Billups drops 31 on Heat

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Miami Heat know they might be
facing the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the playoffs.

They didn't enjoy Friday night's preview.

The Heat led by as many as 13 in the first half, but Detroit's
NBA-leading defense held them to just 39 points in the final two
quarters in the Pistons' 92-84 victory.

"They just took the game over at the end," Miami coach Stan
Van Gundy said. "That's a great, great defensive basketball

Chauncey Billups had 31 points, seven rebounds and seven assists
to lead the Pistons to their 11th win in 13 games. Rasheed Wallace
added 17 points after missing two games because of a sore back, and
Mehmet Okur and Corliss Williamson both had 11.

"We really needed that," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "We
had a lot of trouble stopping them, but we had a lot of guys pick
it up in the second half. I thought our defense picked up and our
offense got better."

Lamar Odom led the Heat with 18 points before fouling out late
in the fourth quarter. Eddie Jones scored 16, and Caron Butler
added 13 points and nine rebounds in Miami's second loss in its
last 11 games.

"We know they are a great team, but that was a two-possession
game and it could have been a different story," Jones said. "I
don't care who we play in the first round, but it would be a great
series if it is Detroit."

Miami held the Pistons to just 30.2-percent shooting in the
first half and built a 45-37 lead. Jones and Billups each had 11 in
the half.

"We were just not playing together, especially on the defensive
end," Ben Wallace said. "We came out a little lackadaisical."

Detroit, though, scored the first seven points of the third,
including five by Rasheed Wallace, to get back into the game.

The Pistons took a 52-49 lead midway through the quarter, but
Miami came back to lead 65-60 going into the fourth.

The Pistons scored the first seven points of the fourth, taking
a 67-65 edge on Mike James' 3-pointer with 10:07 left. James played
with Miami last season, and felt that gave him an advantage.

"I have a lot of close friends on that team and they really
haven't changed their system," he said. "So when I went into the
game, I knew what they liked to do and what they don't like to do,
and I was able to try to disrupt things."

Miami tied it at 71, but Billups' layup and Mehmet Okur's
3-pointer gave the Pistons a 76-71 advantage with 6:46 to go.

The Heat tried to stay close, but Rasheed Wallace and Billups
hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to increase the margin
to eight. Odom fouled out moments later, and the Pistons cruised to
the victory.

"Those threes were the biggest shots of the game," Van Gundy
said. "We had a chance, but we've got to find a way to keep Lamar
on the floor."

Game notes
Rasheed Wallace and Bimbo Coles, who is on Miami's injured
list, were called for technical fouls after a third-quarter
trash-talking duel. ... Detroit swept the season series with Miami
for the first time since 1988-89 -- the Heat's first season. ...
Detroit's Richard Hamilton scored a season-low three points and
fouled out in 21 minutes of action.

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