Pistons Shut Down Spurs Again
Detroit 83, San Antonio 68
SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 12 (Ticker) -- Rasheed Wallace and the Detroit Pistons sent another strong message to the San Antonio Spurs.
Wallace shut down superstar Tim Duncan in an overwhelming first half and the Pistons pushed around the Spurs in an 83-68 victory that completed a sweep of the season series between the last two NBA champions.
"It was intense. The players love to compete," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "The Spurs love to compete against big teams just like us. It was a good game to watch."
Last year, Detroit surrendered the title to San Antonio, losing the NBA Finals in seven hard-fought games. However, the Pistons easily handled the Spurs, 85-70, in a Christmas meeting and did it again Thursday.
"They played better basketball than us tonight," said Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, who scored 16 points off the bench. "They shot the ball better, they rebounded better and they executed better.
"This game was a strong message for us, because we didn't do the right things tonight and they did. The Pistons demonstrated tonight that they are a better team than us right now."
One of the few players who has had success in defending Duncan, Wallace set an early tone. Without much help from his teammates, he harassed Duncan into 0-of-5 shooting in the first period.
Meanwhile, Wallace scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting as the Pistons sprinted to a 28-15 lead. They led by double digits for most of the final three quarters and held the Spurs to season lows in points, assists (9) and shooting (39 percent, 27-of-70) as they moved to a league-best 28-5.
"I personally wanted to get Sheed (Wallace) aggressive," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "Sheed was unbelievable for us; he got us going to a good start. He's one of the great ones. Like I said, once he gets going, there's no stopping him."
Richard Hamilton scored 22 points and Tayshaun Prince added 13 and 12 rebounds for the Pistons, who won a regular-season game in the Alamo City for the first time since April 2, 1997. Ben Wallace had 12 rebounds and Billups had 14 assists.
"I think the thing that we wanted to do is really concentrate on rebounding the ball and not let them get second opportunites on the offensive glass," Prince said. "Rasheed did a good job guarding Tim, because we know that Tim is going to get his looks on offense. All we ask from Rasheed was to be aggressive and battle with Tim every time."
Duncan collected 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Spurs, who still top the Western Conference at 27-9. They lost at the newly renamed AT&T Center for the first time since Nov. 25 vs. Chicago.
A layup by Tony Parker, who scored 17 points, gave the Spurs their last lead at 9-8 with 7:07 to go in the first quarter. Prince scored three straight baskets to start a 20-6 surge that ended the period.
Wallace had a pair of hoops before a 3-pointer by Billups and a three-point play by Hamilton capped the run.
Detroit held a 48-36 halftime advantage primarily due to a 29-14 margin on the glass. Doing most of the damage was Prince, who had eight.
After San Antonio started the second half with a 6-0 spurt to halve the deficit, Wallace made a jumper. The Spurs still were within 62-51 before going scoreless for the last 3:41 of the third quarter as Wallace made a 3-pointer and Billups drained two jumpers for a 69-51 lead.
Hamilton opened the final period with a jumper before the Pistons missed 11 straight shots. The Spurs could only inch within 10 points before a jumper by Hamilton ended the drought.