Billups, a 92 percent foul shooter, missed a pair with seven seconds left.
“They both felt great when they left my hand—it was crazy,” he said. “We had every chance in the world to win this game and we let it slip away.”
“We had a great play drawn up that we practiced in shootaround,” Davis said. “When I came off the pick, I saw Ben leaning and I knew I had to get to the hole. There were no jumpers being shot—I was missing those all night. I had to get to the hole.”
Jamaal Magloire led New Orleans with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Davis had 18 points.
Hamilton left the arena at halftime for precautionary x-rays, which came back negative, after straining his neck late in the second quarter. Hamilton was fouled by Davis while making a layup, landed awkwardly and stayed down for several minutes. He remained in the game, made the free throw and played the final 50 seconds of the half.
Detroit was already without starting center Elden Campbell because of a family illness.
“It was tough, because they have great size, and we were already missing Elden, then we lose a scorer like Rip,” Pistons coach Larry Brown said. “But we still had the game, and we let it get away.”
The game was tied at 78 with two minutes left, but Sura’s jumper and a shot-clock violation on New Orleans gave Detroit a chance to put the game away.
The Pistons missed three straight shots but got all three rebounds—two by Wallace. Billups, though, turned the ball over with 15 seconds left and David Wesley drew a foul.
Wesley missed the first free throw with 8.2 seconds left and made the second to narrow the gap to 80-79.
New Orleans then fouled Billups, who had missed only eight free throws in 104 attempts. Brown rebounded the second miss and the Hornets called timeout to set up the game-winning play.
The Pistons led early, but New Orleans switched to a zone defense and went on a 29-6 run that included 13 points from Davis. That gave the Hornets a 38-25 lead, but Detroit finished the half with a 19-4 surge to lead 44-42 at the half. Hamilton had seven points in the run.
The teams traded the lead throughout the third, and the score was tied at 60 heading into the fourth quarter. The Pistons took a 78-71 lead with 3:24 toplay, but New Orleans scored the next seven points.
The night’s biggest ovation came when longtime Pistons season-ticket holder Bob Seger was honored for his recent election to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. … Detroit guard Lindsey Hunter injured his knee early in the second quarter, but returned in the third quarter. Brown said that he does not expect Campbell, Hamilton or Hunter to play Monday in Atlanta, although Hunter said he plans to be available. … Tayshaun Prince had a career-high four blockedshots.