Pistons 100, Clippers 88

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Detroit Pistons opened their season-high five-game road trip with another impressive victory.

Chauncey Billups scored 28 points and Richard Hamilton added eight of his 21 points in the last seven minutes, leading the Pistons to a 100-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

Detroit had to overcome a 12-point deficit, the poor shooting of Rasheed Wallace, a short fuse by the officials and Larry Brown’s first ejection of the season.

“This was a great win for us,” Billups said. “There was a lot of adversity we overcame today. I’m happy and proud of our guys. We knew we had to stay poised, keep within striking distance and take it from them. They weren’t going to give it to us.”

Hamilton played his second game since breaking his nose when he was elbowed by Chicago’s Marcus Fizer on Wednesday. He is scheduled to have surgery on Tuesday after playing Monday night at Utah.

Ben Wallace recorded his 30th double-double of the season. He finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Pistons, who have won four straight after losing eight of nine.

Elton Brand had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Quentin Richardson added 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers, who have lost eight of 11.

The Pistons went on a 20-3 run and turned a 70-61 deficit into an 81-73 lead with 6:55 remaining. Billups capped the comeback with 10:26 left in the fourth quarter, hitting a 3-pointer to give the Pistons a 76-73 lead—their first since the opening period.

“We were playing physical in the first half, but their intensity stepped up and we played soft,” Brand said. “We didn’t protect the ball and they went on the break. I could think of many times when Billups, Ben Wallace and even Tayshaun Prince went in for layups. That hurt us a lot. We didn’t have the intensity that we needed because we had a lot of turnovers late in the game.”

Rasheed Wallace followed Billups’ 3 with one of his own, then and added a 12-footer for an 83-75 lead. Hamilton made a 17-foot bank shot, a dunk and two free throws during a 63-second span to increase the margin to 93-79 with 2:55 left.

Wallace scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter after shooting 1-for-12 in the first three quarters. He finished 5-for-17 and had 10 rebounds.

“We were looking for him and drawing up plays to get him going,” Billups said. “We knew that it was just a matter of time before he was going to make shots, and he got it going for us.”

Wallace, whose wife is in Portland and close to giving birth to the couple’s fourth child, was in an uncharacteristically jovial mood early in the game— joking with Brand and Corey Maggette during one play stoppage. But that didn’t last long.

His familiar scowl returned with 3:33 left in the first quarter, when he received a technical foul from Bill Spooner for complaining that Brand made contact with him while blocking his 15-foot jumper. Brown received a technical foul from Ron Garretson moments after picking up Wallace’s argument.

Then with 16 seconds left in the quarter, Spooner called a technical against Hamilton for complaining about a foul that wasn’t called. Brown yelled at Spooner from the other end of the court and was hit with his second technical.

Brown started walking down the sideline toward the wrong exit, then made a bee-line toward Spooner and had to be restrained by Rasheed Wallace and Corliss Williamson before departing through the correct exit. Assistant coach Mike Woodson ran the club the rest of the way.

“You hate to see your main guy get tossed, but that’s what we’re there for as assistant coaches,” said Woodson, who played two seasons for the Clippers. “This is eight years for me, and this is what I worked for—to get my opportunity. You just hope it goes your way when you’re thrown out there.”

Maggette converted all four technical free throws as the Clippers finished the opening quarter with a 13-4 run and a 33-24 lead.

Notes

Hamilton missed a week of the exhibition season because of a broken nose. He also had his nose broken in 2001 while playing for Washington. … Rasheed Wallace entered Staples Center wearing a red Montreal Canadiens jersey with NHL Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur’s No. 10 on the back. … The Pistons are 3-5 when they’ve played on Feb. 29. … Detroit is 27-2 when scoring at least90 points, and 12-1 when they reach 100.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Detroit
C. Billups C. Billups
7-11,  28 Pts
4 Rebs, 7 Assists
 LA Clippers
E. Brand E. Brand
12-23,  26 Pts
10 Rebs, 4 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists