Final

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 1/10

Game 1: Tuesday, January 10th
Pistons96Final
Hornets86
Game 2: Tuesday, April 4th
Hornets93Final
Pistons101

Pistons 96

(27-5, 13-3 away)

Hornets 86

(15-19, 10-7 home)

Coverage: COX

7:00 PM ET, January 10, 2006

Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK

1 2 3 4 T
DET 24 18 32 2296
NO 25 20 19 2286

Top Performers

Detroit: R. Hamilton 30 Pts, 5 Reb, 3 Ast

NO/Oklahoma City : D. West 20 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk

Paul's return no match for Hamilton, Pistons in OT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons know they can always rely on their defense when they find themselves in close games.

"We told ourselves to turn it up and get a couple of stops to take over the game," Rasheed Wallace said.

That's what the Pistons did in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, breaking open a tight game with a 12-0 run en route to a 96-86 win over the New Orleans Hornets.

Richard Hamilton scored 30 points, including 20 in the second half, and Chauncey Billups added 18 points for the Pistons, who improved their NBA-best record to 27-5 heading into a game Thursday at San Antonio -- the team that beat Detroit in last season's NBA Finals.

"After the second half started, we locked down and were a lot better defensively," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "Even though we got down, we didn't lose our aggressiveness. But we came down and ... scored three times on them. We just kept controlling it."

The Hornets lost their second straight game despite the unexpected return of rookie point guard Chris Paul, who started despite a torn ligament in his right hand.

The Hornets led 53-48 after a basket by Desmond Mason with 9:48 left in the third quarter, but Detroit scored the next nine points to take the lead for good.

Detroit scored the final eight points of the quarter, including consecutive 3-pointers by Tayshaun Prince and Carlos Arroyo, to go ahead 74-64.

New Orleans closed within 80-79 with 6:20 left, but the 12-0 run, capped by 3-pointers by Billups and Wallace, extended the Pistons' margin to 13 points by the 3:40 mark. The Hornets came no closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

"That's just a very good basketball team," Hornets coach Byron Scott said of the Pistons. "They come with their hard hats on every night. They're not going to make a lot of mistakes."

Wallace knew the game was over after his final 3-pointer.

"Oh, I just said, 'Wrap it up," he said. "You know, just start the bus."

Hamilton, the Pistons' leading scorer, has scored 30 or more points five times this season. Before Tuesday, he hadn't done so since Dec. 14 against Sacramento.

Paul tore the ligament on the inside of his right thumb Friday during a win over Portland and missed the Hornets' next game, a 101-93 loss at Atlanta on Saturday. The team expected him to miss two weeks.

But Paul participated in the Hornets' shootaround at the Ford Center on Tuesday morning and Scott made the decision to play Paul afterward. Scott said doctors told him that Paul couldn't damage the thumb any further by playing.

"He's just a very competitive young man who wants to play," Scott said before the game.

The Hornets' first-round draft pick, Paul entered the game averaging 16.3 points, 7.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game, all tops among NBA rookies, and 5.8 rebounds. He had 13 points and five assists in 34 minutes against Detroit.

"I kind of marvel at the young man," Scott said.

David West scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half as the Hornets took a 45-42 halftime lead.

The lead swapped hands nine times in the first half and neither team led by more than six points, that when the Hornets went up 34-28 on consecutive dunks by Chris Andersen early in the second quarter.

Speedy Claxton added 18 points for the Hornets.

Game notes


The crowd of 19,260 at the Ford Center gave the Hornets their ninth sellout in 17 home games, which includes one game played in Baton Rouge, La. It was the fifth time this season the Hornets have drawn a standing room only crowd in Oklahoma City. ... Arroyo was ejected with 7:43 left after bumping an official while protesting a foul call. Arroyo had picked up his sixth personal foul moments earlier while trying to block a shot by Claxton .... The Hornets failed in their bid to record their sixth win of the season over a division leader. New Orleans has beaten Miami, San Antonio, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Phoenix this season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
DET
NO
Points 96 86
FGM-FGA 37-72 (.514) 34-75 (.453)
3PM-3PA 7-17 (.412) 4-7 (.571)
FTM-FTA 15-19 (.789) 14-16 (.875)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-35 12-39
Assists 26 15
Turnovers 11 14
Steals 8 5
Blocks 6 3
Fast Break Points 14 8
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (1/0) 17 (0/0)
Largest Lead 13 6

Top Performers

Detroit
No/oklahoma City
Richard Hamilton Hamilton
Points: 30
Reb: 5
Ast: 3
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
David West West
Points: 20
Reb: 6
Ast: 1
Stl: 0
Blk: 1