Pistons extend Wizards' skid to three

Billups rules final period, rallying Detroit from 5 down to 105-96 victory

February 02, 2005|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - In recent years, staying close to the reigning world champions deep into the fourth quarter might have been considered a step in the right direction for the Washington Wizards.

Since the Wizards have been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA and one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference this season, last night's 105-96 defeat to the Detroit Pistons at MCI Center would not qualify as anything but a disappointment.

After turning a five-point halftime deficit into a five-point lead going into the fourth quarter, the Wizards reverted to their role as wanna-bes and the Pistons played with the confidence that came from taking home the trophy last season.

Chauncey Billups led a 13-2 run that broke open the game, scoring 11 of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter to help Detroit (27-18) overtake suddenly slumping Washington (26-18) for the second-best mark in the East.

Antawn Jamison finished with 26 points, shooting nine of 19 from the field after missing 15 of his 21 shots in Saturday's home loss to the Orlando Magic. Gilbert Arenas scored 21 points for the Wizards to go along with eight assists.

It marked the first three-game losing streak of the season for Washington, which is tied for third-best record in the East with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"We start off [February] 0-1, but there are no panic buttons being pushed," said Wizards coach Eddie Jordan. "It is a fact of the NBA. It [a losing streak] is going to happen for most teams. We always say we have to bounce back and see what we are made of when we are in a situation like this."

Said Jamison: "It's been hard. I thought we should have won those two games against Orlando, but tonight Detroit just executed better offensively and defensively. We had some costly turnovers down the stretch, but you have to give them credit."

The league's second-best defensive team clamped down when it needed to, shutting down Jamison after a hot start and keeping Arenas under control for most of the night. It didn't even surprise Pistons coach Larry Brown that his team's normally deliberate offense nearly doubled the run-and-gun Wizards on fast-break points (27-14).

"We have been getting opportunities on the break because we have been rebounding and defending well," Brown said.

A free throw by reserve forward Antonio McDyess put the Pistons ahead 86-85, and Billups, the Most Valuable Player of last year's Finals upset of the Los Angeles Lakers, took over.

Billups scored on a layup and was fouled, making a three-point play. Then, after a short jumper by Juan Dixon was disallowed by a foul call against Brendan Haywood, Billups hit a three as the 24-second shot clock was about to expire. He would later hit another three to put the Pistons ahead 103-91 with 50.5 seconds to play.

"Chauncey made some big threes," Dixon said. "What Detroit tried to do down the stretch was take advantage of the mismatches."

Despite little help from the bench - McDyess, who finished with five points and 10 rebounds, was the only reserve to score - the Pistons resembled the team that ran through the Lakers last June rather than one that recently endured a four-game losing streak.

"We've been in so many games like this, it's like clockwork," said Billups. "We were focused."












Percentages: FG .446, FT .743. 3-point goals: 5-13, .385 (Billups 4-9, Prince 1-2, R.Wallace 0-1, Hunter 0-1). Team rebounds: 13. Team turnovers: 13 (14 pts). Blocked shots: 10 (B.Wallace 3, Hamilton 3, Prince 2, R.Wallace 2). Turnovers: 12 (Prince 4, Hamilton 3, Billups 2, R.Wallace 2, B.Wallace). Steals: 11 (Hunter 4, Billups 2, R.Wallace 2, B.Wallace, Hamilton, McDyess). Technical fouls: None. FGFTReb












Percentages: FG .429, FT .727. 3-point goals: 8-21, .381 (Jamison 3-6, Arenas 3-11, Hayes 1-1, Jeffries 1-2, J.Dixon 0-1). Team rebounds: 11. Team turnovers: 15 (22 pts). Blocked shots: 6 (Jeffries 4, J.Dixon, Hayes). Turnovers: 15 (Thomas 2, J.Dixon 2, Arenas 2, Hayes 2, Jamison 2, Ruffin 2, Haywood, Jeffries, Blake). Steals: 8 (Jeffries 3, Haywood, Arenas, Hayes, Jamison, Ruffin). Technical fouls: Defensive Three Second, 9:31 second. Detroit25271835-105


A-16,843 (20,674). T-2:12. Officials-Ron Garretson, Tony Brown, Rodney Mott.

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