Pistons 105, Bulls 89

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CHICAGO (AP)—Larry Brown is used to having Ben Wallace and the Detroit Pistons dominate most opponents down low. Still, Brown was surprised by this.

Ben Wallace had 12 points and 17 rebounds as the Pistons controlled the boards in a 105-89 win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night—Detroit’s ninth straight victory.

Led by Wallace, Detroit finished with a 56-35 edge in rebounding. At halftime, Pistons had 15 offensive rebounds—the same number of total rebounds managed by Chicago.

“We really rebounded well tonight. After the first half, I looked at the stats and was shocked,” Brown said. “Ben was great the whole night. He’s getting better every night.”

Richard Hamilton scored 24 points, and Chauncey Billups added 17 points and seven assists. The Pistons own the longest current winning streak in the NBA, and it’s the best for Detroit in 12 seasons.

“Right now, we have swagger. You can see it in our team,” Wallace said. “We’re not panicking, we’re not rushing.”

The Bulls certainly gave Detroit little to worry about.

Detroit led by five late in the third quarter when Chucky Atkins came off the bench to spark the Pistons.

He made three 3-pointers during a 22-7 spurt that gave the Pistons an 88-66 lead. Atkins capped the rally with a long lob to Tayshaun Prince—who caught the ball, dunked it in stride and was fouled for a three-point play.

Chicago cut the deficit to seven with 4:12 to go on a jumper by Marcus Fizer, but couldn’t get any closer. Billups made a pair of free throws, and Wallace had a thunderous dunk to push the lead back to 11 and put the game away.

Wallace had 10 of his game-high 17 rebounds in the first quarter, including four offensive rebounds. He finished with six offensive rebounds.

“We just turned our heads and he ran right by us,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “It is distressing because part of our game plan was to keep him out of there.”

Kirk Hinrich had 19 points and 12 assists for the Bulls, who lost for the third time in four games.

The Bulls, whose only lead was 3-2, pulled within 64-59 in the third quarter on a pair of nice plays by Hinrich. The rookie guard found Antonio Davis down low for a dunk, then sank a 3-pointer in front of the Detroit bench to make it 64-59.

But a pair of free throws and Atkins’ first 3 of the game got the lead back to 73-63 at the end of the third quarter. Atkins finished with nine points.

The loss ruined Scottie Pippen’s return to the Bulls lineup after missing a month with a knee injury. Pippen, who had surgery on his left knee to repair a torn ligament, entered the game midway through the first quarter to a loud ovation.

The Bulls couldn’t capitalize on the emotional lift. Chicago trailed 18-13 when Pippen entered the game, but quickly fell behind by 11 on putback and finger roll by Wallace.

Pippen didn’t score and was 0-for-4 with three assists in 12 minutes.

Pippen said the knee was fine after the game, which was more than he could say for Chicago’s performance.

“It felt great, but unfortunately we were behind from the beginning,” Pippen said. “We didn’t bring what was needed. It’s hard to make a run whenyou are inconsistent.”

Notes

Detroit has was 27 in a row when scoring over 100 points. … The Pistons have defeated the Bulls seven straight times. They also have won seven in a row in Chicago. … Chicago placed Chris Jefferies on the injured list to make room for Pippen. Jefferies was acquired from Toronto in a trade on Dec. 1 and is averaging 2.5 points in 12 games. … Prince tied a career high with seven assists. … Chicago committed seven turnovers, a season low. … Eddy Curry, hounded recently by fans, was booed loudly when Corliss Williamson blocked the 7-footer’s dunk attempt in the first half. Curry finished with twopoints in 14 minutes.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Detroit
R. Hamilton R. Hamilton
8-19,  24 Pts
7 Rebs, 5 Assists
 Chicago
K. Hinrich K. Hinrich
7-10,  19 Pts
1 Rebs, 12 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists