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Billups, Hamilton lead Pistons to blowout win vs. Bulls

May 6, 2007 - 3:40 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Chauncey Billups and the Detroit Pistons wanted the Chicago Bulls to know they were in a whole new ballgame.

Billups scored 20 points and Richard Hamilton also had 20 as the Pistons posted a 95-69 blowout victory over the Bulls in Game One of their Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series on Saturday.

Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince each had 13 points and Jason Maxiell added 12 off the bench for Detroit, which improved to 11-0 in Eastern Conference semifinal openers dating to 1986-87.

"It was important for us to set the tone," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We were aggressive offensively and defensively. We did what we were supposed to do."

The 69 points by Chicago was the fewest its ever scored in a playoff game. The Bulls' previous low was a 72-point effort against Golden State on May 11, 1975.

"The last couple of days, our preparation has been poor," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "I didn't know if they were bored from the last week or if we thought it was going to be easy. Given tonight, it was apparently the latter."

The Pistons, who led by six after the first quarter and 13 at the end of both the second and third periods, controlled the game after several first-half bursts and the Bulls were never able to recover.

"You never anticipate beating a team, especially a really good team, like that," Billups said. "We had it going. We may not beat them that handily another time in the series, but for tonight we played good."

Chicago, which swept the Miami Heat in four games in an Eastern Conference first-round matchup, also suffered its largest playoff margin of defeat since being beaten by the Cleveland Cavaliers, 107-81, in Game Two of the 1992 conference finals.

"Our energy was up," Prince said. "We just talked about coming out with a lot of energy and I thought we did that. We just read each other and were on the chain tonight defensively."

"We're just playing, man," Wallace said. "We don't care if we blow somebody out or we win by one. A W is a W."

Three-pointers by Wallace, Hamilton and Prince vaulted Detroit to a 79-57 bulge with 10:03 remaining to give their club a comfortable lead.

Billups connected on 7-of-14 from the floor for the Pistons, who also shot 8-of-18 from 3-point range.

"Chauncey definitely set the tone," Hamilton said. "This wasn't a game where he could sit back and wait to see how they guarded him."

Detroit's margin of victory over the Bulls is the largest by the Pistons in the playoff history of these two teams. The previous high was a 22-point decision by Detroit, which beat Chicago, 101-79, in Game Three of the 1988 Eastern semifinals.

Detroit capped an 11-2 spurt with a 3-pointer by Wallace to take a 20-11 lead at the 5:21 mark in the first period. A basket by Ben Wallace and subsequent free throws with 49 seconds left helped the Bulls cut the lead to 29-23 at the end of the quarter.

The Pistons raced to a 12-point lead early in the second, culminated by a 10-foot jumper by Antonio McDyess from the right corner at the 4:50 mark.

"We're surprised," Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich said. "We knew we were going to have to weather a storm tonight, but we just didn't handle it. We didn't play well enough to win."

After the Bulls cut their deficit to nine on a layup by Hinrich, Detroit extended the lead to 16 on three baskets by Hamilton and a dunk by Carlos Delfino with 6:03 remaining.

"We didn't have intensity," said Bulls forward Luol Deng, who led Chicago with 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting. "The way that we started that game was not with a lot of energy. The Pistons came out poised, got quick fouls on us and were more aggressive than we were."

A 3-pointer by Billups with 55 seconds left in the half gave the Pistons a 54-41 halftime lead.

"We were fortunate to have Chauncey kind of get us going early and that kind of got us off to a good start," Prince added.

Hinrich finished with 15 points but Ben Gordon, who was the second-leading postseason scorer (25.5 points) for the Bulls entering this contest, added only seven on 2-of-9 from the floor for Chicago, which shot just 33 percent (23-of-70).

"You have to make him (Gordon) work on both ends of the court, you can't let him relax, you can't let him rest," Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter said. "Chauncey did a great job of doing that."

Ben Wallace, the ex-Pistons center, had nine points and eight rebounds for Chicago, which was outrebounded, 46-38, and turned the ball over 21 times to just 15 for Detroit.

"They were the aggressor all night long," Skiles said. "That was a great pro effort, and they deserved to win. We were a half-step slow and we were out of position. You won't beat the Pistons once playing like that."

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