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Hamilton's 24 points help Pistons cruise past Nuggets

Mar 19, 2008 - 5:24 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Richard Hamilton and the Detroit Pistons gave the Denver Nuggets a taste of their own medicine.

Hamilton scored 12 of his 24 points in the first quarter as Detroit continued its domination of Denver, 136-120, on Tuesday.

Reserves Jason Maxiell, Jarvis Hayes and Rodney Stuckey combined for 46 points for the Pistons, who reached their season high in points and now have won four straight against the Nuggets.

"We went out and played San Antonio last Friday, a grind-it-out type game," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "This game was a little bit different. That's the thing, we don't have to play one style. We're not afraid to get out and run.

"Tonight we had 42 assists. That's a lot. It's not like we're a one-dimensional team."

Marcus Camby had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Kenyon Martin scored 16 for Denver, which had won its three previous games by an average margin of 35.3 points.

Included in that streak was a 168-point effort in a 52-point beat down of Seattle on Sunday - the highest scoring mark by any team in the NBA this season.

"If you had told me that we'd shoot close to 60 percent and score 120 points against the Detroit Pistons, I'd be pretty happy," Nuggets coach George Karl said.

Detroit (49-18), which has won three straight, is now one victory away from its seventh straight 50-win season.

It's no surprise that the Pistons handled the Nuggets so easily, having now won 12 in a row vs. Denver at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The average margin in those games is nearly 19.0 points per game.

Hamilton went to work early, connecting on 5-of-8 from the floor, including two 3-pointers to give Detroit a 34-25 advantage after the first period.

"We had to take control of our home court," Hamilton said. "And I think we did an excellent job of coming out and taking care of business."

The Pistons' reserves, who combined for five points in the first, did a number on the Nuggets in the second to the tune of 31 points, helping Detroit to a 73-51 advantage at intermission.

"The (reserves) are playing as good as they've played all year," said Chauncey Billups, who had 14 points and 10 assists. "Really, I'm not even exaggerating when I say this, they're playing better than a lot of people's starting fives around the league. They're playing great right now."

Maxiell, Hayes and Stuckey finished with 18, 17 and 11, respectively, for the Pistons, whose halftime total was the most they've tallied before the break this season.

"We just didn't play well at all in the first half," Nuggets guard Allen Iverson said. "Against a team like that, you can't dig yourself a hole."

Maxiell likes the way his team is playing with the playoffs right around the corner.

"It's just a good vibe going around the locker room with the postseason coming up," Maxiell said. "You get the mojo back. It's a great feeling right now."

Tayshaun Prince had 13 points and nine assists and Rasheed Wallace scored 21 for Detroit, which shot 60 percent (55-of-91) and had a season-high 42 assists. The Pistons connected on 12-of-20 from 3-point range while their reserves outscored the Nuggets's bench, 56-37.

"We've been shooting good, man," Billups said. "When you can open up leads like that, every shot is either uncontested or it's just a good look because the defense is scrambling, running around all over the place. It leaves a lot of great shooters open."

All-Stars Carmelo Anthony and Iverson, who each had just four points at halftime, combined for 25 points in the third quarter to cut Denver's deficit to 100-89 entering the final period.

But the Pistons easily kept their double-digit margin throughout the fourth to finish their five-game homestand at 4-1.

Anthony finished with 27 points and Iverson had 20 and 11 assists for the Nuggets (40-27), who shot 56 percent (43-of-76) and remained 1 1/2 games behind the Golden State Warriors (41-25) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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