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Billups, Pistons hand Grizzlies fifth straight loss

Dec 12, 2007 - 6:27 AM By Shawn Pachucki PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- The Detroit Pistons jumped out early and held on late to hand the Memphis Grizzlies their fifth straight loss, 113-103, on Tuesday.

Chauncey Billups scored 28 points and dished out 14 assists and Richard Hamilton added 27 points for the Pistons, who have won seven of their last eight games and four straight away from home.

Billups caught fire early, scoring 18 points in the first half as Detroit jumped out to a 61-48 lead at the half, while Hamilton scored 16 over the final 24 minutes.

Hamilton's jumper with 7:32 to play gave the Pistons a 100-82 lead, but Pau Gasol's three-point play capped a 16-7 run and pulled the Grizzlies back into the game.

After Rasheed Wallace answered with an 18-foot fadeaway and followed a free throw by Kyle Lowry with a pair of his own a minute later, Billups hit three straight from the line to ice the game with 23 seconds to go.

"We came out and wanted to be aggressive. We knew they liked to run and gun, and as you see, if you let them get confidence, they can be very dangerous. We let them do that in the fourth," said Billups, who is averaging nearly 25.0 points and 9.0 assists in Detroit's last three games. "But, basically, we came in and were able to have our way, and offensively we got a lot going."

After Memphis went on a 12-3 run to cut Detroit's lead to 80-69, Hamilton buried a 16-foot jumper with 2:13 left in the third quarter, then drilled another from 23 feet 50 seconds later - helping push the Pistons to a 16-point advantage heading into the fourth.

"We just knew we had to come out and be aggressive with this team tonight, and I think we were able to do that," Hamilton said.

Hamilton, who finished 11-of-15 from the field, also came up big on the defensive end chasing Grizzlies sharpshooter Mike Miller all over the court and holding him to just five points on 1-of-4 shooting.

"We've talked a lot about the offense and trying to exploit other teams' weaknesses at their defensive end. On the contrary, we do a lot defensively to try and take away teams' offensive threats," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "If we can do that, we feel like we're going to have a pretty good chance to get shots."

Detroit closed the first quarter on a 10-0 run to push the lead to 37-22 at the end of one.

Billups hit his fifth consecutive shot on the Pistons' first possession of the second, starting an 8-2 spurt that led to a 43-24 advantage less than three minutes into the period.

Detroit's lead ballooned to 24 points midway through the second.

The Grizzlies' reserve guard duo of Lowry and Juan Carlos Navarro combined for 18 points in the second, including 11 over the final 4:44 when Memphis trimmed its deficit to 13 entering the break.

"I like the way our guys hung in there," Grizzlies coach Mark Iavaroni said. "We got the lead down, and then we made some costly mistakes with transition defense. I think we got a good grade in persistence but not a good grade in consistency."

Memphis (6-15) finished just under 47 percent from the field and was outscored, 19-4, in fast-break points.

"We have to get back on our principles, getting back on defense every time no matter what," said Rudy Gay, who led the Grizzlies with 20 points, 16 of which came in the second half. "Saying we're a young team is getting old fast. We have to gel fast and start getting better."

Gasol and Lowry added 18 apiece for the Grizzlies, who dropped their fifth straight game.

The Pistons (15-6) shot 51 percent from the field and recorded 29 assists on 41 made field goals.

Forward Tayshaun Prince snapped out of a three-game funk in which he was averaging just 6.0 points, scoring 19 to go with seven rebounds.

Starting for Wallace, who was suffering from flu-like symptoms prior to the game, forward Jason Maxiell posted 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting for the Pistons, who shot 51 percent (41-of-81) and recorded 29 assists.

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