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Billups, Prince help Pistons edge Hawks again

Dec 15, 2007 - 6:14 AM By Chuck Klonke PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) - Tayshaun Prince gave the Detroit Pistons a lift on both ends of the court Friday.

With a double-digit lead slipping away in the third quarter, Prince brought his defense and offense to help the Pistons post a 91-81 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

It was Detroit's third consecutive triumph over Atlanta, which hasn't won in "Motown" since an 88-72 victory on December 10, 2004 - a span of seven straight trips.

"It's always tough to play a team three times early, and the last time you played them you beat them pretty good," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We were hurting a little bit as far as energy at some points but (Antonio McDyess) had a great game, and I thought Tay played well. We got a win. That's what's important right now."

Chauncey Billups scored 23 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, and Prince collected 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons.

Joe Johnson led Atlanta's attack with 23 points despite the stellar defensive pressure by Prince.

"We played great defense," Prince said. "We had to because we had a lot of turnovers coming out of the half. We weren't getting into our offense."

Atlanta took a run at the Detroit in the third, cutting its 14-point halftime deficit to 52-49 with six minutes left after a steal and layup by Anthony Johnson.

After two missed two free throws by Johnson that would have cut the lead to a single point, Jason Maxiell scored a basket and made a pair from the line to put Detroit ahead 56-51.

The Pistons finished the quarter with an 8-0 spurt, which was capped by Prince's 3-pointer that forged a 64-53 edge heading into the final quarter.

Prince gave veteran backup guard Lindsey Hunter credit for the late run in the third quarter.

"Lindsey came into the game and he always brings energy and pushes the ball down the floor," Prince said. "Atlanta went small, so Lindsey looked for me in the post."

The Hawks never got closer than seven points in the fourth quarter.

"I think we lost the game in the first half," Johnson said. "We came out sluggish and slow. In the second half, we picked it up and got back in the game. Then at the end of the third quarter, coach subbed, (the Pistons) went back up by 11 and we never recovered. That was tough going into the fourth down 11 because we spent so much energy getting back into it."

Hawks coach Mike Woodson said that he felt his starters were getting tired when he made the substitutions with two minutes left in the third quarter.

"Our bench was a little lackluster," Woodson said. "It's been pretty solid all year."

Detroit's reserves outscored the Hawks' bench, 24-15.

Richard Hamilton scored 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter and Maxiell contributed 10 and eight boards off the bench as Detroit captured its eighth win in 10 tries.

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