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Detroit's balance too much for Atlanta

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons weren't about to
let the Atlanta Hawks surprise them again.

Less than two months after a lopsided home loss to the hapless
Hawks, the Pistons fell behind early again, but rallied to rout
Atlanta 99-84 on Wednesday night.

"The start reminded me a lot of the last time," Pistons coach
Larry Brown said. "This time, we finished things a little
better."

Chauncey Billups scored 27 points to help the Pistons to their
fifth straight victory.

"We struggled at the start, but once we got warmed up, it
turned the game around," he said. "We took control and kept
control."

Billups had 28 in Detroit's victory Tuesday night in Washington.

"This team makes that easy," he said. "When someone gets
going, everyone feeds them."

The NBA Finals MVP only scored eight points in the teams' first
meeting in Detroit, the Hawks' 88-72 victory on Dec. 10.

"Last time we played here, Chauncey struggled," said Atlanta
coach Mike Woodson, an assistant to Brown on last year's title
team. "Tonight he made it a point to come out and really establish
himself."

Richard Hamilton had 21 points, Tayshaun Prince added 17, and
Antonio McDyess had 12 off the bench for Detroit, while Ben Wallace
finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

"It all starts with solid defense," Wallace said. "When we
got rolling on defense, everyone gets involved on offense."

Tony Delk led Atlanta with 20, two short of his season best, and
Al Harrington and Antoine Walker added 13 each in Atlanta's fifth
loss in six games.

"We beat ourselves tonight," Walker said. "We had so many
opportunities where we did not score the basketball, and it is
tough to try and beat a team like Detroit like that."

Atlanta led for most of the first half, but the defending NBA
champion Pistons scored the last 17 points to take a 49-40 lead.
The Hawks didn't score in the final 6:32 of the half.

"They turned the defense up and took away what we were doing,"
Tyronn Lue said. "We thought we had the game under control, but
it's hard to score against that half-court defense. That's what
they do best."

Billups had 10 points and Prince added five during the run.

"Chauncey was terrific, but we had a lot of guys doing good
things," Brown said. "We started defending better in the second
quarter, and we were able to get out and run. That's something that
I've wanted to do since I got here -- I can't imagine any team has
three more athletic big guys than Antonio and the Wallaces."

Detroit continued to pull away through most of the third,
leading by as many as 17 and taking a 71-57 edge into the final
period. Atlanta was never able to get the margin back to single
digits in the fourth.

Game notes
The Hawks placed Josh Smith (ankle) on the injured list
before the game and activated Donta Smith. ... The Pistons didn't
commit their first foul until the final 3 seconds of the opening
quarter. ... Detroit's Rasheed Wallace and Atlanta coach Mike
Woodson both picked up technicals for arguing calls. ... Detroit's
Darko Milicic played the final 4 minutes, but did not score.