Detroit Edges Portland for Fifth Straight Win
Detroit 93, Portland 89
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec. 20 (Ticker) -- The Detroit Pistons continue to shine on their home floor.
Richard Hamilton scored 23 points and fueled a late surge as the Pistons won their fifth straight game with a 93-89 victory over the injury-riddled Portland Trail Blazers.
"I'm happy that we won, but not overall pleased with how we played," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "When we don't play well, we hold the ball and we don't move it. I thought we held the ball a lot tonight. It's tough when you play five games in seven days and four in six."
Billups, who collected 19 points and 10 assists, expected a difficult game despite Portland's 7-17 record.
"With the tough game we had last night and traveling as well, and (Portland) was waiting on us, I knew it was going to be a grind," said Billups, who made 11-of-12 free throws. "They played hard and never gave up."
Portland led, 47-46, at intermission behind Zach Randolph, who scored 20 of his career-high 37 points before the break.
"Zach was unbelievable tonight," Portland forward Ruben Patterson said. "That's why he's paid all those millions. That's what the big-time players like Kobe (Bryant), Tracy (McGrady) and Kevin Garnett do. They play like that every night."
Detroit used a 9-2 run to build a six-point advantage in the third quarter with Wallace knocking down two 3-pointers.
Detroit trailed, 84-80, before using 10-2 run over a 2 1/2-minute span as Hamilton scored eight points. Randolph's layup with 1:20 remaining pulled the Trail Blazers within 90-89.
After Ben Wallace's free throw with 53 seconds left gave the Pistons a two-point lead, the Trail Blazers had a pair of chances to tie. But Randolph missed a short shot and Steve Blake threw away a pass that was stolen by Prince, who was fouled and sank both free throws with 10 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
Prince committed a turnover of his own moments before he stole Blake's pass.
"I wasn't really thinking about that," Prince said. "I just knew that we had to get a stop and make it a two-possession game."
Ben Wallace had 13 points and 14 boards and Rasheed Wallace added 11 and four blocked shots for Detroit, which improved to a league-best 8-1 at home.
Ben Wallace played 40 minutes after playing 56 in Monday's game.
"Ninety-six minutes in two games, that's phenomenal," Saunders said. "I think he was upset I took him out for eight minutes tonight."
Randolph also grabbed 11 rebounds and Juan Dixon and Ruben Patterson scored 14 points apiece points for the Blazers, who shot a dismal 1-of-11 from 3-point range and committed 16 turnovers.
Portland was outscored, 31-18, from the free-throw line, which angered Randolph. He was especially upset over two calls against rookie Jarrett Jack when Billups was shooting from 3-point range.
"We got a lot of bad calls tonight," Randolph said. "We had the game and the guy gets six free throws. That's ridiculous. The refs took the game away from us."
The win has Detroit off to a franchise-best 20-3, which surprises Saunders.
"You don't expect to start 20-3," Saunders said. "Not many teams have ever done that. I thought we'd be good, but I didn't think our record would be as gaudy as it is."