Pistons continue rampage through Eastern ConferenceDec 5, 2007 - 4:22 AM By Phil Foley PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
ATLANTA (Ticker) - Tayshaun Prince led seven Detroit players in double-figures with 23 points and Chauncey Billups recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists to lead the Pistons to a 106-95 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.
Detroit has been on fire of late, blistering Eastern Conference foes Cleveland, Milwaukee and New Jersey by an average of 28 points and posting an average of 115 points in each of its last three games.
Atlanta fought the Pistons tough for the first 25 minutes of the contest, cutting the lead to five with Josh Smith's layup with 11:02 remaining in the third quarter.
But from there, the Pistons put into overdrive, scoring 30 of the next 39 points to take a commanding 87-61 advantage through three quarters.
"We think they broke us down defensively in the first half, which gave them some easy looks," Billups said. "In the second half, we got back to our normal defensive set, and that's when you saw the game get blown wide open."
Detroit could not miss in the third, connecting on 79-percent (11-for-14) of their shots from the field. The Pistons also hit both of their 3-pointers and connected on all six free throws in the quarter.
"They were able to make defensive stops and get out and push the ball and get easy points," Smith said. "They got a ton of layups in the third quarter. They knocked down all their jumpshots and they made it hard for us to score the ball in the third quarter."
Prince lead the Piston's assault, connecting on all four of his shots from the field en route to scoring 11 points in the quarter.
"We got to the rim on some plays and got some easy baskets," Prince said. "That lit the fire for our jump shots to fall. Luckily for us, things went right in the second half, which is why we came out on top."
Ironically, as the Hawks defense looked like it was frozen on the court, the Philips Arena scoreboard broke down as well, as the score on the jumbotron remained frozen at 73-57 for the duration of the third quarter.
The scoreboard was not fixed until almost three minutes into the fourth quarter. By that time, the rout was on.
The Pistons scored 18 of the 27 points during the scoreboard outage to take a 91-66 lead. Atlanta cut the lead to 11 in the final seconds, but it was too little, too late.
"They're a physical team," Atlanta guard Joe Johnson said. "They played us physical the whole game. When they hit us, we never really hit back."
Prince and Billups were not the only ones coming up big for the Pistons. Detroit, which placed six players in double figures in their last contest, did one better in this one.
Former University of Georgia standout Jarvis Hayes had a season-high 17 points, Richard Hamilton added 14, Jason Maxiell scored 13, Rasheed Wallace added 11 and Antonio McDyess 10 for the red-hot Pistons, who have won four straight.
"Everyone is playing so well, they have to play us one-on-one," Prince said. "It kind of gives us the shots we want."
Detroit got out to a blistering start, shooting 65-percent (13-for-20) in the first quarter en route to building a 33-26 lead.
"It was important for us to get off to a fast start tonight and shooting the ball well early really helped us to that," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "Even though the game was close early, it helped us get into a rhythm, so we could finish off the game strong in the first half."
Atlanta scored the first five points of the second quarter to whittle Detroit's advantage to two. Acie Law IV scored all five points during the run, including a layup 48 seconds into the quarter to cut the advantage to 33-31.
The Hawks, who have lost 30 of their last 40 to the Pistons, could not get any closer. Atlanta had a chance to tie the game after Josh Childress connected on a 3-pointer with 3:47 remaining in the second quarter and Richard Hamilton missed from the arc.
But Johnson missed an easy layup before Detroit rattled off seven of the next nine points to take a 57-48 advantage into the intermission.
The blown layup typified a miserable night for Johnson, who double-teamed all night. The 2006 All-Star scored just five points on 2-for-10 shooting to finish outside double-digits for the first time this season. It was Johnson's lowest scoring output since he tallied five points in a 98-87 loss against the Memphis Grizzlies on April 2, 2006.
"I give them credit," Johnson said. "It's tough fighting a double-team. I just wasn't hitting (my shots). It was just a tough night. It happens sometimes."
"Our main core guys didn't have it tonight," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "There are nights like that in the NBA. I just hope we don't have many more nights like that."
Josh Childress scored a team-high 18 points for the Hawks, who lost for the third time in five games.
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