Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/29

Game 1: Wednesday, December 29th
Game 2: Tuesday, February 1st
Game 3: Saturday, February 12th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 6th

Pistons 107

(15-12, 7-8 away)

Wizards 105

(15-12, 8-5 home)

Coverage: WDWB

7:00 PM ET, December 29, 2004

Verizon Center, Washington, DC

1 2 3 4 T
DET 23 19 32 33107
WSH 25 34 20 26105

Top Performers

Detroit: C. Billups 32 Pts, 2 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Washington: L. Hughes 30 Pts, 4 Reb, 7 Ast, 6 Stl, 2 Blk

Pistons guard hits winning shot inside final second

WASHINGTON (AP) -- No need for a coach to intrude when a player is this hot. Score tied? Clock running down? Instead of calling timeout, Larry Brown let Chauncey Billups call the play.

Billups, of course, called his own number, a clearout that gave him an open look for a 14-footer that won the game with 0.7 seconds remaining, giving the Detroit Pistons a 107-105 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

"He had a hot hand, and he called the play," Brown said. "He had confidence to do it and make sure they didn't get another opportunity. I'm glad because I don't like to call timeouts, especially with them out of timeouts. It gives us a chance to put the pressure on them."

Billups scored 10 of his season-high 32 points in the final five minutes and had a key block with 58 seconds to go. He finished 6-for-8 from 3-point range. The Pistons overcame a 15-point third-quarter deficit to win their third straight, displaying the kind of fortitude they'll need if they're to successfully defend their NBA title.

"They are the world champions, and they know how to win playoff-type basketball," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. "And this was very close to that."

Playing before their first sellout crowd of the season, the Wizards saw the game as a measuring stick for the progress they've made in their best start in two decades. Washington has lost seven straight to Detroit, but this one was as maddening they get.

"The only time I felt like that was when I played in college and we played against Duke in the championship," said Washington guard Gilbert Arenas, whose Arizona Wildcats lost to the Blue Devils in the 2001 NCAA title game. "That's the last time I felt that disappointed in a loss. That's because we played so hard, and it's like nothing we did right we got rewarded for."

Arenas was upset over his fifth foul, which put him on the bench for two vital minutes when the Pistons made a fourth-quarter run to take the lead. The call was for a swipe at Antonio McDyess on a fast-break layup.

"What's our record?" Arenas asked. Told that it is 15-12, he said: "In my book, it's 16-11. That's all I've got to say. ... I go to the sideline, and that's when they take advantage. It's a hard one to swallow."

Rasheed Wallace scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, and Ben Wallace added eight points and 14 rebounds for the Pistons, who have won three straight to match their longest winning streak of the season.

Arenas scored 34 points, and Larry Hughes had 30 points, seven assists and six steals for the Wizards.

The Wizards won one important battle: The game was played at their preferred pace -- high scoring with plenty of fast breaks -- and not at the Pistons' defensive tempo.

The Wizards' big run came in the second quarter, when they outscored the Pistons 34-19 to take a 59-42 halftime lead. Washington shot 61 percent, scored 10 fast-break points and committed just one turnover in the period.

The Pistons came back in the third quarter. Jamison was called for a technical foul for disputing a call, and Billups made two 3-pointers in a 14-2 run that cut the lead to 63-60. Washington led 79-74 entering the fourth.

After Arenas went to the bench with his fifth foul, Billups made a tough contested jumper over Steve Blake and followed with back-to-back 3-pointers in a one-man 8-0 fourth-quarter run that gave the Pistons their first lead since the first quarter, 101-96 with 3:40 to play.

The Wizards tied the game on Hughes' 15-footer with 1:23 to play. Hughes had a chance to give Washington the lead, but he was stuffed by Billups' third block of the season. Rasheed Wallace's layup gave the Pistons a 105-103 lead with 36 seconds remaining. Jamison then tied the game with a layup, and Billups dribbled down the clock and made the winning shot.

"This was a game where we knew we had to go head-to-head, toe-to-toe, with the world champions," Jordan said. "We thought we could start momentum here, get a lot of confidence beating them at home. ... I thought we played well enough. We competed, and it came down to the last shot."

Game notes

The sellout was the Wizards' first since Feb. 28, when they hosted the Los Angeles Lakers. ... Wizards forward Kwame Brown, who strained a right ankle tendon Monday against Charlotte, dressed but did not play. ... The Wizards had eight steals in the first half; Detroit had none.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 107 105
FGM-FGA 39-78 (.500) 40-82 (.488)
3PM-3PA 8-11 (.727) 7-19 (.368)
FTM-FTA 21-28 (.750) 18-20 (.900)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-39 13-33
Assists 20 18
Turnovers 17 12
Steals 2 13
Blocks 5 3
Fast Break Points 8 16
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 24 (1/0)
Largest Lead 7 19

Top Performers

Chauncey Billups Billups
Points: 32
Reb: 2
Ast: 6
Stl: 2
Blk: 1
Larry Hughes Hughes
Points: 30
Reb: 4
Ast: 7
Stl: 6
Blk: 2