for this game

Prince, Pistons overcome poor shooting to edge Sonics

Mar 5, 2008 - 5:10 AM By Crystal Krauskoff PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) - The Detroit Pistons might have been looking ahead in this one.

Tayshaun Prince scored 24 points to help the Pistons squeeze out a 100-97 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Tuesday night at the Palace of Auburn of Hills.

With Wednesday's highly important Eastern Conference battle at Boston perhaps looming in their heads, the Pistons' resiliency was pushed to its limit by one of the worst road teams in the league.

"It was a tough game mentally to keep going and facing a team that you feel like you're better than and they come out and jump on you," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "Probably, the best thing to happen is they come out and jump on us and make us really play, as opposed to us jumping on them and, at some point, probably letting our guard down in a game like this knowing that you're coming off the West Coast.

"You're looking forward to (Wednesday) playing another elite team. This was a good win for us."

A three-time All-Star, Billups hit a 3-pointer with 6:14 left in the game to give Detroit an 88-80 edge. It proved to be just enough to keep the Sonics off balanced for the duration.

Later in the fourth, Amir Johnson weaved his way through traffic to make a tough layup with 31 seconds left which gave Detroit a 98-94 edge.

Being on the floor at that point with the game on the line proved to be a new test for the third-year forward.

"It just wanted to stick in there and finish off the game," said Johnson, who had eight boards and two blocks off the bench. "I'm glad I stayed in there to help the team win."

Billups finished with 20 points and nine assists and Richard Hamilton added 18 points for the Pistons, who shot just 38 percent (30-of-79) from the floor and had to withstand an impressive first quarter from Seattle.

The Sonics were on fire in the opening period as they shot an eye-popping 18-of-22 from the field en route to a season-high, 41-point performance in the quarter. Earl Watson scored 12 of his 23 points in the period as the Sonics held 41-28 lead.

"They shot it well and we had some mental breakdowns defensively," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said.

But then Michigan's frigid temperature made its way indoors, as the Sonics misfired on their first 13 shots which produced one lone point in seven minutes. Detroit took advantage of Seattle's sluggishness by pulling within 54-53 at halftime.

"We fought hard in the first quarter," Seattle forward Chris Wilcox said. "For us to come back in the second quarter, and let them do to us what we did to them in the first, is tough. A one-point game at the half, and it's a brand new ballgame."

Wilcox collected 20 points and 10 rebounds and rookie Kevin Durant also netted 20 for Seattle, which was held to just 13 points in the second.