<
>

Pistons beat Heat behind Billups, defense

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons refused to let
Dwyane Wade beat them again.

In their first meeting since Wade scored Miami's final 17 points
in a two-point win on Feb. 12, the Pistons held him to a season-low
13 and rallied for an 82-73 victory Wednesday night.

"You never want to have a player that has so much confidence
against you that he thinks he can just take the game over at any
time," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "At least he's not going
to think he can walk on the floor and score 17 straight on us."

Wade was just 3-of-15 from the floor.

"I missed some shots that I normally make, and they really
pressured me," he said. "It was tough, but when we play them
again in April, we'll have some counters for what they were doing
tonight."

Shaquille O'Neal (thumb) returned to the Miami lineup after
sitting out Tuesday's loss in Minnesota, but the Heat lost his
backup, Alonzo Mourning, in the second quarter. As a result, O'Neal
played a season-high 43 minutes, scoring 27 points.

"We played pretty well, but we had a letdown in the last five
or six minutes," O'Neal said. "It wasn't really anything they did
-- we just made a lot of mistakes and they capitalized."

Mourning left the arena with a boot on his right leg after
sustaining what the Heat believe is a torn calf muscle.

"I don't know the exact prognosis, but it's not very good,"
Miami coach Pat Riley said. "There's a reason we didn't trade
Michael Doleac, and that's because of this exact possibility. He's
going to have to step up."

O'Neal has averaged only 30 minutes a game this season, thanks
to Mourning, but knows that number is about to go up.

"It's going to be very tough without him," he said. "But
Dolie will step up and 'Zo can get some rest and come back
strong."

Detroit has won 16 straight at home, five short of the team
record. The Pistons also clinched the outright Central Division
title, and reduced their magic number for the East title to six
over Miami.

"This wasn't any kind of statement -- you make statements in the
playoffs," Rasheed Wallace said. "This was just playing a game
against a very good team."

Miami led 64-62 with 8 minutes to play, but Antonio McDyess and
Tayshaun Prince combined for 10 points in less than 3 minutes to
put Detroit ahead 72-66 with 4:49 to go.

Chauncey Billups led the Pistons with 24 points, while Richard
Hamilton and Prince each scored 17 and Ben Wallace and Rasheed
Wallace combined for 20 rebounds.

"Both teams wanted to win this game in the worst way," Billups
said. "It was kind of an ugly game, but the intensity was there.
This was a playoff game. It really was."

Antoine Walker added 15 points for the Heat.

The Heat held Detroit to a season-low 35 points in the first
half, and took an eight-point lead into intermission. The Pistons
shot just 31 percent in the half, including a 1-for-11 performance
from the bench.

"We just couldn't make a shot," Rasheed Wallace said. "We had
to buckle down and play some defense."

Detroit trailed by as many as 12 early in the second half, but
3-pointers by Hamilton and Billups keyed an 17-5 run that tied the
game at 54.

Wade put Miami back in front with a jumper, but another
3-pointer by Hamilton gave Detroit its first lead since the first
quarter. The Pistons led 60-59 at the end of the third.
Game notes
The Pistons became the only NBA team since 1980 to start the
same lineup -- Prince, Billups, Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed
Wallace -- in the first 67 games of a season. The 2002-03 Golden
State Warriors started the same lineup in their first 66 games. ...
The Pistons have not lost a regular-season home game in regulation
since March 28, 2005, against Dallas. ... Miami's 73 points were a
season low.