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Billups, Pistons spank Spurs in Finals rematch

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- This was not just another game for
Antonio McDyess. He was still stung by the Pistons' loss in the NBA
Finals six months ago.

The reserve forward came through with a season-high 13 rebounds
and 10 points in Detroit's 85-70 victory Sunday over San Antonio --
a rematch of the title series and a game between the teams with the
two best records in the league this season.

"I was a little more motivated for the win," McDyess said
after his first double-double of the season. "It was my first
finals. To lose like we did, I'm going to remember it for the rest
of my life."

McDyess seemed to take the setback the hardest because he wasn't
on the team when it won the title two seasons ago.

"He was so close and it sort of slipped away," teammate Ben
Wallace said.

Detroit dominated this gritty defensive struggle. The Pistons
held the Spurs to their lowest-scoring first quarter as they missed
13 of their last 14 shots. Both teams shot about 40 percent.

"You saw both teams as basically who they are -- meat-and-potato
teams," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "Maybe this is why the
game wasn't hyped as much. This is what basketball was meant to be
like -- play defense, play team basketball."

The game featuring the past two champions opened the NBA's
annual Christmas doubleheader, lacking the Shaq-Kobe hype of the
Heat-Lakers matchup that followed.

"We're very honored, but we realize it is a great
responsibility to play in the JV game," San Antonio coach Gregg
Popovich joked before the game. "We have to do a good job to make
sure the fans stay around to watch the varsity game."

The Pistons won their seventh straight and improved to an
NBA-best 22-3, their best 25-game record in franchise history. The
Spurs have lost three of five, but their 21-7 mark is the league's
second best.

"We were playing a lot closer at the end of the season,"
Popovich said. "They're a little bit ahead of us."

Detroit's Chauncey Billups scored 20 points and Ben Wallace had
10 points and 21 rebounds, the most for him since the 2003-04
season. Rasheed Wallace scored 14 points and Richard Hamilton had
11 for the Pistons.

"We've had different people carry us at different times,"
Saunders said. "That's what has made this a very good team, and
has made us tougher to play against."

While the game was low scoring, much like the 2005 NBA Finals,
the matchups were intriguing.

Bruce Bowen hounded Hamilton, holding him to 4-of-15 shooting.
Tim Duncan and Rasheed Wallace dueled sensationally near the
basket.

The Pistons have maintained their gutty defense while being more
aggressive -- and effective -- on offense under Saunders. Detroit was
coached the previous two years by Larry Brown, now with the New
York Knicks.

"Flip has upped their offense," Popovich said. "He has them
really confident in what they're running offensively, but they're
also one of the best defensive teams in the game."

San Antonio's Tony Parker scored 19 points and Duncan had 18
points and 11 rebounds.

With Manu Ginobili missing his eighth straight game with a
sprained right foot, Parker and Duncan had little help. Reserve
Nazr Mohammed had 10 points. Michael Finley, who replaced Ginobili,
had three points on 1-of-7 shooting.

"We would love to have Manu, but that wouldn't have made much
of a difference on the boards," Popovich said.

The Pistons made just 42 percent of their shots, but held the
Spurs to 40 percent shooting and outrebounded them 57-30, including
18-6 on the offensive glass.

"Every time we got within four or five, they would get an
offensive rebound," Popovich said.

Detroit led by 10 after holding the Spurs to eight points, their
fewest first-quarter points in franchise history and a total that
matched their low from any quarter.

The Spurs lost the lead midway through the first quarter, and
didn't regain it. Detroit led by four after three quarters and
outscored the Spurs 28-17 in the fourth.

"They just outplayed us, honestly," Duncan said. "They took
the game over down the stretch."

The Pistons, playing on Christmas for the third time in four
years, hosted a game on the holiday for the first time since 1984,
when they played at the Pontiac Silverdome. The Spurs played on the
holiday for the first time since 1999.

"We had a little more energy because we were at home," Ben
Wallace said. "It's tough to play away from home on Christmas."

The Spurs led 6-2 before turning cold. Detroit scored the last
eight points of the quarter, taking an 18-8 lead. Parker was 4-of-8
in the first quarter, and his teammates were scoreless after
missing 12 shots and two free throws. San Antonio stayed in the
game with its defense, holding the Pistons to 6-of-18 shooting.

Duncan, the reigning NBA Finals MVP, came alive in the second
quarter with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting. But the Pistons got
eight points from reserves and led 40-30 at halftime. San Antonio
went on a 10-4 run early in the second half and later scored six
straight, pulling to 49-46.

The Pistons led 57-53 after three quarters. McDyess made
consecutive baskets early in the fourth to spark an 11-4 run,
allowing Detroit to coast to victory.

"We just tried to show that we're the best team," McDyess
said.

Game notes
The sold-out crowd included Kid Rock, a regular at The
Palace, and Eva Longoria, Parker's girlfriend. Longoria was booed
when shown on the video board, and she responded by holding up a
Spurs championship pendant on her necklace. ... San Antonio tied
its franchise low for points in a quarter, set in 1999 and matched
in 2001. ... The Spurs surpassed their franchise low for points in
the first half by two points. ... Detroit plays Jan. 12 at San
Antonio.