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Detroit wins fourth in a row

2/2/2004

MIAMI (AP) -- Once again, the Detroit Pistons were at their best
with the game on the line. This time they were lucky, too.

Helped by a disputed referee's ruling after Richard Hamilton
sank a tie-breaking 14-footer with 14 seconds left, the Pistons
earned their fourth consecutive down-to-the-wire win Monday night,
beating the Miami Heat 102-100 in overtime.

The Pistons have won four games in a row by a total of eight
points, including two overtime victories.

"We found a way to grind it out," said Corliss Williamson, who
scored 17 points off the bench. "It seemed like this game was
destined to come down to the last shot."

After Hamilton put Detroit ahead, the Heat's Udonis Haslem
appeared to be fouled on the arm by Williamson going for a layup
with 10 seconds left. Instead Miami was given possession out of
bounds.

Three passes left the ball with Rafer Alston, who missed a
desperation 27-footer.

"If the foul is called, we're still playing," Heat coach Stan
Van Gundy said. "We made the plays to win."

When Pistons coach Larry Brown was asked about the officiating,
he said: "Please, I can't. I can't get into that. We won."

The Heat may have again lost rookie guard Dwyane Wade, who
sprained his left ankle under the Miami basket with 2:22 left in
the fourth quarter and hobbled out of the game. X-rays were
negative, and Wade's status was day-to-day.

Wade, who missed 13 games with a sprained wrist before returning
last week, finished with 17 points and six assists.

"You have to wonder what might have happened if Dwyane Wade
hadn't gotten hurt," Brown said.

Tayshaun Prince scored a career-high 24 points for Detroit.

"Once I made some shots early, it kind of got the team going
real good," Prince said.

Chauncey Billups added 23 points. All-Star center Ben Wallace
had just six points but made the game's most spectacular play late
in overtime, blocking a shot by Lamar Odom after Detroit turned the
ball over under the Heat basket.

"Ben made a play that I've never seen in my life," Brown said.
"I told him I've been coaching a long time and I can't ever
remember any better play. Amazing."

Billups sank an acrobatic layup to put Detroit ahead in
overtime, then made a 20-footer for a 100-96 lead.

But the Pistons committed turnovers on their next three
possessions. Odom scored for Miami, and Caron Butler sank a follow
to tie the game with 34 seconds remaining.

Eddie Jones finished with 19 points for Miami. Odom had his 24th
double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

The Pistons have won 29 games in a row when they score 100
points, including eight this season. They improved to 3-0 against
Miami this season.

Billups sank a 3-pointer, then was fouled on a 3-point try and
made all three free throws to put Detroit up 90-88 late in
regulation. Haslem sank two baskets for Miami, and Prince scored to
make it 92-all.

Williamson twice sank baskets to put Detroit ahead in the final
2{ minutes of regulation, but two free throws by Butler made the
score 96-all with 16 seconds left. Billups missed a 3-point try at
the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.

Game notes
The Heat were again without center Brian Grant, who has
missed four games because of knee tendinitis. There are no plans to
put Grant on the injured list, Van Gundy said. ... The Pistons
played host to the NBA All-Star Game 25 years ago Wednesday. ...
Detroit will try for a sweep of the season series with Miami at
home April 2. ... The Heat rank last in the league in assists and
blocks per game. ... Odom scored in double figures for the 23rd
consecutive game, tying his career high.