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Wallace posts second career triple-double

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Ben Wallace's rebounding and shot-blocking skills have become so good, his Detroit Pistons teammates barely even notice any more.

But even they pay attention when he gets a triple-double.

Wallace had 19 rebounds, a season-best 12 points and tied a
franchise high with 10 blocks to lead the Pistons to a 79-68
victory over the Miami Heat on Wednesday night.

"He is an unbelievable player,'' Jon Barry said. "We take him
for granted a lot of the time, but he just went out there and had
10 blocks and 19 boards. That's amazing.''

The triple-double was the second of Wallace's career, and he matched the team record for blocks, which he shared with Edgar Jones.

"Usually, it is the points that is hard for me,'' Wallace said. "Tonight, all the guys were telling me that I only needed one more block, so I wanted to get it for them. They did most of the work -- they play such great defense that I can swoop in and get the easy block or the easy rebound.''

Chucky Atkins scored a season-best 21 points in place of the injured Chauncey Billups, and Cliff Robinson added 13 for the Pistons, who improved to 6-0 at home.

"Obviously, we need Chucky's scoring when Chauncey isn't in there, but he also picked up his floor game,'' Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "He played a very solid game against a tough guy like Travis Best, and he did it without getting in foul trouble.''

Eddie Jones scored 15 points, while Vladimir Stepania added 12
points and 13 rebounds for Miami, which failed to reach 70 points
for the second time in three games.

"We didn't have a single player that I felt played well,'' Miami coach Pat Riley said. "We tried taking the ball to the basket, but (Wallace) was just awesome. We didn't have our heads sharp and into the game. We needed to challenge them, and we didn't do it.''

The Pistons led 37-34 after a slow-paced first half. Detroit's
lead could have been bigger, but the Pistons missed eight of 12
free throws in the half.

Detroit started the third with a 7-0 run that included five
points from Atkins. That put the Pistons ahead 44-34, and they
increased the margin to 58-46 by the end of the period.

"That is getting to be a pattern for us -- we have a disappointing first half, and then we get angry and play better in the second half,'' Carlisle said. "We need to find a way to get angry at the start of the game.''

Unfortunately for the Heat, the third quarter was nothing new for them, either. They have only outscored their opponent three times in the third quarter all season.

"The third quarter has been our nemesis all season, and it did us in tonight,'' Riley said. "We just couldn't stay the course and we started to make mistakes.''

Robinson made a 3-pointer to start the fourth to make it a 15-point game, and Miami never cut the margin back to single digits.

"That was a very solid win for us,'' Carlisle said. "Miami is a tough team for us, because they play a similar style. They always play hard, and they scramble things up.''

Game notes
Wallace set a Pistons record with six blocks in the first quarter. The previous record was five by three players, including Wallace. ... Wallace's first triple-double -- 17 rebounds, 10 points, 10 blocks -- came on Feb. 24 in Milwaukee. ... Billups sprained his ankle Monday in a loss to the Knicks. He's day to day. ... Robinson missed five of six free throws in the first half. ... The teams play again Friday in Miami. ... The Heat have lost six of seven. ... Jones was the only Miami starter to reach double figures
in points.

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