Billups, Pistons Power Past Hawks
Detroit 117, Atlanta 89
ATLANTA, Jan. 18 (Ticker) -- Guards Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton and the Detroit Pistons' bench decided early not to play around with the Atlanta Hawks.
Billups scored 23 points, Hamilton added 21 and reserves Maurice Evans and Antonio McDyess combined for 20 in the second quarter as the Pistons rolled to a 117-89 victory over the hapless Hawks, their fifth straight win.
A 3-pointer by Hamilton ignited a 22-7 surge. Evans and McDyess combined for 12 points during the run, with Evans' 3-pointer capping it for a 50-35 advantage with 3:02 left.
"(With) a young team, what happens is, it's like they're waiting for us to make a run," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "When a team makes a run, you have to really jump in there."
"We got off to a slow start, but for the most part, we were able to pick it up and take control of the game," Pistons center Ben Wallace said. "The bench did a great job of keeping the wheels turning and giving us a lot of energy."
Detroit's bench outscored listless Atlanta, 24-21, in the second quarter.
"Their bench hurt us in the first half," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Their bench outscored our starters. That was a devastating blow."
In the third quarter, it was the Pistons starters that put away the Hawks. Detroit went on a 16-6 spurt to start the third period that was capped by a dunk by Tayshaun Prince.
With an 82-56 lead late in the quarter, Detroit showed no signs of letting up as Ben Wallace made a great block on Josh Childress' shot.
"The good teams in this league are the teams that get up and bring it every night," Wallace said. "Tonight, I thought we did a great job doing that.'
"There's no question every team in the league wants to be like the Pistons," Woodson said. "They are playing at an all-time high and they're playing for a purpose. We didn't meet the challenge in the second, third and fourth quarters and that kind of disappointed me. I don't like to coach games like this where we don't give ourselves a chance to win."
In the final period, Billups drained three 3-pointers in a three-minute span to push the bulge to 93-65 with 9:10 to play.
"I know we tightened up the screws a little bit and got more serious about the game after the first quarter," Billups said. "I thought we didn't play as hard as we should have. So we started to step it up and play a little harder and play some defense. When we did that, we kind of imposed our will on the game."
Evans scored 14 points and McDyess added 12 for the Pistons, who had six players in double figures. Rasheed Wallace collected 14 points and reserve Carlos Delfino 11.
Ben Wallace pulled down 18 rebounds and rejected six shots. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year collected his 7,000th career rebound in the opening period and his 1,500th career block in the second quarter.
"It was one of those nights where I wanted to test everything," Ben Wallace said. "Some nights you get lucky. Tonight, was one of those nights. I was able to get good looks."
Al Harrington scored 21 points to lead Atlanta, which has lost 11 of its last 14 home meetings with Detroit and five of six overall.
The win, coupled with Cleveland's loss at Denver, made Saunders the coach of the Eastern Conference All-Stars in Houston on February 19. Saunders, who coached the West in 2004, became the sixth coach in history to coach both All-Star teams.