Pistons Bounce Back Against Visiting Nets
Detroit 85, New Jersey 71
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Feb. 14 (Ticker) -- After a disappointing setback to one Eastern Conference division leader, Chauncey Billups and the Detroit Pistons took out their frustrations on another.
Billups had 19 points and 10 assists and Richard Hamilton added 18 points as the Pistons posted an impressive 85-71 victory over the New Jersey Nets.
"I told the team that it is always a good sign when you get to the break with single-digit losses," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said.
One of four All-Stars for Detroit, Billups helped erased the memory of that setback with his effort against the Nets, who lead Philadelphia by 2 1/2 games in the Atlantic and beat the Pistons in New Jersey two weeks ago.
Billups made 4-of-10 shots and 9-of-10 free throws en route to his third straight double-double and career-best 16th of the season.
"It was a good win for us, to come back, especially after a tough loss against Miami and playing a team that beat us a couple weeks ago," Billups said. "We came out focused today and took care of business."
He did most of his damage in the third quarter, when the Pistons turned a tight contest into a rout. After Jason Kidd connected with Vince Carter for an alley-oop slam to cut the Nets' deficit to 49-46 with 7:46 left, Billups answered with a 3-pointer and two free throws to push the lead to 54-46 with 6:26 remaining.
Billups added three assists over the next six minutes before ending the period with a three-point play that made it 71-50.
"We shoot 4-for-17, our offense hurt us," New Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said. "We put ourselves in a bad way in the third quarter. On the road against a good team, it's one heck of a hole to dig yourself out of."
New Jersey got no closer than 17 in the fourth before closing the game with a meaningless 6-0 spurt.
"We felt we had to still get paint attacks and that third quarter, we fell asleep at the wheel," said Kidd, who tied a season-low with just three assists. "They kept playing and they got baskets, easy baskets. When a team like Detroit gets easy baskets, you're going to be in for a long night."
Rasheed Wallace collected 13 points and 11 rebounds and Ben Wallace 10 and 13 for the Pistons, who improved to 23-2 at home this season.
Richard Jefferson scored 18 points for the Nets, who have lost seven straight road games. Bothered by a head cold, All-Star Vince Carter was held to 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
"We have to figure out what we do at home and keep our patience and not get frustrated," Kidd said of the team's road woes.
Celebrating his 28th birthday, Hamilton scored 12 points in the first half to help the Pistons build a 45-39 lead in their final game before the All-Star break.
"Usually, these games are tough to play when you know you've got a week off, but our energy was great tonight," Hamilton said.
Of course, Hamilton, Billups and the Wallaces don't get the week off as they will play in this weekend's All-Star Game. Then, it's back to the grind.
"No doubt, you've got to be proud of what we did so far and we are very proud of this first 51 games," Billups said. "But our work is far, far from being over with. We look to try to pick back up and have a great second part of the season."