Hamilton scores 24 as Detroit sidesteps Toronto's upset bid

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons forgot about
their win over San Antonio, and weren't looking ahead to Miami.

They simply improved the best record in the NBA with another
strong performance, despite playing the team with the worst mark in
the league.

Richard Hamilton scored 24, Chauncey Billups had 21 points and
13 assists, and Detroit beat the Toronto Raptors 113-106 Tuesday

"We're just trying to win all the games we're supposed to win,
and not play down to the level of the competition," Billups said.

The Pistons won their eighth straight to improve to an NBA-best
23-3, matching the sensational start Phoenix had last season -- one
win away from the best 26-game mark in league history.

Detroit's Rasheed Wallace insisted he's not impressed.

"Our ultimate goal is not to have the best record, but to win
that championship," he said.

Chris Bosh scored a career-high 37 points for the Raptors, who
fell to a league-worst 6-22.

"It is insignificant if you don't win the game," Bosh said.

The 6-foot-10, 235-pound center was 16-of-26 from the field,
5-of-9 from the line, grabbed 11 rebounds, made five assists and
blocked three shots.

"He's quick and he's got a nice outside shot," Rasheed Wallace
said. "He just needs to put a little more weight on."

Detroit, which never trailed, pulled away with a 21-6 run midway
through the second quarter and didn't have much trouble maintaining
a big lead. The Pistons had an 18-point lead after scoring a
season-high 63 points in the first half, avoiding a letdown after
playing the Spurs on Sunday and before hosting the Heat on

Detroit made 11 3-pointers and 32 assists.

"It's tough when that team, as good as they are inside, is
making 3s," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said.

Detroit's Tayshaun Prince scored 18, Rasheed Wallace added 16,
Antonio McDyess had 12 points and 11 rebounds -- his second straight
double-double -- and Maurice Evans finished with 13 points.

"(McDyess) has been like that the last week or two," Detroit
coach Flip Saunders said. "It takes him a little while to get into
his flow. I consider him one of the starters, and that's how he's

Ben Wallace was hit in the lip by McDyess' elbow late in the
third quarter and did not return, holding a towel over his mouth on
the bench. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year finished
with two points, seven rebounds, two blocks -- and five stitches.

"He should be OK, but we felt he'll take enough hits on
Thursday," said Saunders, referring to his matchup with Shaquille
O'Neal. "He could have played if we needed him."

Toronto reserves Charlie Villanueva (16), Jalen Rose (13) and
Jose Calderon (10) scored in double figures, and Morris Peterson
had 13 points.

After winning three of their previous four road games, Toronto
got off to a solid start. The Pistons led 32-29 following four ties
in the first quarter.

Detroit's decisive run in the second quarter gave it a 58-39
lead, and the Pistons were ahead 63-45 at halftime.

The Raptors pulled to 76-66 with 3:54 left in the third quarter,
but couldn't get any closer until the final minutes.

"Our mistakes were on hustle plays," Bosh said. "There were
three or four plays where they beat us to loose balls when we could
have cut into their lead. All we had to do is show some hustle, and
it could have been a huge turnaround.

"We beat ourselves."

Game Notes
The 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers and the 1969-70 New York
Knicks started 24-2, and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls were 23-3 before
winning 18 straight. ... Peterson played his 417th game with the
Raptors, tying Alvin Williams' franchise record, and his 306th
straight game, extending the NBA's longest active streak. ...
Bosh's previous career high was 33 points, last season against New
Orleans. ... The Raptors tied an NBA low with three turnovers.