<
>

Billups sparks Detroit's fourth-quarter surge

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Chauncey Billups made the steal, hit the
layup, drew the foul and converted the three-point play. Less than
a minute later, he hit a double-clutch, 25-foot 3-pointer at the
shot clock buzzer.

Suddenly, a one-point lead was seven late in the fourth quarter.
Billups broke open a tight game, scoring 11 of his 28 in the final
5:10 Tuesday night as the Detroit Pistons beat the Washington
Wizards 105-96.

"In the end, Chauncey Billups is one of the best big-game
shooters in the league," Washington's Antawn Jamison said.

Tayshaun Prince added 25 points, Richard Hamilton scored 23, and
Rasheed Wallace had 18 points and 12 rebounds as the Pistons won
their fourth straight and beat the Wizards for the eighth straight
time on the road. Detroit had three 20-point scorers for the first
time this season.

"We're trying to get a little string of wins going, just trying
to be consistent and get back to where we were," said Ben Wallace,
who had nine rebounds and three of Detroit's 10 blocks. "In order
to do that, we have to come out and find ways to win games
regardless of who we're playing and what their motive is."

Billups also had nine assists and five rebounds, but his biggest
contribution might have been his defensive job against Gilbert
Arenas, whose five-game streak of 30-plus points came to an end.

Arenas, who scored 21, was often denied the ball and wasn't able
to penetrate when he had it -- he took just four free throws -- and
his 3-for-11 performance from 3-point range failed to compensate.

"I know they've got some great guards on their team that are
going to be aggressive, and I just want to try to be aggressive,
too," Billups said, "and make those guys work so they don't have
so much energy coming late down the stretch."

The usually talkative Arenas, who finished with 21 points, left
the locker room quickly without comment.

"Everybody is going to have that same tactic to prevent Gilbert
from going crazy," Jamison said. "But these are the world
champions. They know have to clamp down defensively. They know how
to take things away."

Jamison scored 26 points to lead the Wizards, who have lost
three straight following a four-game winning streak. They are 4-5
since guard Larry Hughes broke his thumb.

"There are no panic buttons being pushed," Washington coach
Eddie Jordan said. "It is a fact of the NBA -- (a losing streak) is
going to happen for most teams. We always say we have to bounce
back."

The game had 13 ties, the final time at 85-all with 5:52
remaining. The Wizards didn't score again for two minutes while
Billups made the big plays that put Detroit in control.

Defensive prowess was fully on display for both teams. They
combined for 19 steals and 16 blocks, although Detroit's defense
was stronger down the stretch.

"It was fun, man, to get a couple of blocked shots," said
Hamilton, whose career-high three blocks doubled his total for the
entire season, "because people don't believe that I block
shots."

Game notes
Detroit coach Larry Brown, who spent the last two days
clarifying that he wasn't interested in the New York Knicks
coaching job, made it immediately clear he wouldn't be a candidate
if Rudy Tomjanovich leaves the Los Angeles Lakers. Brown again
called the Pistons his "last job" as a professional coach and
called "an embarrassment" the speculation that followed his
comment last week that coaching the Knicks had been his "dream
job." ... For the first time, the Wizards lost a game in which
Jared Jeffries (11 points) scored in double figures. Washington had
been 11-0 when he scored 10 or more. ... Wizards center Brendan
Haywood fouled out with 4:54 to play.