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Hamilton comes out firing as Pistons cool off Rockets

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Richard Hamilton is trying something
new this weekend.

So far, he and his Detroit Pistons teammates are very happy with
the results.

Hamilton scored 30 points and Chauncey Billups added 23 to help
Detroit beat the Houston Rockets 104-92 Saturday night.

Instead of gradually working his way into the flow of a game,
Hamilton has tried attacking the basket from the opening tip, and
it has resulted in 57 points in a pair of victories.

"I'm always in a comfort level, but this is about being
aggressive right out of the gate," he said. "I'm going hard,
instead of waiting for it."

The Pistons (5-5) have won two straight to get back to .500
after their worst start in six years.

"This team is still finding its identity," Pistons coach Flip
Saunders said. "We felt like we might go through some tough times
early, because of our schedule. But it is good to see that the
starters are getting into a rhythm, and that we're only a game or
two behind where we had hoped to be."

Houston (6-4) had won five of six.

The teams traded the lead through the early portions of the
fourth quarter, but the Pistons took control with a 17-2 run that
gave them a 98-85 lead with 3:18 left.

"I'm very disappointed," Houston's Tracy McGrady said. "We
talked about it, and we know what the problem is, because it has
been the same thing all the time. We give ourselves a chance to win
on the road, and then we lose it in the fourth quarter."

Rasheed Wallace and Flip Murray each had six points in the
surge.

Murray hasn't gotten much playing time as Hamilton's backup, but
Detroit went with a three-guard offense in Saturday's fourth
quarter.

"I just want to be a spark," he said. "When I come into the
game, I'm trying to create havoc on both ends of the floor."

Wallace finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for Detroit and
Tayshaun Prince scored 15 points.

Yao Ming scored 33 points and added 16 rebounds. McGrady added
25 points for Houston, but no other Rockets player reached double
figures.

"We think we can do some things better," Houston coach Jeff
Van Gundy said. "We were up two going into the fourth, and we
didn't rebound, we didn't shoot and we had a number of turnovers.
They made it hard on us, but we didn't make it very hard on them."

The Pistons looked comfortable early, but Houston went on a 20-1
run that spanned the first and second quarters. The Rockets held
the Pistons without a field goal for nearly eight minutes, and it
spurred them to a 52-50 halftime lead.

Yao had 19 in the half and McGrady added 17 before picking up
his third foul in the last seconds of the second quarter.

The game remained close for the entire third quarter. Detroit
went ahead 74-72 on a late dunk by Prince, but the Rockets moved
back into a 78-76 lead at the end of the period.

Game notes
Prince hit a medium-range jumper at the first-half buzzer
to get Detroit within two. ... The game was announced as the 141st
straight sellout at the Palace, but there were noticeable gaps in
the crowd on the evening of the Michigan-Ohio State game. ... The
Pistons' bench was given a technical foul in the second quarter,
and when Leon Washington was asked who it was on, he replied "All
of them!" The technical was eventually credited to Wallace, his
fifth of the young season, but the Pistons felt it should have been
called on assistant coach Ron Harper and have appealed to the
league office.