Pistons score final eight points to shed Nets on road

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Playing without Rasheed Wallace, the Detroit Pistons stayed close and then turned things over to Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton.

It's a strategy that has produced a lot of wins in recent years.

Billups had 27 points, 11 assists and two of his five steals late and Hamilton scored 26 points and hit a go-ahead basket with 1:35 to play to lead the Pistons to a 90-82 victory over the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night.

"With three or four minutes left in the game, we just feel great about our chances," said Billups after the Pistons won for the eighth time in 11 games. "New Jersey made a run to tie the game and we just felt now was the time to buckle down, get the shots we want and play defense. If the shots didn't go in that's fine, but that's a situation we like."

Billups gave much of the credit for the win to the Pistons bench, which did well with Wallace sidelined with a sore ankle. The unlikely lineup of Will Blalock, Jason Maxiell, Flip Murray, Carlos Delfino and Hamilton led a 9-2 fourth-quarter spurt that gave the Pistons a 78-71 lead with 7:07 to play.

"That was unbelievable," said Billups, who rested for the first 6:29 of the final quarter. "They won the game for us. That allowed me to come in fresh.

Nenad Krstic had a season-high 27 points for the Nets, who lost their second game in as many night. Jason Kidd added 13 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and Vince Carter had 12 points on 5-of-21 shooting.

"We were right there but a lot of unfortunate things happened to us that we could not recover from," Carter said.

The Nets seemed in good position when Kidd hit a 3-pointer with 2:26 to tie the game at 82, and then Detroit's Tayshaun Prince missed a shot.

On the Nets' next possession, however, Billups stole a Richard Jefferson pass and came down the court and found Hamilton coming off a baseline screen for the go-ahead basket.

"We run that in crunch time," Hamilton said. "I just try to gather myself and make a play at the basket."

Carter missed a running 5-footer and complained about the lack of a call by the officials. Billups then pushed the lead to 86-82 with a bank shot.

Prince partially blocked a 3-pointer by Kidd and Carter got the offensive rebound. However, Billups stole the ball again and scored on a fastbreak for an 88-82 lead with 50.4 seconds left.

Hamilton added two final free throws for Detroit which scored the final eight points.

"We had the momentum for a split second at 82-82 and then they came back scored and we get a great look and it doesn't go in for us," Kidd said. "From that point we were going uphill with not that much time left."

Game notes
The game was the nightcap of a day-night, NHL-NBA "Motown" doubleheader at the Continental Airlines Arena. The Detroit Red Wings beat the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in a 1 p.m. A crew took three hours to cover the ice with a basketball floor. ... Nets F Clifford, who sidelined with a knee injury, celebrated his 40th birthday. ... Blalock made his NBA debut, scoring two points in 12 minutes. ... Jefferson had 11 points and a season-high eight assists in returning to the lineup after missing a game with a sore ankle.


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