AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The undermanned Los Angeles Clippers
could do little more than watch as the Detroit Pistons celebrated
coach Larry Brown's return to the bench by securing a playoff
Tayshaun Prince scored 23 points in Brown's first game back in
three weeks, and Detroit beat the Clippers 97-84 Friday night. The
victory, combined with Orlando's loss to the Washington Wizards,
was enough for the Pistons to clinch a playoff berth for the fourth
"We got the win, and the way things are going, that's a good
thing," Brown said. "The Clippers played pretty darn good without
a lot of their guys."
Brown was back on the bench after missing 10 games because of
complications from surgery in early March related to his hip
surgery in November. Detroit went 6-4 with Gar Heard directing the
team in place of Brown.
"It was great to have him back," Chauncey Billups said. "We
needed him out there giving us instruction and teaching."
"We wanted to steal one tonight, but we had a lot of really
good players sitting on the bench," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy
said. "We had a great effort, but we just turned it over too much,
and with Detroit's speed and quickness, they killed us on the
Richard Hamilton added 14 points, a season-high 11 assists and
eight rebounds for Detroit, which had six players in double
figures. Hamilton also had six turnovers, including four in the
first five minutes of the game.
"We were teasing Rip about going for a triple-double," Brown
said. "We just didn't know if it was going to be rebounds or
Marco Jaric led the Clippers with 24 points, one short of his
career high, and Elton Brand added 22 points and 11 rebounds. Brand
almost ended up on the lengthy Los Angeles injury list, but was not
hurt in a dangerous-looking flip over Ben Wallace's back.
"That was a scary situation," Brand said. "We'll have to see
how I feel in the morning."
Detroit led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter, but
the Clippers closed to 45-42 at the break.
The Pistons threatened to pull away throughout the third period,
but couldn't put Los Angeles away.
Rasheed Wallace hit a 3-pointer in the last minute of the
quarter, and Prince added a free throw to put Detroit up 74-65 with
12 minutes to play.
The undermanned Clippers, missing their leading scorer in
Maggette, never made a serious run in the fourth.
"We knew we had a chance," Brand said. "But those are the
world champs and they did what they needed to do."
Hamilton missed nine of his 10 first-half shots, then went
4-for-5 in the second half. ... Rick Brunson, who started in place
of Maggette, picked up a third-quarter technical for arguing a
call. ... Detroit's Lindsey Hunter hit his 1,000th career 3-pointer
late in the third quarter. ... The Palace played the Michigan State
fight song during a timeout to honor the Spartans men's and women's
Final Four basketball teams. ... The Pistons have beaten the
Clippers five straight times.