Less than two months after a lopsided home loss to the hapless Hawks, the Pistons fell behind early again, but rallied to rout Atlanta 99-84 on Wednesday night.
“The start reminded me a lot of the last time,” Pistons coach Larry Brown said. “This time, we finished things a little better.”
Chauncey Billups scored 27 points to help the Pistons to their fifth straight victory.
“We struggled at the start, but once we got warmed up, it turned the game around,” he said. “We took control and kept control.”
Billups had 28 in Detroit’s victory Tuesday night in Washington.
“This team makes that easy,” he said. “When someone gets going, everyone feeds them.”
The NBA Finals MVP only scored eight points in the teams’ first meeting in Detroit, the Hawks’ 88-72 victory on Dec. 10.
“Last time we played here, Chauncey struggled,” said Atlanta coach Mike Woodson, an assistant to Brown on last year’s title team. “Tonight he made it a point to come out and really establish himself.”
“It all starts with solid defense,” Wallace said. “When we got rolling on defense, everyone gets involved on offense.”
“We beat ourselves tonight,” Walker said. “We had so many opportunities where we did not score the basketball, and it is tough to try and beat a team like Detroit like that.”
Atlanta led for most of the first half, but the defending NBA champion Pistons scored the last 17 points to take a 49-40 lead. The Hawks didn’t score in the final 6:32 of the half.
“They turned the defense up and took away what we were doing,” Tyronn Lue said. “We thought we had the game under control, but it’s hard to score against that half-court defense. That’s what they do best.”
Billups had 10 points and Prince added five during the run.
“Chauncey was terrific, but we had a lot of guys doing good things,” Brown said. “We started defending better in the second quarter, and we were able to get out and run. That’s something that I’ve wanted to do since I got here—I can’t imagine any team has three more athletic big guys than Antonio and the Wallaces.”
Detroit continued to pull away through most of the third, leading by as many as 17 and taking a 71-57 edge into the final period. Atlanta was never able to get the margin back to single digits in the fourth.
The Hawks placed Josh Smith (ankle) on the injured list before the game and activated Donta Smith. … The Pistons didn’t commit their first foul until the final 3 seconds of the opening quarter. … Detroit’s Rasheed Wallace and Atlanta coach Mike Woodson both picked up technicals for arguing calls. … Detroit’s Darko Milicic played the final 4 minutes, but did not score.