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James proves point vs. former team

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Detroit coach Larry Brown is glad Mike James is
finally making the big bucks. He just wishes his former point guard
wasn't earning it against his Pistons.

James, who is making $3 million this year in Milwaukee after
helping Detroit win the NBA title last summer as the team's
designated defensive stopper, scored 20 points in the Bucks' 89-86
victory over the Pistons on Friday night.

It wasn't just another game for James.

"It's always going to be something between us because we had so
much fun last year," James said. "And so now being on separate
teams, guys are going to talk junk. It's definitely personal. But
you can't worry about that. You just have to understand, when
you're in the game, play ball."

James and Rasheed Wallace exchanged good-natured barbs all night
with James getting the last laugh.

"Yeah, I punched him in the stomach. He got mad at me," James
said, chuckling. "We have fun on the court, even though we're
going to fight to the finish."

That, they did.

The Bucks' second win in two tries against Detroit this season
wasn't assured until Richard Hamilton's off-balance 3-pointer at
the buzzer banged off the rim.

"That team has been struggling," Pistons guard Chauncey
Billups said. "When you play a team whose backs are against the
wall, you know you're going to get a great effort. And they played
good. Michael James came up huge for them. He hit some big, big
shots."

Brown, who said before tip-off he was glad James cashed in on
free agency, agreed that James was the spark, "but what hurt us is
we don't go to the free throw line. We shoot all jump shots and we
got hurt on loose balls, rebounds."

"You can't make mistakes late in the game, and then our shot
selection late is not the best," Brown said. "When we've got an
advantage inside and we're not getting to the line, there's
something wrong."

The Pistons shot 13 free throws to Milwaukee's 24 even though
the Bucks often had a much smaller lineup on the court, and Brown
noted that Rasheed Wallace hasn't gotten to the free throw line
once in the last two games despite taking 37 shots from the field.

Ben Wallace also had an off-night, grabbing just three rebounds
in 38 minutes -- 10 below his average.

"It wasn't a typical Ben game," Brown said.

Tayshaun Prince tied his career high with 26 points, set Monday
night at Phoenix, but managed only a 3-pointer in the fourth
quarter for Detroit, which lost its second straight after winning
six in a row.

Desmond Mason's two free throws gave Milwaukee an 87-86 lead
with 49 seconds left.

After Ben Wallace missed a short shot at the other end, the
Bucks lost the handle on the ball but it touched Hamilton while
going out of bounds, giving Milwaukee possession with 11.3 seconds
remaining and the shot clock off.

Billups fouled Michael Redd, who sank his first free throw but
his second rang out and the Pistons called timeout with 10.2
seconds left, trailing 88-86.

Rasheed Wallace missed a 3-pointer and James was fouled by
Billups. James missed his first shot, made his second and the
Pistons had one more chance to send it into overtime after a
timeout with 1.2 seconds left.

Prince found Hamilton on the far side, but his off-balance
jumper hit the rim.

Game notes
The Pistons acquired point guard Carlos Arroyo from
Utah on Friday in a trade that sent center Elden Campbell and a
first-round pick after 2006 to the Jazz -- a move they probably
wouldn't have had to make had they kept James. ... The Bucks, last
in the Central Division, improved to 5-0 against division opponents
at the Bradley Center this season. ... Milwaukee coach Terry Porter
said F Keith Van Horn will continue to be limited to 15 to 20
minutes a game on doctor's orders as he recovers from right ankle
tendinitis.