Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 1/18

Game 1: Wednesday, January 18th
Game 2: Tuesday, February 7th
Game 3: Tuesday, February 21st
Game 4: Monday, March 20th

Pistons 117

(31-5, 15-3 away)

Hawks 89

(10-27, 7-11 home)

Coverage: WDWB

7:00 PM ET, January 18, 2006

Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

1 2 3 4 T
DET 18 41 23 35117
ATL 19 21 20 2989

Top Performers

Det: C. Billups 23 Pts, 2 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl

Atl: A. Harrington 21 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast

NBA's best (Pistons) rout NBA's worst (Hawks)

ATLANTA (AP) -- The NBA's best and worst teams followed the script perfectly.

Chauncey Billups scored 23 points, Richard Hamilton added 21 and the Detroit Pistons extended their winning streak to five in a row, routing the hapless Atlanta Hawks 117-89 Wednesday night.

Ben Wallace handled the dirty work with 18 rebounds and six blocks. Led by Maurice Evans, Detroit got a boost from its bench in the decisive second quarter.

"The good teams in this league are the ones that can bring it every night," Wallace said. "We've done a good job of doing that this season."

No kidding. The Pistons boosted the NBA's best record to 31-5, and all five victories in their latest winning streak have been by double figures.

At the opposite end of the spectrum: Atlanta fell to 10-27, already 21½ games behind the Pistons in the Eastern Conference.

Detroit got off to a rocky start, missing 11 of its first 16 shots. The Hawks were even worse, starting out 1-of-11, but still managed to claim a 19-18 lead at the end of the ugly quarter.

"I know we tightened up the screws a little bit, and got more serious about the game, after the first quarter," Billups said. "When we did that, we kind of imposed our will on the game."

The Pistons' bench helped turn things around in the second period, with Evans scoring 12 of his 14 points and Antonio McDyess chipping in with eight. Three of Detroit's backups finished in double figures.

"The bench was big for us," Wallace said. "They came in the game and gave us a lot of energy. They got the wheels turning, and we got some easy baskets."

The Pistons made a staggering 16 of 22 shots in the period, scoring at will against Atlanta's feeble defensive effort. Evans hit a 3-pointer that gave Detroit its first double-digit lead, 42-32, and finished off the quarter with a barely contested reverse lay-in with one-tenth of a second remaining for a commanding 59-40 advantage.

"It's very important to get the bench in there and gives the stars a blow," Evans said, "especially when we're playing a back-to-back."

The Pistons travel to New York on Thursday to face the Knicks.

Everyone got in on the act. Carlos Arroyo left his defender behind with a wicked crossover dribble before dishing the ball to Wallace, who found Tayshaun Prince lingering all by himself at the 3-point line. The jumper hit nothing but net, of course.

Billups, who connected on four 3-pointers, offered some encouragement to the lowly Hawks.

"I've been there. It's tough," he said. "But they've got some great young guys. That's the bottom line. They're going to be great if they can just keep it together."

Al Harrington had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who were buried by Detroit's 41-point second period.

"Our plan was to limit their bench," Harrington said. "If you give up 40 points in any one quarter, you're going to lose the game."

Detroit shot 54 percent and equaled its highest-scoring game of the year, a 117-84 victory over Toronto in November.

The Pistons kept up the pressure in the final minutes, alternating between rim-rocking dunks and open 3s that stretched the margin to as much as 31 points. Darko Milicic, the Pistons' seldom-used first-round pick from 2003, entered the game late to mock cheers, making his first appearance in four games and only the 20th of the season.

"We ran some things we hadn't run in a while, just to dust them off a little bit and do them in a game-type situation," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said.

Game notes

Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson sat courtside with a former teammate, catcher Johnny Estrada, who was traded to Arizona last month. ... The Hawks played their third straight game without G Tyronn Lue, sidelined with a strained back. Atlanta also was missing little-used C John Edwards, out because of lower back pain. ... Wallace reached a couple of career milestones. The first rebound of the night gave him 7,000 overall. He also passed 1,500 blocks in his career. ... Hawks G Salim Stoudamire missed his first free throw of the season at Philips Arena. The rookie had made 30 in a row. ... Atlanta has lost six straight home games to the Pistons, last beating them at Philips Arena on Dec. 7, 2002.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 117 89
FGM-FGA 45-83 (.542) 30-88 (.341)
3PM-3PA 12-23 (.522) 4-13 (.308)
FTM-FTA 15-22 (.682) 25-30 (.833)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 15-48 19-43
Assists 32 19
Turnovers 13 8
Steals 4 5
Blocks 11 4
Fast Break Points 13 18
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (0/0) 14 (1/0)
Largest Lead 31 3

Top Performers

Chauncey Billups Billups
Points: 23
Reb: 2
Ast: 4
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Al Harrington Harrington
Points: 21
Reb: 10
Ast: 3
Stl: 0
Blk: 0