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Billups, Pistons finally take down Bulls

Mar 10, 2008 - 4:10 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Chauncey Billups and the Detroit Pistons haven't had trouble with much this season. But it took them until Sunday to have success against the division rival Chicago Bulls.

Billups scored 30 of his season high-tying 34 points through three quarters as the Pistons posted a 116-109 victory over the Bulls at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Richard Hamilton scored 23 points and Tayshaun Prince added 21 for the Pistons (46-17), who are four games behind the idle Boston Celtics (49-12) for the best record in the East.

"This was a game that we looked to and said, 'You know, this team, they just dominate us, and we need to find a way to win against this team,'" Billups said. "I felt that we did a good job coming out and taking care of business."

"Their big three, they all scored over 20," Bulls guard Ben Gordon said. "Usually, when we have success against those guys, we usually limit it to one guy having a good game and slow the other guys down. They just did what they wanted."

Detroit and Boston - which defeated the Pistons, 90-78, last Wednesday to clinch the league's first playoff berth - are the only two teams to qualify for the NBA's second season.

In addition, Detroit secured its fourth win in its last give games despite the absence of starting center Rasheed Wallace, who has a sprained left ankle.

"(Prince) was great, Chauncey was great and so was Rip," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "Those three knew that, with 'Sheed out, they were going to have to step it up."

It also was the Pistons' first win this season against the Bulls, who won the first three meetings between the teams. Chicago made its run toward another win in the third quarter, twice cutting the lead to two points. Drew Gooden had six points in an 11-4 spurt, his first points of the game.

Gordon had nine points in the final 2:36 of the third to cut the lead to 81-78. The 35 points scored by Chicago were the most allowed in the third quarter by Detroit all season.

"We had a stretch there, as far as the third quarter, kind of let them back in there and just kind of played with that," Saunders said. "I thought that we had good play overall from a lot of different people."

The Bulls cut the Pistons' lead to 34-32 midway through the second quarter as Gordon scored seven in an 11-1 run. But Detroit responded with a 20-7 burst of its own, sparked by 10 points from Billups, including two 3-pointers.

"Until our defense picks up, it's going to be a struggle for us," Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan said. "I thought that we had so many breakdowns that they were just able to drive by us at will. It's kind of disappointing from that standpoint."

The Pistons took a 29-19 lead into the second quarter after Hamilton scored seven points in a 13-2 run.

Gordon scored 27 points for Chicago, which is 4-6 since it traded center Ben Wallace and forward Joe Smith to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Gooden and guard Larry Hughes.

"I feel like we're different but I feel like, at the same time with our style of play, there's no reason why we shouldn't have beat that team," said Bulls forward Joakim Noah, who scored 15 points. "I think Detroit's a great team but I still feel like we're better than them, really. I feel like we're a better team."

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