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Backup James scores 19 of his 21 in second half

4/13/2004

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.