Pistons Improve to 24-3, Beat Heat in Detroit
Detroit 106, Miami 101
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec. 29 (Ticker) -- Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace were too much down the stretch.
Billups scored 30 points and Wallace added 21 as the Detroit Pistons won their ninth straight game with a 106-101 victory over the Miami Heat.
"Chauncey's playing great. He's playing unbelievable offensively and defensively," Richard Hamilton said. "He's making plays, hitting shots. He's just playing the way he knows how to play."
The Pistons led 79-72 at the start of the fourth quarter and Wallace's 3-pointer helped extend that advantage to nine points with 10:49 remaining. The Heat battled back to get within two at 83-81 on Dwyane Wade's jumper with 9:16 to play.
The Heat stayed within 89-87 until Tayshaun Prince drained a jumper as the shot clock expired. On the ensuing possession, Ben Wallace blocked Shaquille O'Neal's turnaround shot, leading to a fast-break dunk by Prince with 6:15 left.
Miami rallied to tie the game at 99-99, but Billups sank a pull-up jumper to give Detroit some breathing room and Rasheed Wallace's deep 3-pointer with 1:06 left gave them a five-point lead.
"Whenever they came up with 6-0, 5-0 runs, we were able to respond either with Chauncey hitting a shot or Rasheed with a three," said Prince, who scored 13 points. "All five guys came through in the fourth quarter in the last six minutes and that is something that we have to do."
"They've been together long enough that when they see an opening like that, they take advantage of it," Miami guard Gary Payton said.
The Heat had a chance to get within one possession but Wade missed a jumper with 51 seconds remaining and Billups sank two free throws to seal the victory.
"We had the game all the way, we just made a lot of silly mistakes down the stretch," said O'Neal, who made 11-of-21 shots. "You can't do that against a team like Detroit."
Hamilton had 25 points and nine assists and Ben Wallace pulled down 14 boards for the Pistons, who connected on 7-of-18 3-pointers.
Detroit refused to attach any extra importance to the game, other than playing one of the better teams in the league.
"We don't look at it as, 'Oh, we beat the Heat,' or nothing like that because we know we've got to see them three more times and in the playoffs," said Rasheed Wallace, who nailed 4-of-6 from the arc.
Wade had 33 points and nine assists and O'Neal added 26 points for Miami, which lost despite holding a 46-36 advantage in points in the paint. Jason Williams scored 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting.
"Of course it matters that we lost," Heat center Alonzo Mourning said. "It matters a lot. We didn't play well enough to win. It's a simple game. You have to get stops and you have to score. They did that down the stretch, and we didn't."