Billups scores 27 in Pistons comeback win

PHOENIX (AP) -- Those Detroit Pistons sure know how to finish a

game. The Phoenix Suns, a work in progress, have a knack for

blowing fourth-quarter leads at home.

Richard Hamilton scored 11 points in the final 7½ minutes and

Chauncey Billups sank a game-clinching 3-pointer with 16 seconds to

go to keep the Pistons unbeaten with a 111-104 victory over the

Suns on Thursday night.

Billups had 27 points and 11 assists for the Pistons, the

league's lone team without a loss. At 5-0, they are off to their

best start since they won their first eight en route to the NBA

title in 1988-89.

"We just want to keep it going," Hamilton said. "Guys here

are very energetic. Everybody's pulling for each other. We want to

win as many games as possible, and we did a great job tonight."

In an intense game throughout, the Suns -- 0-3 at home -- led by

11 with 2:38 to go in the third quarter and eight to start the

fourth, blowing a late lead at home for the second time this

season. They were up by 17 in the fourth quarter of their home

opener against Dallas but lost in double overtime.

Their other home loss was a one-pointer to Sacramento.

"It seems like we need about a nickel more to make a dollar,"

coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We're almost there and we can't quite

finish it up."

Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince scored 18 apiece and Rasheed

Wallace 16 for Detroit. Ben Wallace had 15 points and 16 rebounds.

Leandro Barbosa scored 21 to lead seven Suns in double figures

but didn't play the final 6:05. Steve Nash scored 18 with eight

assists and six turnovers. Shawn Marion had 12 points and 10

rebounds. Raja Bell scored 14.

Nash, uncharacteristically, refused to talk to reporters


"It hurts, man, because when you're working as hard as we were

working out there tonight, especially to shut them down," Marion

said, "then players get in a rhythm."

Detroit outscored the Suns 12-2 over the final four minutes.

Phoenix turned it over on its final two possessions on attempts by

Nash to pass the ball inside, first to Brian Grant and then to Kurt


The Pistons tied it at 102 on Rasheed Wallace's second 3-pointer

of the fourth quarter with 3:14 to play.

Nash followed with a 16-footer to put Phoenix back on top,

104-102 with 2:55 to go. The Suns never scored again.

Hamilton sank consecutive long jumpers, the second one giving

Detroit the lead for good at 106-104 with 59 seconds remaining.

After a turnover, the Pistons moved the ball around the perimeter

to Billups, who sank the 3-pointer from the right of the key to

give the defending Eastern Conference champions a 109-104 lead. Ben

Wallace's breakaway stuff after another turnover provided the final


"The defense turned it up, no question," Detroit coach Flip

Saunders said. "Offensively, we turned things up. ... It was at

both ends. That's why this has been a championship team. It was a

fun game to watch. I'm sure the people at TNT got their money's


After a 52-all tie at halftime, the Suns opened the second half

with a 14-4 run. Raja Bell scored five in the run, and capped it

with a 16-footer that put Phoenix up 66-56 with 8:26 to play in the

third quarter. Nash had a three-point play in the surge on a

left-handed drive after he was fouled by Billups.

Barbosa scored the Suns' final six points of the quarter and

Phoenix led 82-74 entering the fourth.

Neither team led by more than seven points in the first half.

Rasheed Wallace was booed loudly, but the effect was the

opposite of what the Suns' fans desired when he came into the game

for the final time, hit two big shots and played strong defense.

"I love it," Wallace said. "I love going into the opposing

team's house and getting that crowd riled up and going in there and

getting that `W.' That's something I've always liked doing ever

since I was in high school. You know, ain't nothing changed about

me but the weather."

Game notes
Suns center Pat Burke saw his first action of the season,

going 0-for-2 in three minutes of the first quarter. ... Phoenix

used 10 players in the first quarter, but Jim Jackson never got off

the bench all night. ... Boris Diaw got his first start for the

Suns and finished with 10 points and six assists. ... The Suns'

bench outscored the Pistons' 40-17.