Pistons Edge Bulls for 13th Straight Home Win
Detroit 106, Chicago 101
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., March 8 (Ticker) -- Chauncey Billups and the Detroit Pistons played through their early struggles to finish perfect against the Chicago Bulls.
Billups scored 27 points, Rasheed Wallace added 25 and Richard Hamilton 24 as the Pistons won their 13th straight home game with a 106-101 victory over the Bulls.
It was not easy as Detroit found itself in a 48-41 hole at the break due to 35 percent (16-of-46) shooting.
"We struggled a lot offensively in the first half," Billups said. "They were just outplaying us. They played tougher and harder and that's not what we're about. Thankfully, we got it going in the third quarter. I hit some shots and some other guys stepped up and hit some shots. That kinda woke us up a little bit."
"I thought we had terrible energy, terrible passion in the first half," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We just seemed very disinterested."
After pulling even in the third quarter and temporarily grabbing the lead, the Pistons took the lead for good when Billups sank three foul shots for a 65-63 advantage.
That ignited a 13-2 burst which extended into the final period. Billups scored eight points in the surge, and Hamilton's 3-pointer capped it at 75-65 with 10:45 left.
The Bulls crept within 100-97 on Andres Nocioni's dunk with 1:28 remaining. After a jumper by Billups was answered by Ben Gordon's basket, Nocioni netted two foul shots with 41 seconds to go, making it 102-101.
Chicago had a chance to take the lead, but Wallace stole the ball from Gordon and sank two free throws with 15 ticks left. On the ensuing possession, Ben Wallace blocked Nocioni's potential tying 3-pointer, and Rasheed Wallace drained two more foul shots to secure the win.
"It was a crazy game, but we didn't panic," said Hamilton, who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter. "We just stayed with it and things started to happen. We've won a lot of games this year. We know the main thing is to get the win."
The teams combined for 75 points in the fourth quarter, uncharacteristic for a pair of squads that rely on defense.
"It was surprising," Billups said. "It was up-tempo, up and down. It was kind of fun but it was a shootout."
Losing a lead in the second half was all too familiar for Chicago coach Scott Skiles.
"I'm happy that we played hard, but that should be a given," Skiles said. "We need to learn from these experiences and make progress. We've had too many times this year when we've come out in the third quarter and haven't been as sharp. It happened again tonight. I can't fault anybody's effort. Our guys fought right to the end, but at this level, there are no moral victories. It's a game we should have won."
"We kind of beat ourselves," said Kirk Hinrich, who had 11 points and five assists. "We didn't get key rebounds and we turned it over a bunch of times in the second half. A team like Detroit makes you pay for that. I think we're all disappointed. We wanted to win this game and felt like we should have won it. We just have to continue to play this way and hopefully, be playing in the postseason."
The tenacity of the Bulls impressed the Pistons.
"They're a scrappy team as far as just doing the little things to stay in the game," said Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, who grabbed a key offensive rebound down the stretch and fed Hamilton for a basket.
"They shot the ball well from the perimeter all night," he continued. "It was a tough loss for them because they shot well all night - from two and three - outrebounded us and still lost the game."
Billups made 4-of-5 shots from behind the arc and handed out nine assists. Ben Wallace had 11 rebounds and four steals.
Gordon scored 28 points and Nocioni added 23 for Chicago, which has alternated wins and losses in its last six games.