for this game

Hamilton, Murray carry Pistons past Celtics

Jan 14, 2007 - 5:12 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Rip and Flip might be finding their groove together.

Richard "Rip" Hamilton scored 22 points and Ronald "Flip" Murray added a season-high 21 as the Detroit Pistons held on for an 81-73 triumph over the lowly Boston Celtics.

Tayshaun Prince netted 16 points and Rasheed Wallace had 10 and 11 rebounds for Detroit, which bounced back from consecutive embarrassing losses to Charlotte (12-23) and Atlanta (11-23).

"When you're struggling, you have to fight through it," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "You have to grind through it and go with effort. We played hard.

"A lot of times we had three guys on the glass, we were tipping it in and the ball was rolling out. We just need to get into a situation where you can kind of relax a little and get in the flow and just play."

Al Jefferson and Gerald Green combined to score eight straight points for Boston, cutting the deficit to 72-70 with just under three minutes remaining.

However, Murray responded with back-to-back 3-pointers to help the Pistons regain control and avoid a four-game home losing streak.

"I had a lot of wide-open shots and down the stretch they fell down," said Murray, who made 8-of-18 shots, including 4-of-6 from the arc.

"Give him credit, he stepped up and made two big shots, the second one was with only two seconds on the (shot) clock," Boston coach Doc Rivers said.

Murray has been starting in the backcourt alongside Hamilton in place of All-Star guard Chauncey Billups, who missed his seventh straight game with a strained right calf.

"That wasn't a pretty game, but it was a good win," Murray said. "We grinded it out. That's what we've gotta do, find ways to grind games out."

A fifth-year veteran, Murray has reached double figures four times in since Billups went down.

"There were times I didn't want to take shots," Murray said. "But he (Hamilton) told me that if I'm open, I shouldn't turn them down."

"Overall, he did a nice job," Saunders said. "He was pretty aggressive with the ball, making plays. We put him in more of a scoring-type mode than an assist-type mode and he was probably a little more comfortable."

Green scored a career-high 24 points and Jefferson added 12 and a career-best 22 rebounds for Boston, which shot just 35 percent (29-of-81) from the floor and dropped their fourth straight game.

"I was really happy with the effort with all of the guys that were out," Rivers said. "One of the things we've talked about with the young guys - that's all we have - is that the all the little mistakes you make throughout the game add up at the end in a close game."

"Al was a force on the boards," Celtics forward Ryan Gomes said. "He held his own down there and made some good post moves and controlled the boards. That's what kept us in the game."

Injured Boston guard Tony Allen had successful surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left knee Saturday and will miss the remainder of the season.