever there's any heat on somebody, we're going to have each other's back," Billups said. "We knew they had a bull's-eye on Rasheed and we were right there, ready for whatever."
Luol Deng scored 11 points and Mike Sweetney added nine for Chicago, which has dropped two meetings with Detroit by a combined 41 points.
"We wanted to come in here and play well, but we keep showing our inconsistency," Duhon said. "We can get away with not playing hard for a half against Toronto and turn it on in the second half and get a win, but when you're playing the best team, they're going to take advantage of it like (Detroit) did tonight."
Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon combined for six points on 3-of-14 shooting for the Bulls, who never led and trailed by as many as 32.
"When they started playing well, we mailed it in," Skiles said. "It's not about the loss. It's about how it went down, and it's distressing at this point."