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Billups has bragging rights, for now

12/30/2002

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Chauncey Billups insists that he didn't have revenge on his mind Saturday night.

Bragging rights were more than enough.

Billups scored 21 points against his former team, and Richard
Hamilton had 24 as the Detroit Pistons routed the Minnesota Timberwolves 106-82 on Saturday night.

"I was playing against a lot of good friends tonight,'' said
Billups, who played in Minnesota for two seasons before coming to
Detroit as a free agent in July. "There are no hard feelings, but
now I can brag. At least until we go there in February.''

Minnesota's Kevin Garnett wasn't surprised by Billups' big game.

"I knew he was going to be a little jacked up, because I talked
to him last night and there was a little trash talk and whatever,''
he said. "You had to anticipate him having a good night.''

Mehmet Okur had a career-high 15 points and Ben Wallace added 10
points and 17 rebounds for the Pistons, who improved to 8-3 against
the Western Conference -- best of any Eastern Conference team.

"I think we just have a really good style for Western
Conference teams,'' Billups said. "We can run with them, but we
can also play good halfcourt basketball, and a lot of teams in the
West don't want to play that way. Being able to do both helps us a
lot.''

Garnett led Minnesota with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Marc
Jackson added 17 off the bench as the Timberwolves lost for the
third time in five games.

"They basically just manhandled us,'' Minnesota coach Flip
Saunders said. "They totally dominated us physically and their
guards totally dominated the backcourt. We just didn't have enough
firepower. We can't expect KG to do everything.''

Garnett took 20 shots, and still fell nearly two points short of
his season average of 21.7.

"Garnett is such a potent player that it takes a lot to stop
him,'' Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "We had a lot of guys
chipping in against him -- playing physical defense and keeping him
from going off.''

Minnesota is 1-9 against Eastern Conference clubs with records
at .500 or above.

"I'm not just concerned about our record against the top teams
in the East -- I'm concerned whenever we lose to anyone,'' Garnett
said. "It is a matter of not always competing at a high level.
When you play at a high level, it sort of falls in your favor at
the end of the day. That hasn't been happening for us.''

Detroit led 54-44 at the half, thanks to 13 points from Hamilton
and 10 and eight rebounds from Wallace.

"Chauncey came out really aggressively, and he set the tone for
the whole team,'' Hamilton said. "We wanted this one, because
we've got a chance to win a couple at home before the New Year, and
we need to take advantage of it.''

Billups scored the first six points in a 13-2 run that boosted
the Pistons' lead to 77-56 late in the third. Hamilton scored four
points and Michael Curry hit a 3-pointer in the run.

Garnett scored the next five points, but the Pistons still led
79-61 at the end of the third quarter. Billups finished with 11 in
the period.

Detroit led by as many as 28 in the fourth, and cruised to a
win.

"This was definitely one of our best efforts of the season,''
Carlisle said. "We played a solid, unselfish game and a lot of
guys played hard defensively.''

Game notes
The game was the 1,000th of Rod Strickland's NBA career.
... The game was sold out, thanks to a giveaway of Ben Wallace
talking bobbleheads. ... Detroit has won two straight against
Minnesota after losing eight in a row. ... Zeljko Rebraca missed
his third straight game with an irregular heartbeat. The Pistons
hope to have him back for Monday's game against Portland. ...
Garnett and Cliff Robinson each picked up technicals in the third
quarter, while Jackson and Corliss Williamson were called for double-technicals early in the fourth.