WASHINGTON (AP) -- No need for a coach to intrude when a player
is this hot. Score tied? Clock running down? Instead of calling
timeout, Larry Brown let Chauncey Billups call the play.
Billups, of course, called his own number, a clearout that gave
him an open look for a 14-footer that won the game with 0.7 seconds
remaining, giving the Detroit Pistons a 107-105 victory over the
Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
"He had a hot hand, and he called the play," Brown said. "He
had confidence to do it and make sure they didn't get another
opportunity. I'm glad because I don't like to call timeouts,
especially with them out of timeouts. It gives us a chance to put
the pressure on them."
Billups scored 10 of his season-high 32 points in the final five
minutes and had a key block with 58 seconds to go. He finished
6-for-8 from 3-point range. The Pistons overcame a 15-point
third-quarter deficit to win their third straight, displaying the
kind of fortitude they'll need if they're to successfully defend
their NBA title.
"They are the world champions, and they know how to win
playoff-type basketball," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said.
"And this was very close to that."
Playing before their first sellout crowd of the season, the
Wizards saw the game as a measuring stick for the progress they've
made in their best start in two decades. Washington has lost seven
straight to Detroit, but this one was as maddening they get.
"The only time I felt like that was when I played in college
and we played against Duke in the championship," said Washington
guard Gilbert Arenas, whose Arizona Wildcats lost to the Blue
Devils in the 2001 NCAA title game. "That's the last time I felt
that disappointed in a loss. That's because we played so hard, and
it's like nothing we did right we got rewarded for."
Arenas was upset over his fifth foul, which put him on the bench
for two vital minutes when the Pistons made a fourth-quarter run to
take the lead. The call was for a swipe at Antonio McDyess on a
"What's our record?" Arenas asked. Told that it is 15-12, he
said: "In my book, it's 16-11. That's all I've got to say. ... I
go to the sideline, and that's when they take advantage. It's a
hard one to swallow."
Rasheed Wallace scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth
quarter, and Ben Wallace added eight points and 14 rebounds for the
Pistons, who have won three straight to match their longest winning
streak of the season.
Arenas scored 34 points, and Larry Hughes had 30 points, seven
assists and six steals for the Wizards.
The Wizards won one important battle: The game was played at
their preferred pace -- high scoring with plenty of fast breaks --
and not at the Pistons' defensive tempo.
The Wizards' big run came in the second quarter, when they
outscored the Pistons 34-19 to take a 59-42 halftime lead.
Washington shot 61 percent, scored 10 fast-break points and
committed just one turnover in the period.
The Pistons came back in the third quarter. Jamison was called
for a technical foul for disputing a call, and Billups made two
3-pointers in a 14-2 run that cut the lead to 63-60. Washington led
79-74 entering the fourth.
After Arenas went to the bench with his fifth foul, Billups made
a tough contested jumper over Steve Blake and followed with
back-to-back 3-pointers in a one-man 8-0 fourth-quarter run that
gave the Pistons their first lead since the first quarter, 101-96
with 3:40 to play.
The Wizards tied the game on Hughes' 15-footer with 1:23 to
play. Hughes had a chance to give Washington the lead, but he was
stuffed by Billups' third block of the season. Rasheed Wallace's
layup gave the Pistons a 105-103 lead with 36 seconds remaining.
Jamison then tied the game with a layup, and Billups dribbled down
the clock and made the winning shot.
"This was a game where we knew we had to go head-to-head,
toe-to-toe, with the world champions," Jordan said. "We thought
we could start momentum here, get a lot of confidence beating them
at home. ... I thought we played well enough. We competed, and it
came down to the last shot."
The sellout was the Wizards' first since Feb. 28, when they
hosted the Los Angeles Lakers. ... Wizards forward Kwame Brown, who
strained a right ankle tendon Monday against Charlotte, dressed but
did not play. ... The Wizards had eight steals in the first half;
Detroit had none.
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