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Dallas drops fourth home game

DALLAS (AP) -- Even when the Detroit Pistons have a big offensive
game, all they want to talk about is defense.

While Chauncey Billups tied his season high with 24 points and
Richard Hamilton added 19, the Pistons were more proud of the way
they stifled Dirk Nowitzki in a 101-85 victory over the Dallas
Mavericks on Monday night.

Nowitzki came in as the NBA's leading scorer at 27.4 points per
game. He still got 27, but it wasn't easy as 15 came on free
throws. Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace harassed Nowitzki into
going 3-for-17 through three quarters with a run of 10 straight
misses from late in the first quarter until midway through the
third.

"You just have to stay in front of him and make it as difficult
as possible," Ben Wallace said. "You can't let him get layups
early in the game because once he gets comfortable, he easily gets
on a roll."

Nowitzki was coming off games with 53 and 30 points. He offset
his cold shooting on jumpers by going to the basket as much as
possible, but free throws couldn't provide the momentum Dallas
needed. The Mavericks trailed by 10 at halftime and 21 late in the
third, getting no closer than 12 the rest of the way, even once
Nowitzki began finding his stroke.

"It was frustrating because I had a lot of good looks,"
Nowitzki said. "I kept shooting because everyone needs me to do
that and they told me to do that, but I was cold."

The Pistons wrapped up a four-game road trip at 3-1, with the
victories coming by a combined 60 points and the only loss coming
by three at San Antonio. Detroit also got Ben Wallace back from a
suspension on the second game of the trip.

"We're regaining our form and playing the right way," Billups
said. "This was one of our best games of the season. We dominated
throughout against one of the better teams."

Dallas seems to bring out the best in Detroit's offense. The
Pistons had their two highest-scoring games last season in their
two games against the Mavericks and this marked just the third time
this season they've broken 100.

Billups got them rolling with their first eight points, then
Hamilton took over in the third quarter. He had 13 points in the
period, going 4-of-5 with a 3-pointer and making four free throws.

Dallas scored a season-low 39 first-half points en route to
their fourth home loss and second on a four-game homestand. The
Mavericks lost only five home games last season. They hardly had
their usual home-court advantage, however, as a Dallas Cowboys game
going on at the same time led to many empty seats, and the big
deficit silenced the crowd.

With Nowitzki off and the fans out of it, Dallas hardly had a
chance.

"I felt very useless tonight," coach Don Nelson said. "I
couldn't do much to help the team. ... We will just have to
regroup."

Probably the biggest cheers came with 3:24 left, when Rasheed
Wallace was called for a technical for arguing a foul after bumping
Erick Dampier while going for a rebound. Wallace riled up fans
earlier in the quarter when he jammed an elbow into the back of
Shawn Bradley's ear while trying to get around a screen for
Nowitzki; he complained about that call, too.

Rasheed Wallace scored 13, Tayshaun Prince added 12, including
two stunning dunks, and Elden Campbell hit his first four shots
while scoring a season-high 11. Ben Wallace followed a career-high
22 points with eight, but added 15 rebounds.

Jerry Stackhouse scored 13 for Dallas, Josh Howard had 12 and
Erick Dampier scored 11 and had 14 rebounds.

Point guard remains a problem for the Mavericks. Rookie Devin
Harris started the game and was scoreless with four assists in 13
minutes, and backup Jason Terry had five points and three assists
in 19 minutes. Newly acquired Darrell Armstrong had seven points
and two assists in 27 minutes; he also started the second half.

Starting off guard Marquis Daniels, who was expected to run the
offense some this season, had four points and two assists in 19
minutes.

Game notes
The Pistons (9-8) moved above .500 for the first time they
were 5-4. ... Thanks to Billups and Hamilton, Detroit's starting
backcourt outscored Dallas' 43-4. ... The Mavericks had broken 100
the last four games against the Pistons. ... Nowitzki has made 62
of his last 65 free throws. ... Dallas didn't lose its fourth game
at home until Jan. 31 last season.