Memphis reaches .500 for first time this season

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons were so inept that their leading scorer didn't even make a field goal -- a first in NBA history.

Bonzi Wells scored 23 points to help the Memphis Grizzlies beat Detroit 101-79 on Thursday night, extending their season-high

winning streak to five games.

The Pistons shot just 31 percent and were paced by Richard Hamilton's 14 points -- even though he finished 0-for-10 from the floor. It was the first time in NBA history that a team's leading scorer did not connect from the field, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"It was just one of those nights," said Hamilton, who hit all 14 of his free throws.

The defending NBA champion Pistons, who had won five of six, were handed their most lopsided loss since a 108-76 defeat at San Antonio on Jan. 25, 2003.

"They've got a championship, so I guess they can take a night off," Wells said. "We don't have a championship, so we're hungry. We were just more aggressive."

The Grizzlies (17-17) reached .500 for the first time this season. They were 5-11 when they hired Mike Fratello on Dec. 2 to replace the retired Hubie Brown.

"Coach had us shooting for .500 since he was hired because we had to get here before we could get where we want to go this season," said Wells, who shot 9-of-15 off the bench.

Detroit fell behind in the first quarter and trailed by nine at halftime before the Grizzlies led by as many as 22 in the third and coasted in the fourth.

The Pistons won the NBA title last season with hustle, tough defense, unselfish play and balanced scoring. Memphis used that formula to rout them.

The Grizzlies appeared to be much more motivated to play hard from the start while Detroit was sluggish, as it often has been early in games this season.

"I never thought I would have to coach effort," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "I've never had to do that in my entire life, and this is the last group that I expected to have to do it with.

"Maybe a game like this will make us recognize how bad it is," he said.

Ben Wallace hopes so.

"This game proves what happens when you don't come out ready to play," he said.

The Pistons (17-14) were 18-13 at the same point last season.

Memphis held Detroit to 31.3 percent shooting, forced 23 turnovers and blocked 15 shots.

"We got a lot of easy baskets off our defense," Shane Battier said. "When we get easy baskets, our confidence soars."

The Grizzlies had 32 assists, many thanks to fantastic ball movement, and seven players scored at least eight points.

Pau Gasol had just 12 points after averaging 24 in the previous four games, but his teammates picked up the slack.

Mike Miller scored 17, Battier had 12, reserve Stromile Swift scored 11 and Lorenzen Wright added 10. Jason Williams had 11 assists and only one turnover.

"We don't have a dominant superstar, much like Detroit, so no one feels the pressure to carry the team," Battier said.

When the Grizzlies weren't getting easy dunks, they were making wide-open shots. They made 12-of-21 3-pointers.

"There's no question that we were in one of those zones from the 3-point line," Fratello said. "Guys were teeing them up and knocking them down."

As he often does, Wells had a big night against the Pistons.

Wells was drafted by the Pistons in 1998 but didn't play for them because he was traded to Portland.

"I just like to play good against any team that let me go," said Wells, who scored a career-high 37 two years ago against Detroit.

The Grizzlies took the lead for good on an entertaining sequence late in the first quarter.

After Wallace blocked two of Gasol's shots, Williams ended up with the ball and made a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired.Game notes
The Grizzlies, who beat Detroit 72-68 on Dec. 11 at home,

won the season series against the Pistons for just the second time in franchise history and beat them on the road for the first time since 1997. ... Detroit point guard Anthony Goldwire, who signed a 10-day contract Wednesday, had 10 points. ... The Pistons have trailed after the first quarter and halftime in 21 of 31 games. ... Memphis' Brian Cardinal, who has played in just 14 games this season because of shoulder and foot injuries, said he hopes to play Jan. 11 against Indiana.