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Billups sparks Detroit in comeback win over Blazers

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Chauncey Billups kept the Detroit Pistons
hanging around. When Rasheed Wallace got in the act, his former
team wilted.

Billups had 21 points and 10 assists and the Pistons beat the
Portland Trail Blazers 84-81 on Friday night.

Billups hit two free throws with 9.3 seconds left and Zach
Randolph missed a 3-pointer as the Pistons survived a tough
challenge from the rebuilding Blazers.

Wallace scored 13 points in his third trip to Portland since his
contentious stint with the Blazers ended two years ago. Wallace
overcame a slow start, contributing to the victory with tenacious
defense and clutch shooting in the fourth quarter.

"No matter how a game is going, Sheed is going to hit big
shots," Billups said. "He's so gutsy. And I know for him to hit
them in this building is better than any other place. We wanted to
get this win for him."

The Pistons (6-0) are the only undefeated team in the NBA and
are off to their best start since going 8-0 in 1988-89 en route to
the first of consecutive NBA championships.

Darius Miles had 23 points and Zach Randolph added 21 points and
10 rebounds for the Blazers, who lost at home for the first time
this season.

Detroit, coming off a hard-fought 111-104 win over Phoenix on
Thursday night, clamped down on Miles and Randolph in the final
quarter, holding Miles scoreless and Randolph to two points.

"We didn't have a lot of energy (early on)," Pistons coach
Flip Saunders said. "We got more energy in the fourth quarter and
defense kept us in the game."

Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton each had 14 points for the
Pistons, who had all five starters in double figures.

The Blazers shot 55 percent in the first half, outplaying the
Pistons to lead by as many as 10 points. But they couldn't keep the
lead, as mistakes began to add up late.

"If you have 16 turnovers, miss seven free throws and don't
execute down the stretch, you don't beat a good team like the
Pistons," coach Nate McMillan said.

Wallace, playing with four fouls, hit two 3-pointers, drew a
charge and blocked a shot as the Pistons went up 80-72 with just
over 4 minutes left.

But Juan Dixon converted a three-point play and Sebastian
Telfair's layup made it 82-79.

Dixon hit two free throws at 17.3 to cut the lead to one.

The second-youngest team in the NBA, the Blazers won their first
two home games, over Atlanta and New York.

"They made it tough on us," Billups said. "Our veteran
experience took over and prevailed in the end."

Randolph, who replaced Wallace at power forward for the Blazers,
had 29 points and 12 rebounds against New York on Wednesday night.

Billups, who made eight of nine free throws, was coming off a
27-point, 11-assist performance against Phoenix.

Theo Ratliff had 14 rebounds for Portland.

Game notes
Former Blazers Terry Porter and Chris Dudley were in
attendance, as was Bill Walton, who called the nationally televised
game for ESPN. ... Wallace entered the game averaging 13 points and
10 rebounds against the Blazers. ... Saunders is the only Pistons
coach to go 6-0 in his first season. He also went 6-0 to start the
2000-01 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.