McDyess, Pistons Top Hornets for 60th Win
Detroit 101, New Orleans/Oklahoma City 93
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., April 4 (Ticker) -- With All-Star Rasheed Wallace serving a suspension, Antonio McDyess helped the Detroit Pistons reach a milestone.
McDyess had 26 points and 14 rebounds off the bench and Chauncey Billups added 22 points and 11 assists as the Pistons reached 60 wins on the season with a 101-93 triumph over the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.
McDyess picked up the slack in Wallace's absence, matching a season-high 38 minutes. The veteran forward scored nine straight of his team's points at one stretch in the third quarter.
"Antonio was great," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "He's been playing like that for a while now. He has a lot of confidence in himself."
"I had to (step up)," McDyess said. "You can't replace a guy like Rasheed. I just tried to come out and play hard and give the team what they needed."
Behind the offensive output of McDyess and Billups, the Pistons recorded their first 60-win season since going 63-19 in 1988-89 en route to winning the NBA title.
McDyess made 11-of-17 shots and Billups sank all 12 of his free throws.
"Last year around this time we were probably saying 40, 45 wins," McDyess said with a laugh. "To say 60, that's a great accomplishment. I think we all need to pat ourselves on the back for that."
After McDyess made a layup with 8:12 remaining to give the Pistons an 86-68 lead, the Hornets used a 13-1 run to get back into the game.
Rookie Chris Paul, who collected 24 points and 10 assists, found Aaron Williams for a layup to cap the burst with four minutes left. The Hornets got as close as five points at 92-87.
But Billups made two foul shots and Tony Delk drilled a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock for a 97-87 edge with 81 seconds left, securing the Pistons' fifth straight win.
Billups had some praise for Paul, the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year.
"He's a tough cookie," Billups said. "He's very fast and shifty and he can score the ball."
Tayshaun Prince finished with 18 points for Detroit, which connected on 6-of-14 shots from beyond the arc.
David West scored 24 points for the Hornets (35-38), who had their three-game winning streak snapped and remained two games behind Sacramento for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.
"That's a championship team," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "I was very proud of the way our guys fought. Being so young and having to go against a great basketball team like Detroit, even without Rasheed we knew it was going to be difficult. We had to play almost a perfect basketball game (to win)."