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Billups comes up big late as Pistons hold off Hawks

Nov 5, 2007 - 5:48 AM By Chuck Klonke PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- The Detroit Pistons weren't going to become the second straight NBA heavyweight to fall victim to the Atlanta Hawks.

Chauncey Billups scored 22 points, leading the Pistons to a hard-fought, 92-91, victory over the Hawks Sunday night.

Atlanta, which defeated the Dallas Mavericks, 101-94, on Friday, held a 69-60 advantage over Detroit after three quarters and held a five-point lead after Tyronn Lue hit a jumper with 7:35 remaining to give the Hawks a 77-72 lead.

After Jarvis Hayes answered with a layup two possessions later, Billups scored six points during a 16-4 run over the next 5:31 to turn the five-point deficit into a 88-81 advantage.

But the Hawks refused to fold, going on a 7-1 run over the next 90 seconds to move to within 89-88, capped by a 3-pointer by Joe Johnson. Billups hit two free throws with 16 seconds remaining to extend the lead to 91-88.

Billups gave credit to the Pistons' bench players for helping the club get back into the game.

"They regained control of the game for us," Billups said. "(Jason) Maxiell and Flip (Murray) made plays and Jarvis hit a couple of big shots down the stretch. Then we were able to come back in and get the win."

The Hawks' Josh Smith was able to draw a foul on Rasheed Wallace on the ensuing possession on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws to knot the game at 91-91 with seven seconds left in the contest.

After Detroit called a 20-second timeout, Billups was able to drive the lane and draw a foul on Atlanta's Marvin Williams with 1.9 seconds remaining. He hit the first attempt and missed the second, leading to a desperation half-court heave by Smith that was well off.

Atlanta coach Mike Woodson wasn't pleased with the call by referee Kevin Fehr.

"I didn't think Kevin had a good look because it seemed like he was blocked, but he made the call, we have to live with it and try to build on it," Woodson said. "I thought our guys gave a great effort tonight. We just came up on the short end."

Johnson scored 23 points and Williams added 22 for the Hawks, who 45 percent (33-of-72) and committed 19 turnovers.

Six turnovers in the fourth quarter hurt the Hawks.

"That was a huge difference maker," Woodson said. "The fourth quarter turnovers came at critical times. When you're in a back-and-forth game like that, you have to at least get shots."

Johnson agreed.

"It's a tough loss because we fought so hard," he said. "We were up by nine after three quarters but they turned up the pressure and got back in the game.

"We have to protect the ball a little better than we did tonight, especially in crunch time. I thought we were really careless with the ball and had key mistakes that pretty much cost us the game."

After missing the first two game to attend the birth of his first child, Pistons guard Richard Hamilton scored 14 of his 22 points in the first half.

"I was a little over-excited," Hamilton said. "The one thing I wanted to do was get some easy baskets to get the motor going, and the guys got me the ball in a position to get some easy ones."

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