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Okur earns first career double-double

2/5/2003

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Los Angeles Clippers thought they
might have a chance to steal a win Wednesday night with the Detroit
Pistons missing All-Star Ben Wallace.

Instead, Detroit unleashed its secret weapon.

Rookie Mehmet Okur had the first double-double of his career
with 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Pistons to an 89-80
victory.

"Mehmet is getting better and better as he adjusts to this
league," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "He's been used to the
trapezoidal lane in Europe, but he's getting his low-post game
together over here, and he complements it with a nice outside
touch."

Okur, who entered the game averaging 5.1 points and 4.0
rebounds, was proud of his effort.

"This might be my first double-double, but my goal is to get
one every night," he said. "My teammates know where to get me the
ball, and I'm getting used to them. Tonight was just great."

Detroit enters the All-Star break with a four-game winning
streak, winning the last three by an average of 27.7 points.

"This was a game that looked easier on paper than it really
was," Carlisle said. "We're playing well, but the guys were
serious about it and no one got suckered into thinking it was going
to be easy."

Los Angeles has lost four in a row and seven of eight.

"I think a lot of guys are looking forward to the All-Star
break," Elton Brand said. "We just didn't battle at all in the
first half, and the Pistons hit some shots and got a big lead."

Wallace is in Alabama after the death of his mother and will go
straight to Atlanta for Sunday's All-Star game after the funeral
Saturday.

"I told Memo that without Ben, we needed a double-double from
him -- or else," Jon Barry said. "He got a lot of good looks
tonight, but that is going to change as teams realize that he is a
legitimate scoring option. That's going to be his next
adjustment."

Cliff Robinson had 17 points for the Pistons and Corliss
Williamson added 12.

"I think we all feel good about what we have been able to do in
the first half of the season," Robinson said. "We just have to
get a little hungrier in the second half. We've got a chance to
battle for home-court throughout the playoffs, and we have to focus
on that."

Brand led the Clippers with 18 points and Melvin Ely had 14.

The Clippers kept the game close for 14 minutes, trailing 26-23
early in the second quarter.

The Pistons, though, went on a 19-4 run to go up by 18. Detroit
got six points from Williamson and five from rookie Tayshaun Prince
during the surge.

"That was just a terrible second quarter," Clippers coach
Alvin Gentry said. "We couldn't score and we gave up 35 points."

Detroit led 56-32 at halftime and was up by as many as 27 in the
third quarter before taking a 77-55 edge into the final period.

The Pistons let up in the fourth, but the Clippers never got the
margin to single digits until Quentin Richardson's 3-pointer with a
second left.

"I was happy with the way we competed all the way to the end,"
Gentry said. "Obviously, it is tough playing from 27 down, but we
took it from 27 to nine, and that's good."

Game notes
Several Pistons wore black No. 3 armbands in tribute to
Wallace. ... Los Angeles' Marko Jaric missed the game with the flu.
... Detroit signed veteran forward Danny Manning before the game
and placed Juan Sanchez (knee) on the injured list. ... Detroit has
won 17 of its last 19 home games against the Clippers. ... The
teams split the season series after a 74-72 Clippers win on Nov. 3
in Los Angeles.

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