AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Chauncey Billups scored 27 points,
including 20 in the first quarter, as the Detroit Pistons built an
early lead and maintained it without their best player in a 106-84
win over the undermanned New Jersey Nets on Saturday night.
Kenyon Martin tied his season-high with 29 points for the Nets,
who had won four straight.
New Jersey was without its two leading scorers -- Jason Kidd
(strained groin) and Richard Jefferson (stomach virus) -- for a
second straight game. The Nets hope both will play Monday at home
Pistons center Ben Wallace left the game at halftime after learning that his mother had been taken to an Alabama hospital, where she later died.
Wallace, who will start for the East in the All-Star Game next
week, tied a team record with seven blocks in the first half
against the Nets. He also grabbed seven rebounds and scored two
Richard Hamilton scored 24 for the Pistons, who won their third
straight. Reserve Corliss Williamson scored 17 and Cliff Robinson
New Jersey has lost five of seven games on the road. Brian
Scalabrine scored 16 and Kerry Kittles added 15 for the Nets.
Detroit, which won Friday at Boston by 52 points for its most
lopsided win ever, got off to a strong start thanks to Billups.
Billups had 10 points as Detroit jumped out to a 14-2, and his
20th point -- on a spectacular reverse layup -- gave the Pistons a
32-15 lead with 1:55 in the first quarter.
New Jersey then closed the first quarter with a 10-2 run to make
Detroit led by 18 at halftime and didn't let the Nets cut the
cushion to single digits until they made a final push to make it
87-78 with 6:02 left. The Pistons ended New Jersey's comeback hopes
with a 10-2 run.
Detroit won the season series against New Jersey 2-1. ...
Kidd and Jefferson average a combined 35.4 points, 12.3 rebounds
and 10.6 assists. ... Detroit is 25-3 against New Jersey at The
Palace, its best record against any team. ... Wallace tied the
blocks record set by Edgar Jones in 1981, and matched by Terry
Tyler in 1982. ... Detroit is 11-6 against winning teams in the
Eastern Conference. ... Billups has scored 67 points in his past
three games. ... Martin fell two points short of his career-high.