ATLANTA (AP)—Darko Milicic finally got some playing time and gave a glimpse of why the 7-footer was the second overall pick in the 2003 draft.
The Pistons, playing without injured starters Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace, also got a career-high 16 points from Milicic, who made his first career start and played 30 minutes, also a career-high.
“I was thrilled,” Detroit coach Larry Brown said. “He had a very productive night.”
“No. Coach told me I was going to play a lot in the last two games so he could rest some of the regulars for the playoffs,” said Milicic, a native of Serbia-Montenegro.
He shook of a slow start, including getting his third personal foul with 4:41 left in the first quarter. He went to the bench, but returned in the second quarter and only committed one more foul. He was 7-for-11 from the field and had five rebounds and three blocked shots.
“I wasn’t really nervous out there. I just needed to get going,” Milicic said.
“It was the first time I got to play so much. It felt good,” he said. “I got a chance to show people what I can do. It’s tough not playing, but I just support my team. That’s how it is.”
Detroit’s longest winning streak of the season is two shy of the 13 straight the Pistons had last season en route to the NBA championship.
“We’re finishing the season off very well,” Prince said. “Hopefully it will carry over to the playoffs, which it usually does.”
The 68 points by the Hawks matched their season-low.
The Pistons (54-27), with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, play Charlotte on Wednesday night to end the regular season. Detroit opens the playoffs at home on Saturday.
Milicic doesn’t expect to see much action in the postseason.
“I don’t think getting playing time these two games at the end is going to change anything,” he said. “This team has all-stars. But, you never know.”
The hapless Hawks, with the worst record in the league (13-68), failed again in their bid to win two in a row for the first time this season. Atlanta closes its season Wednesday night at Philadelphia.
“I honestly didn’t think we’d go the whole year without winning two straight,” Childress said. “But I don’t want to think about the negatives. Right now I’m looking to the future.”
Prince, who played 26 minutes, was 8-of-10 from the field, including 2-for-2 on 3s. Wallace was 7-of-10 from the field in 24 minutes but was only 1-of-7 at the free throw line.
Detroit’s biggest lead came at 88-52 on a dunk by Ronald Dupree with 7:24 left.
The Pistons took a 72-42 lead on a three-point play by Wallace with 1:59 left in the third quarter. They led 45-32 at halftime.
Hamilton, Detroit’s leading scorer, received a laceration above his left eye Sunday against Cleveland. Rasheed Wallace has a sore left hamstring. Both will play Saturday when the playoffs begin. … Atlanta’s Tony Delk had a sore right knee and Kevin Willis a sore foot. Neither played. Tom Gugliotta, who started and played 10 minutes, hurt his left knee and did not return.