Hamilton nets 30 as Pistons inch closer to 40-win mark

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The only frustrating part of the night for
Rasheed Wallace was filling all the ticket requests.

Once the hometown fans had their seats, Wallace and the rest of
the Pistons gave them their money's worth.

Richard Hamilton scored 30 points, Wallace added 20 and the
Detroit Pistons held on to beat the feisty, short-handed
Philadelphia 76ers 87-80 Friday night.

Wallace cooled after a strong first half, but hit a couple of
big baskets in the fourth, delighting the Philly fans who came to
cheer on the nearby Simon Gratz High graduate.

"I just try to satisfy everybody because I have friends and
family who don't get a chance to see me play in person," he said.
"I lost count (with the ticket requests)."

The 76ers played without Allen Iverson, who missed his fourth
straight game with injured ankles. Iverson, who has a sprained left
ankle and a bone bruise on his right ankle, was going to travel and
try to play Saturday night at Cleveland, Philadelphia coach Maurice
Cheeks said.

This one never had the feel of a tight game. Instead, most of
the fourth quarter was pretty much the Pistons pushing the lead to
double digits, having the Sixers answer with a couple of baskets,
then having the Pistons come right back.

While the Sixers scrapped and fought for loose balls and pumped
their fists when they thought they hit a big basket, Detroit never
seemed threatened.

"It's just veteran play," Wallace said. "We knew what we had
to do get a couple of shots, hit some big shots and do the things
we've been doing all season."

With a fourth-quarter lineup that included seldom-used Shavlik
Randolph and 19-year-old rookie Louis Williams, the Sixers never
let this one get away against the team with the NBA's best record.

Williams, who has suddenly seen some playing time in Iverson's
absence, hit a jumper that pulled the Sixers to 69-63 midway
through the fourth after they were down 13 at one point. Williams
was fouled on a fast break the next time down and sank one of two
free throws to make it a five-point game.

But the Sixers just couldn't overcome the savvy Pistons, who
have played in two straight NBA Finals. Wallace sank his first
basket of the second half to make it 81-71. Hamilton hit a baseline
jumper and Wallace added another baseline basket that gave the
Pistons an 85-75 lead.

A steal by Chris Webber briefly rallied the Sixers when it led
to Andre Iguodala's dunk -- one that won't win him any style points
in the NBA slam dunk contest -- but Ben Wallace's inbounds heave the
length of the court to Tayshaun Prince made it 87-80 and the fans
started filing for the exit.

"He throws the long pass. He didn't panic," Cheeks said.
"Those teams and guys like that understand about playing the game
and not hurrying."

Webber scored 17 points, Iguodala had 13 points, and Samuel
Dalembert finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Sixers,
who missed a chance to move into a tie for first place with New
Jersey in the Atlantic Division.

"I was looking in their huddle, they were laughing, joking,
they knew they were going to come out with the win," Salmons said.
"There's just that confidence of been there, done that. They know
how to win games. They're not worried."

Prince finished with 16 points and Chauncey Billups had 14
assists to help the Pistons win the first of a three-game road
trip, even if it wasn't their most inspired effort.

"When you play 82 games, it's tough to play at a super, super
level every game," coach Flip Saunders said.

Rasheed Wallace and Hamilton did the bulk of the scoring in the
first half, combining to go 14-for-23 from the floor for 30 points
to give the Pistons a 49-42 lead. The Pistons had assists on 17 of
their 21 baskets in the half.

Game notes
Ben Wallace feels the Pistons-Pacers game for Saturday is
missing some luster, not because Indiana traded brawl-instigator
Ron Artest, but because the Pacers are no longer among the Eastern
Conference elite. "Regardless of who's playing with who, when two
of the top teams come together in this league for the top spots
it's always going to be an exciting battle," he said. "Once you
lose that, you some of the edge. The game loses some of the
steam." ... The Sixers scored less than 100 points for the fourth
straight game and eighth time in the last 10.