Stoudemire has best game of season; Pistons lose third straight

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Steve Nash isn't going to complain
about getting a win at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

But he feels the victory deserves an asterisk because of the
injury to Pistons All-Star guard Chauncey Billups.

"It's not like we are going home feeling like we beat the
Pistons," Nash said after the Phoenix Suns' 108-101 victory
Sunday. "We won the game, but we know they didn't have their full
team. It's simple math. They still have a lot of talented players,
but Chauncey's one of the best in the league."

Billups strained a calf muscle at the end of Friday's one-point
loss to Indiana, and Nash took full advantage of his absence,
finishing with 35 points and 12 assists.

"He's been taking over a lot of games lately, and he did it
again today," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said.

Amare Stoudemire added a season-high 31 points for the Suns and
had 13 rebounds and three blocks.

"We're going to win a lot of games when Amare plays that kind
of defense," Nash said. "He has a lot of pride and he wants to
grow as a defender."

After the Pistons erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth
quarter, Nash hit consecutive jumpers to put Phoenix back ahead
95-91 with 4:10 to play.

Detroit got within 101-99 on Carlos Delfino's layup with 1:39
left, but he missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer on the next
possession, and Nash's three-point play put the game away.

The Pistons acknowledged they didn't have any answers for Nash,
especially without Billups.

"If you ask me to be a coach and tell you how to defend him, I
don't know," Tayshaun Prince of the Pistons said. "Not him."

The loss was Detroit's third straight.

"When you don't have Chauncey, it puts a lot of stress on your
other players," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "I can't fault
our guys, they came out and played hard. Unfortunately, they had an
MVP who made MVP plays down the stretch."

Raja Bell of the Suns was ejected when he was given his second
technical of the game after a fourth-quarter bumping incident with
Richard Hamilton. Hamilton, who scored 31 points for Detroit, also
received a technical on the play.

"I knew Rip was trying to goad me into something, and I didn't
want any part of it," Bell said. "I asked the ref if he saw what
Rip was doing, but he didn't do anything. Rip started talking
again, and as soon as I said anything, he gave us a double T."

Bell and Shawn Marion both had 15 points for Phoenix.

Flip Murray, getting more minutes in place of Billups, set
season highs of 18 points and seven assists, but Rasheed Wallace
scored just 10 points on 4-for-17 shooting, including going 0-for-7
from 3-point range.

"I couldn't put a rock in the ocean," Wallace said. "I'm not
worried about it. You just go back and get them the next time."

The Pistons scored the game's first six points, but Phoenix
built a double-digit lead by the end of the first quarter and led
56-50 at halftime. Stoudemire had 19 points in the half for the
Suns, while Hamilton led the Pistons with 18.

Detroit got as close as two points during the third, but Phoenix
was up 84-78 at period's end.

The Suns led 90-80 early in the fourth, but the Pistons scored
the next 11 points, going ahead 91-90 on Murray's fast-break layup
with 5:04 to play.

Game notes
Billups is scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday. "It's feeling
better today, but I don't know. I'm not going to play until I feel
all the way right." ... Detroit hadn't lost three straight since
the 2004-05 season. ... The start of the game was delayed for about
five minutes by moisture on the court from an apparent leak in the
arena roof. ... Bell got his first technical in the second quarter
for arguing a call, then loudly swore at a fan seated behind the
scorer's table. Bell only shook his head when asked about the
incident after the game. Stoudemire was also called for a technical
in the second quarter.

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