Believe it. With Chauncey Billups guiding his team, Pistons coach Flip Saunders feels comfortable with any type of tempo.
Billups scored 29 points, including Detroit’s final nine at the foul line, and the Pistons set all sorts of season highs, beating the Wizards 115-111 Saturday night to stretch their winning streak to six games.
“One thing we have learned to do is be able to play different styles. We’re able to go small when people go small. We’re able to play in a fast-paced game. We’re able to play in some grind-it-out games,” Saunders said. “We’re able to do a little bit of everything.”
Such as match the end-to-end game preferred by the Wizards, who lost their fourth in a row despite Gilbert Arenas’ 28 points and 10 assists, a night after he shot 1-for-12 and scored three.
“Gil got his groove back a little bit. A lot,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.
But five Pistons scored in double figures, including Tayshaun Prince with 21, and Richard Hamilton with 18. Billups had seven assists to only one turnover and was 18-for-19 on free throws, both career highs.
“If we fouled anybody else besides Chauncey,” Arenas said, “we probably could have had a chance to win.”
With both teams playing for the fourth time in five days, there wasn’t a whole lot of stingy defense.
Washington led 35-34 after the first quarter, which represented the most points scored and allowed by the Pistons in any period this season.
They were only getting started.
Detroit also set season bests for points in a half (62 in the first), points in a game, 3-pointers made (11) and free throws made (36-for-40).
“We were scoring pretty easily. They weren’t stopping us,” Billups said. “When we have a chance to run, I’ll push it.”
The Pistons came in averaging 97.2 points—19th in the 30-team NBA—and hadn’t scored more than 104 in a game.
They topped that on Rasheed Wallace’s jumper with a little under two minutes left, making the score 105-96. Wallace finished with 13 points, while Antonio McDyess’ 10 were part of Detroit’s 32-12 edge in scoring by reserves.
“Flip did a great job of using the bench a lot today, and they got their rhythm going,” Prince said. “We just had it going so well offensively that there was no stopping us tonight.”
“We’re trying to get out of this slump,” Jordan said. “We had our offense going, and our defense suffered a little bit.”
Prince scored eight consecutive Pistons points during a stretch bridging the first and second quarters, part of a 19-2 spurt that put Detroit up 50-37. A 10-0 run by Washington pulled the hosts within 59-58, before Hamilton banked in a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to make it 62-58 at halftime.
“It was certainly a travel right before he took the shot,” Jordan said, “but we’ve got to live with it.”
He said he liked his players’ effort, but at least one Wizards player thinks the team’s 4-9 start calls for some changes.
“We have to mix some things up, play harder on defense, be smarter—even switch the starting lineup. Sometimes you have to do stuff like that to get going,” said DeShawn Stevenson, who scored 15. “Hopefully we can try different things. We’ve got to get a win.”
Washington is 4-2 at home; its 0-7 road record matches the worst start in franchise history. … Entering Saturday, only four clubs had worse records than Washington: Charlotte, Chicago, Memphis and Toronto, all 3-9. … The Pistons were playing their fifth back-to-back set of the season. They’ll have 22 in 2006-07, tied for most in the NBA. … Wizards F Michael Ruffin sat out his third consecutive game with a sprained right foot. “We think it could be up to two weeks,” Jordan said.