Originally created 11/25/03

Pistons edge Hawks



ATLANTA -- Chauncey Billups never doubted his ability to win a game at the free-throw line, so he drove the baseline to draw a blocking foul on Jacque Vaughn.

"To be able to come down to that situation was great," Billups said. "You all know me better than anybody I'm going to step up, make sure I get fouled, you know what I mean? Just to make a point like that."

Billups redeemed himself by hitting four straight free throws in the final 18.3 seconds to help the Detroit Pistons beat Atlanta 94-89 on Monday night.

On Sunday night, he missed two foul shots with seven seconds remaining in Detroit's 81-80 home loss to New Orleans.

The Hawks led 89-88 when Billups took an inbound pass and drove the left side of the baseline. As he collided with Vaughn, Billups simply cradled the ball as they fell to the floor and referee Dan Crawford called the blocking foul.

"I thought the team was trying to get me the ball, get me on the line," said Billups, who scored a team-high 24 points despite shooting only 7-for-23 from the floor. "They got the utmost amount of respect for me, and I felt that. I love that."

The Pistons, winning for the fifth time in six games, trailed by 16 points following Shareef Abdur-Rahim's 12-footer with 5:46 left in the third quarter. Detroit answered with a 24-4 run, capped by Billups' 14-footer from the right wing with 7:14 remaining.

Of the 23 points Atlanta allowed off 21 turnovers, 15 came in the second half with the worst mistake occurring on Stephen Jackson's inbound lob pass that went out of bounds with 15 seconds remaining.

"We fight, we play hard and we let it go at the end," Jackson said. "We can't do that. We're not a team who's won the Eastern Conference or won the championship. We've got to win games like this. There ain't no excuses."

Pistons coach Larry Brown got the upper hand by using the Hawks' 20-second timeout to have center Ben Wallace prevent Abdur-Rahim from breaking for the ball. Jackson essentially passed the ball to nobody.

"That's the best win of the year in my mind because we did the things it takes to get back in the game," Brown said. "Effort and defense and rebounding. We had some terrible things happen again and we just gutted it out."

Abdur-Rahim led the Hawks, who have lost four of six, with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Jason Terry added 26.

Tayshaun Prince scored 22 points for Detroit, and Ben Wallace had 15 rebounds.

Atlanta's last lead came with 18.3 seconds remaining when Terry stole Darvin Ham's pass at midcourt and drove for a layup to make it 89-88. Terry's 3-point attempt with 5.5 to go fell short.

"We're going to have to learn how to win close ones," Terry said. "We're right there, knocking on the door. If we'd gotten one rebound and one stop at the right time, we would have won that game."

The Pistons closed with two free throws by Billups, two by Prince and two more by Billups.

"I'm happy for Chauncey," Brown said. "You know, he was pretty down, comes up and makes four big free throws and plays great. Really gave us a lift."

Notes: Detroit is 16-3 in its last 19 games against Atlanta, including wins in four straight. ... Pistons guard Richard Hamilton did not make the trip to Atlanta after straining his neck Sunday night against New Orleans. ... Dion Glover was 5-for-7 shooting in the first half, 0-for-5 in the second. ... Of Detroit's 26 second-half rebounds, 13 were offensive with Wallace getting six. Of Atlanta's 21 second-half rebounds, only seven were offensive.



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