Milicic scored six points—more than doubling his season total—and Yao had four in Detroit’s 85-66 win over the Rockets on Wednesday night.
“I feel a lot better after getting in and getting a chance to play,” said Milicic, the second pick in the draft, who had scored five points in 11 games. “Yao is a good player, but maybe this was not his day.”
Richard Hamilton scored 16 points to lead the Pistons to their seventh straight win—their longest winning streak in nearly 12 years—and the longest current streak in the league. Detroit has won five straight against Western Conference teams.
“We’re really starting to play with a swagger,” Hamilton said.
In a matchup of two of the NBA’s top defensive teams, Houston had its lowest point total of the season and tied the mark for the fewest points scored in franchise history. Detroit extended its NBA record of holding teams under 100 points to 38 straight games.
“This was a lack of intensity,” Houston’s Steve Francis said. “A couple guys played hard, but that won’t do it. You need eight or nine guys—your whole rotation—to play hard. I don’t think they did anything to take us out of this game. We did that to ourselves.”
Francis and Jim Jackson each scored 15.
The lopsided game was given some life when Milicic came into the game with 5:54 left, after the crowd had been chanting “Dar-ko! Dar-ko!” for several minutes. The fans rose to their feet when the rookie—with a new blond hairdo—stepped onto the floor.
Milicic dunked twice and scored on a drop-step layup for his season-high point total. He also grabbed a season-high three rebounds, and blocked a shot in six minutes, which tied his longest stint of the season.
“I don’t know where I can play him. He’s doing fine,” Pistons coach Larry Brown said. “I’m dying to play him, but I’ve got Elden (Campbell), Memo (Okur), Ben (Wallace), Darvin (Ham) and Corliss (Williamson).
“It’ll all shake out because in practice, I can see him getting better and better every day.”
Yao, the first pick in the 2002 draft, scored the first two baskets of the game, then was held scoreless in a lackluster 22-minute effort. Yao, who was 2-of-5 with five rebounds and four turnovers, played just five minutes in the second half.
“I played players that I thought deserved to play,” Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
Yao had 22 points and 20 rebounds—his first 20-20 game—in Houston’s 86-80 win against Detroit on Dec. 6.
“They changed the way I was able to attack the basket by having (Mehmet) Okur, then Campbell come hard at me,” Yao said through an interpreter. “I just didn’t play well. I got too hesitant.”
Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Wallace, the reigning NBA player of the week, had nine points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.
The Rockets, who had won three straight, had a chance to be the first NBA team to hold three straight opponents to less than 70 points, according to theElias Sports Bureau.
The Pistons last won seven straight March 2-14, 1992. … Faces in the crowd included USC running back LenDale White, a cousin of Pistons guard Chauncey Billups, Michigan football players Chris Perry and Larry Stevens, andLions cornerback Dre’ Bly.