Pistons Win Ninth Straight Behind Billups
Detroit 106, Milwaukee 102 (OT)
AUBURN HILLS, Michigan, Jan. 25 (Ticker) -- After deferring to his teammates for a half, Chauncey Billups decided to get offensive.
Billups took over in the second half and overtime as the Detroit Pistons matched a season high with their ninth straight win, a 106-102 triumph over the pesky Milwaukee Bucks.
"That wasn't how I planned it," Billups said. "It's just how it worked out. We were in a good rhythm with Rip (Hamilton) and Rasheed (Wallace).
"In the second half I knew I had to be more aggressive. I knew they'd make adjustments which would leave me with some open opportunities."
Billups was the aggressor in the second half and overtime, when he scored all 23 of his points. The point guard singlehandedly rallied the Pistons from a four-point deficit with just over two minutes left by scoring his team's final nine points.
"Chauncey's the ultimate point guard," said Hamilton, who led Detroit with 35 points. "He can dominate a game without taking a shot. He gets everyone involved, and then when he has to, he can shoot the ball, too."
Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts was impressed with Detroit's guards.
"That's the strength of their team," he said. "You have an MVP candidate who doesn't even take a shot in the first half, picks his spots and gets other people involved. Then you've got a guy like Rip who gets open and makes his shots. That backcourt is tough."
Michael Redd, who matched a career high with 41 points, drilled a jumper with 2:19 remaining in overtime to give the Bucks a 98-94 lead.
But Rasheed Wallace sank a 3-pointer on the other end and - after Redd missed a jumper - Billups hit a step-back jumper with 57 seconds left to give the Pistons the lead for good.
Billups came off a screen set by Wallace and nailed a 3-pointer with 29 seconds to go, making it 102-98. The NBA's second-best free-throw shooter at a shade over 92 percent went 4-of-4 at the line in the final 15 seconds.
"We don't allow ourselves to get down or to rush our shots," Hamilton said. "We take it one possession at a time."
Redd praised Billups, who is seeking his first All-Star berth.
"He's a great player," Redd said. "He hit those two big shots in the overtime. I had a hand right there and he still made them. Rasheed made a big three in the overtime, too. They've got a lot of guys who can make the big shots."
Redd also expected the Bucks to play well against the league's best team.
"We tend to get up for the big teams and play well, and tonight was no different," Redd said. "We had the game in our pocket, but they made big shots and big plays at the end."
Redd, who scored 41 points against New Jersey on Nov. 2, had 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
"It was one of those nights where I felt good," said Redd, who made 16-of-27 shots while also grabbing nine rebounds and handing out eight assists. "But I would have preferred to have a win to go with it. It felt good to be in a rhythm, though."
Wallace added 20 points for the Pistons (35-5), who also won nine straight from December 14-29.
Hamilton scored five straight points, capped by a three-point play with 1:28 left in regulation that gave the Pistons a 92-85 lead. But Redd scored seven straight points to help send the game into overtime.
Rookie Andrew Bogut and Bobby Simmons scored 14 points apiece for Milwaukee, which trailed by as many as 12 points with under nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter before rallying.
"It was a great effort," Stotts said. "We kept battling and wanted to make it a fourth-quarter game. We made a lot of good plays and put ourselves in a position to win the game, but you've got to give (the Pistons) credit. They made a lot of big shots."
The Pistons' start matches the 1984 Detroit Tigers, who also went 35-5 en route to winning the World Series.
"The significance of the Tigers going 35-5 is that they ended up being world champions," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "If we can repeat what they did, then it would really mean something."
"I thought more than anybody that we would get off to a good start because I knew what Flip could bring to the team," said Billups, who played for Saunders in Minnesota. "I was more excited than anybody when he got hired."