Pistons Fend Off Sixers
Detroit 87, Philadelphia 80
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 3 (Ticker) -- Friday's matchup between the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers did not have quite the same feel without Larry Brown and Allen Iverson. But thanks to Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace, it had a very familiar result.
Hamilton scored 30 points and Wallace added 20 as the Pistons posted their 11th win in 12 games overall and continued their domination over the 76ers with an 87-80 victory.
"It felt different," Hamilton admitted. "Especially with Allen not here. This may have been the first time that we've played them without him, so it was kind of strange."
It appeared the 76ers would have a hard time hanging around without Iverson, who missed his fourth straight game with a sprained ankle. But they put forth more than a valiant effort.
"They played hard and they didn't quit," Hamilton said. "They have a bunch of young guys that played with a lot of energy. At times, we didn't put the pedal to the metal when we should have, but the only thing that we look at is getting the win at the end of the night."
"I thought our guys played well," Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said. "It was a young group. When you throw a young group against a veteran group, you may be able to win a game like that. A veteran group is going to use their brain a little bit, and that's what they did."
The Sixers cut their fourth-quarter deficit to 71-66 on Andre Iguodala's dunk with nine minutes left, but Maurice Evans answered with a short hook shot and Hamilton made a pair of free throws to restore order.
"It was a great night," Hamilton said. "We missed a lot of opportunities to put them away, I think we missed a lot of wide-open shots. But at the end of the night, when it was time to dig down, we did."
Philadelphia again made a charge, closing to within 77-70 on Chris Webber's driving layup with 4:22 to go. However, Hamilton and Wallace each drilled a jumper on Detroit's next two trips, building the lead back to double digits.
"It's a great feeling that they have," Webber said. "When you look at each other, wink and say, 'OK, we've taken their best shot, but we're going to outthink them and outplay them.' That's what they did. They will do that to every team but one if they don't win the championship."
Hamilton, who is from nearby Coatesville, finished 13-of-26 from the field and chipped in six rebounds and four assists.
"My goal was to come out here and have fun," he said. "I tried not to worry about playing in front of friends and family and just do what got us here. I used my teammates and had a good time."
A native of Philadelphia, Wallace connected on 9-of-18 shots and added seven rebounds and three assists. His effort helped offset a tough performance by Chauncey Billups, who dished out 14 assists but shot just 3-of-14 for seven points.
"That's what a great team is all about," Billups said. "When somebody is struggling, somebody else is picking up the slack, and we've done that time and time out."
Tayshaun Prince added 16 points - including a breakaway dunk with 18 seconds to play - to seal the victory for the Pistons, who have won 11 of the last 13 games in the series, including the playoffs.
"When we needed to make plays down the stretch, we made plays," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "When we needed to make shots, we made shots."
Webber paced five Sixers in double figures with 17 points but made just 8-of-21 shots. Iguodala added 13 points and eight rebounds and Samuel Dalembert 10 and 11 for Philadelphia, which shot 51 percent (36-of-70) but committed 16 turnovers.
"We made some mistakes," said Sixers forward John Salmons, who added 10 points and five assists. "If we cut out those mistakes, we have a chance to win the game."
Webber summarized the game appropriately.
"I think every year, you have about two losses that you really can live with. This is one of them," he said. "We have to use this as a learning experience. If we learn from this, then it is one game in the loss column that doesn't matter if you learn from it."