Billups, Defense Get Pistons Past Grizzlies
Detroit 95, Memphis 89
AUBURN HILLS, Michigan, Jan. 27 (Ticker) -- The Memphis Grizzlies are the NBA's top defensive team but could not stop Chauncey Billups when they needed to most.
Billups scored 16 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter as the Detroit Pistons earned their 10th straight win, a thrilling 95-89 victory over the Grizzlies.
However, Billups anchored a 10-0 spurt by himself, and Detroit's defense - ranked third in the NBA - stepped to the forefront down the stretch.
"This was a good win for us," Billups said. "This was a great win for us. We went double-overtime with them in Memphis and had to win on a last-second shot. Then for them to come here, we knew they'd be trying to get some revenge. They fought us hard. They didn't give us anything. We had to take it."
Once Billups sank two foul shots to give Detroit an 82-81 advantage and continue his surge with 2:27 left, Ben Wallace followed by blocking Mike Miller's layup, leading to Billups' pull-up 3-pointer for a four-point lead with 2:02 to play.
"That's typical Ben Wallace," Billups said. "He's the best in the business at that. We depend on him to make those stops like that and those big defensive plays. He's always there. You can always count on him to do that."
On the next possession, Pau Gasol had the ball knocked off his leg by Rasheed Wallace for a turnover. Billups beat Bobby Jackson up the floor, pump faked a 3-pointer and lured Jackson into a foul as he drained the shot.
"It was some big shots that Chauncey hit, especially that little and-one when Bobby fouled him right there," Rasheed Wallace said. "That was big. That got our momentum up and got our fans back into it."
A 92 percent foul shooter, Billups missed the free throw, failing to convert a rare four-point play. However, he gave the Pistons an 88-81 lead with 1:18 remaining, which was enough of a cushion to seal a season series sweep.
"I'm proud of the effort - we gave ourselves a chance to win," Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello said. "But that's an outstanding team. That's why they are 36-5."
Billups made 9-of-13 shots - including all five from the arc - and 11-of-13 free throws.
"It doesn't amaze me," said Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, who scored 16 points. "It doesn't amaze anybody on our team because we know what he's capable of doing.
Sometimes you're like, 'Why'd he shoot that?' because a lot of them are bad shots, but the confidence that he has, they go in. But trust me, the way he's been playing, we can live and die with Chauncey making the decision with the game on the line because we know the majority of the time, he's going to make it."
Richard Hamilton collected 19 points and seven assists and Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace each grabbed 13 rebounds for Detroit, which shot 47 percent (8-of-17) from the arc.
Gasol scored 31 points and Miller added 20 for Memphis, which held the hosts to 45 percent (32-of-71) shooting.
"It all came down to the last two minutes," Gasol said. "We had a couple shots roll off of the rim, and we missed some layups, and they made shots. Chauncey hit those two big threes, especially the one in transition, and that broke the game open."
The Pistons have the fourth-best record in NBA history after 41 games. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls and the 1971-72 Lakers were 38-3 and the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers were 37-4.
"When you play 82 games, it's tough to play at an unbelievably high level all 82 games," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "Right now we're playing at a high level. Our level that we're playing at is where many teams' mountains are."