Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 11/29

Game 1: Saturday, November 29th
Game 2: Friday, January 16th
Game 3: Monday, April 12th

Wizards 79

(25-56, 8-33 away)

Pistons 101

(54-27, 31-10 home)

    7:30 PM ET, April 12, 2004

    The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

    1 2 3 4 T
    WSH 25 22 15 1779
    DET 23 20 29 29101

    Top Performers

    Washington: L. Hughes 19 Pts, 4 Reb, 5 Ast, 3 Stl

    Detroit: R. Hamilton 24 Pts, 5 Reb, 12 Ast, 1 Stl

    Backup James scores 19 of his 21 in second half

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- When Mike James was traded in February, he went from the Boston Celtics' starting lineup to the Detroit Pistons' bench.

    Injuries have given James a chance to play a larger role with his new team -- and he's taking advantage of it.

    James scored 21 points, including 19 in the second half, as the Pistons broke open a close game to win their eighth in a row, 101-79 over the Washington Wizards.

    "That was fun," said James, who hadn't scored more than 13 points since coming to the Pistons in the three-team Rasheed Wallace deal. "I just got into a rhythm for the first time in a while. That's when you start taking shots that you normally would have passed up."

    James' playing time has increased with Chauncey Billups out with an ankle injury and Lindsey Hunter limited by a sore knee.

    Pistons coach Larry Brown said that he has been surprised by James.

    "We were hoping that Rasheed would have a big impact on our team, but we weren't expecting this from Mike James," he said. "He has been a big contributor and he was great tonight."

    The Pistons have won 16 of 18 games, including 11 straight at home.

    "This is what happens when you work hard and play the right way," Pistons center Ben Wallace said. "It's fun when you can play like this. We just want to keep this momentum going until the playoffs."

    The Wizards have lost eight of 10.

    "We played a terrific ball game for about 42 minutes," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "But we lost faith in what we were doing for about six minutes and that was the ball game."

    Both teams were shorthanded, as Rasheed Wallace (foot) and Billups missed the game for Detroit, while Jerry Stackhouse (ankle) and Kwame Brown (foot) were sidelined for Washington. The teams combined for 53 turnovers.

    Detroit's Richard Hamilton had 24 points and a career-high 12 assists against his former team for just his second career double-double.

    "That was for the Wizards," Hamilton said. "I always want to play at 110 percent against them, and I never want the coach to take me out."

    Gilbert Arenas led the Wizards with 20 points, despite not starting, and Larry Hughes added 19.

    "Mike James hit those four 3s and that jump started their team," Arenas said. "They just picked a time to put pressure on us when we were vulnerable. Playing on the road for any young team is hard, especially in this kind of environment."

    Washington led 47-43 after a sloppy first half that saw the teams combine for 27 turnovers. Arenas had 15 points for the Wizards, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, while Hamilton had 15 for the Pistons.

    The Pistons' defense took over in the third, and Detroit took a 55-53 lead on James' 3-pointer with 4:48 left. James hit two more 3s in the period, helping the Pistons build a 72-62 lead going into the fourth.

    He added two more 3-pointers in the first 90 seconds of the fourth.

    "I was just trying to feed him," Hamilton said. "It's fun when a teammate gets going like that."

    As usual, when the lead inflated, the chants for Darko Milicic started. The No. 2 draft pick got in for the final seven minutes. He finished with four points and three rebounds.

    Game notes

    Brown continued to honor the city's other teams by wearing a Steve Yzerman Red Wings jersey to his post-game press conference. Friday, he wore a Tigers cap and Ivan Rodriguez jersey, and Tigers manager Alan Trammell returned the favor by wearing a Brown-like pinstripe suit to his post-game interview on Sunday. ... Tigers outfielders Rondell White and Craig Monroe attended the game on a day off. ... With 12 rebounds, Ben Wallace needs just one in Tuesday's season finale to become the first player in league history to have four seasons of at least 1,000 rebounds, 100 steals and 100 blocks. He has done it in each of the last three years. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Lacey all did it three times. ... Detroit has 54 wins, matching the total of the 1996-97 team. A victory Tuesday in Toronto would give them their highest total since they had 59 in the championship season of 1989-90.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 79 101
    FGM-FGA 29-77 (.377) 39-75 (.520)
    3PM-3PA 6-20 (.300) 8-15 (.533)
    FTM-FTA 15-19 (.789) 15-16 (.938)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-28 11-42
    Assists 21 29
    Turnovers 26 27
    Steals 14 11
    Blocks 6 6
    Fast Break Points 5 11
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (1/0) 17 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Larry Hughes Hughes
    Points: 19
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0
    Richard Hamilton Hamilton
    Points: 24
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 12
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0