All four of Detroit’s All-Stars had big games. In addition to Hamilton and Billups, Rasheed Wallace finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds and Ben Wallace had nine points, 17 rebounds, six blocks and five steals. Even Tayshaun Prince, the only Detroit starter to miss the trip to Houston, scored 14.
All of the Pistons’ starters played at least 33 minutes and the team got only 10 points from its bench in the game, but the starters were too much for the Hawks.
“We made them play their starters big minutes,” said Atlanta coach Mike Woodson, an assistant on Detroit’s 2004 championship team. “That’s what you want, but their starters are as good as anyone in the league.”
The Hawks were trying to join Utah as the only teams with multiple wins over the Pistons this season, but couldn’t pick up their sixth win in nine games. Al Harrington led Atlanta with 20 points and Josh Childress added 18.
“You can’t afford to make any mistakes against that team,” Childress said. “We played solid, but we made a few mistakes. They feed off getting in the first punch, and we didn’t stay aggressive.”
Detroit only led by two at the half, but took control in the third quarter. Hamilton scored 12 points in the period, and Billups hit his second buzzer-beating jumper of the game to put Detroit up 74-63.
“It took us a while, but we got it going,” Billups said. “It’s tough when you haven’t played in a week.”
Detroit outrebounded Atlanta 55-53 and led by as many as 19 in the fourth.
“They are always tough ones, when you’ve been gone for seven days and you come back and are expected to win,” said Pistons coach Flip Saunders, who coached his four players in Sunday’s All-Star game. “I thought we executed when we needed to—in the second half.”
The Pistons got off to a fast start, leading 9-0 and 20-5, but stalled just as quickly. Atlanta went on a 15-1 run that included six points from Marvin Williams, and trailed 23-20 at the end of the first.
The Hawks led for a good portion of the second quarter, but Billups’ jumper with 0.1 seconds left gave the Pistons a 45-43 lead at halftime. The Atlanta bench outscored Detroit’s reserves 23-5 in the half.
Zaza Pachulia left the game in the second quarter after being inadvertently hit in the throat by Hamilton. Pachulia was facedown on the court for several moments, but eventually walked off under his own power and returned later in the period. … The Hawks beat the Pistons 99-98 in Atlanta on Feb. 7. … The Pistons got a scare in the fourth quarter when Antonio McDyess dove into the crowd after a loose ball and appeared to narrowly miss 84-year-old Detroit owner William Davidson. … A sizable number of fans chanted “We Want Darko,” as has become traditional late in lopsided games, even though Darko Milicic was traded to Orlando last week. … Alex Acker made his NBA debut, playing the final minute for Detroit.