Pistons 98, 76ers 89
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Larry Brown would have loved this if he was still coaching Detroit instead of watching from a 76ers’ luxury suite while his new team lost again.
Prince scored a career-high 33 points and Richard Hamilton had 22 to lead Detroit to a 98-89 victory over Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
“If I get a couple of paint buckets and get to the line, I’m capable of going on runs like that,” Prince said.
Prince pushed aside an illness and a mini-slump to push back the Sixers. He went 5-for-6 from 3-point range and buried one from beyond the arc late in the third and fourth quarters for a needed cushion. He was only 8-for-27 for 23 points in his last two games.
“Once I knocked a couple down, I knew it was going to be that kind of night,” Prince said. “We’ve really been going to Rip a lot trying to put us over the hump, and it was time for me to get into it offensively and make some plays.”
Flip Murray had a career-high 12 assists for the Pistons. Wallace did not start the game because he was late for practice on Monday, played only 29 minutes and scored eight points.
Wallace said he understood coach Flip Saunders’ decision and tried to add a spark off the bench.
The Sixers played again without Chris Webber, who sat out officially with foot and ankle injuries, but the 33-year-old former All-Star could be on his way out of Philadelphia with a contract buyout in the works. Webber has missed 10 of the last 13 games.
There were no torn loyalties in this one for Brown, the new Sixers executive vice president. The coach who led the Sixers to the NBA finals and won an NBA title in the first of his two seasons in Detroit watched from a suite for probably one of the few times in his pro career.
Maybe in their two days following their 17-point loss at Chicago, the Pistons worked on their shooting. Or maybe it was simply playing against the Sixers. Whatever the reason, the Pistons were simply sensational from the floor, hovering around 60 percent well into the fourth quarter.
The Pistons shot 35 percent against the Bulls and finished at 56 in Philly.
Prince went 13-for-18 and Hamilton made 11 of 16 shots. The Pistons were unselfish, also, with 32 assists on 40 baskets.
“We’re the type of team that will play for each other no matter who’s out there,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t matter to us. We just play together.”
The revamped Sixers are certainly playing with more spirit since last month’s trade that sent Allen Iverson to Denver. Without Iverson and Webber, there are more shots to go around and no one is demanding a certain amount of touches. Most of the key players that remain, such as Iguodala, Dalembert and Kyle Korver, are the ones they’ll rebuild around.
For this season, at least, it will be a lot more games like this one.
“We continued to push and push, and it looked like we were kind of going uphill in the first half,” coach Maurice Cheeks said. “It looked like all night long we were climbing uphill.”
The Sixers trailed by three early in the third until Detroit started to put this one away. Hamilton scored on a jumper and a fast-break dunk on consecutive possessions to build a 13-point lead. When Prince hit a 3-pointer late in the quarter, it gave the Pistons an impressive 26 assists on 32 baskets.
The Pistons ended the quarter with another nifty play. Wallace blocked Miller’s driving layup right into the hands of Hamilton, who fed another Detroit player, who got it to Prince for a layup and an 80-64 lead.
“They’ve run the same system with the same players for a long time and it showed tonight,” Korver said.
Prince hit a 3 for a 90-72 lead that send most of the fans home for the night. The Sixers did go on a 10-3 run in the final minutes to make the score at least somewhat respectable.
Billups missed another game with a strained right calf … Sixers chairman Ed Snider introduced himself to Miller and Smith in the locker room before the game. … Sixers C Steven Hunter did not play because his fiancee gave birth to their son. … The Sixers played their first home game since Dec. 23 and were coming off a 2-5 road trip.