TORONTO (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons are already preparing to
defend their NBA title, just days after clinching their fourth
straight postseason berth.
Detroit clinched a playoff spot with Friday's win over the Los
Angeles Clippers. The Pistons hold a 4½ game lead over surging
Chicago in the Central Division.
Detroit coach Larry Brown made all five starters play at least
"Now, with nine or 10 games left, we are looking more at the
playoffs and getting better and getting a set rotation," Billups
said. "Now is the time to look and see what works to defend our
title. Today was one of the games he started to look at that."
Richard Hamilton had 19 points, tied a season-high with 11
assists and had nine rebounds -- falling a rebound short of his
first career triple double.
After the game, Antonio McDyess told Hamilton he purposely
avoided grabbing three rebounds in an effort to help Hamilton.
"You keep looking at the scoring sheet, but you're still one
short," McDyess joked.
Rasheed Wallace added 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons,
who shot 58 percent. Detroit outscored Toronto 44-30 in the paint.
With the Pistons clinging to a one-point with 10:10 left in the
fourth quarter, Billups started a 16-0 run with a jumper and
3-pointer. Wallace capped it with a short jumper, giving Detroit a
107-90 lead with 4:38 left as the Raptors were held scoreless for
over five minutes.
"They are the world champs and I think in that fourth quarter
they showed why," Toronto's Morris Peterson said. "They executed
on offense, got key defensive stops and we were unable to
Peterson and Jalen Rose each had 22 points for the Raptors, who
are six games behind Philadelphia for eighth and final playoff spot
with nine games remaining.
Detroit's Tayshaun Prince made the play of the game in the first
half by blocking Rafer Alston's layup attempt before tumbling into
Toronto's bench to keep the ball inbounds. Hamilton followed with a
3-pointer to give Detroit a seven-point lead.
"There's a reason why that group won a championship last year
and why they are going to compete for another," Toronto coach Sam
The Raptors are 13 games below .500 (30-43) with nine games
left. Toronto will likely not make the playoffs for the third
straight year. ... The Pistons are 15-4 all-time in Toronto.