AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Chauncey Billups had just one thing
on his mind after one of the best games of his career: What was the
deal with Ben Wallace's clunky red goggles?
"I don't know what that was -- he looked like Blankman,"
Billups said, referring to Damon Wayan's dorky superhero character
in the movie of the same name.
Billups scored 28 points and a career-high 19 assists in the
Detroit Pistons' 109-98 win over Sacramento Wednesday.
Wallace started the game wearing goggles, but ditched them
midway through the first quarter.
"I'm having problems with my vision, I didn't want to get poked
in the eye, it was doctor's orders," he said in a deadpan tone.
"I thought the goggles brought the team a lot of energy. We all
fed off the goggles."
Billups had a double-double in the first half -- 14 points and 11
assists -- and was almost as good in the final two quarters.
"We just had a great rhythm going," Billups said. "Everyone
was knocking down shots."
Pistons coach Flip Saunders thinks that Billups has to be
getting closer to his first All-Star appearance.
"When you look at the best point guard in each conference, it
is Steve Nash in the West and Chauncey in the East," he said.
"And he's probably the one guy in the league at that position who
gives you the complete package -- defending, getting guys the ball
Mike Bibby, who spent much of the night matched up with Billups,
"He's a hell of a player," he said. "I think he's underrated
-- he deserves a lot more credit than people give him. He's one of
the best in the league."
Many of Billups' assists, which beat Nash's 17 for the most
assists in the league this season, went to Richard Hamilton, who
finished with 36 points.
"With about three or four minutes left, Carlos (Arroyo) told me
that I had 17, and I knew that was my career high," he said. "So
I just started calling Rip's play over and over."
The Pistons improved to 16-3, tying the 1996-97 team for the
best start in franchise history.
The Kings (10-13) had their three-game winning streak snapped.
"Billups and Hamilton were great," Sacramento coach Rick
Adelman said. "We got back in the game at halftime, but we really
couldn't sustain it. Their guards were too good for us tonight."
Rasheed Wallace added 19 points for Detroit and Ben Wallace had
17 rebounds, 16 without the goggles.
The Pistons got off to a quick start, leading 36-23 with 1:37
left in the first, but then went nine minutes without a field goal.
That allowed the Kings to tie the game at 40, but Detroit's
starters returned and rallied the team to a 56-48 halftime lead.
Sacramento got as close as 67-66 early in the third, but dunks
from the Wallaces helped Detroit pull away.
The Pistons led 83-75 at quarter's end, then scored the first
nine points of the fourth to take a 17-point lead. Antonio McDyess
hit two jumpers and Billups added a 3-pointer.
Bonzi Wells picked up a third-quarter technical for
flipping the ball off Hamilton after fouling him. ... The crowd
began to chant "Fire Millen", referring to embattled Detroit
Lions president Matt Millen, as the Pistons pulled away in the
fourth. The chant has also been heard at recent Red Wings and
University of Michigan games. ... Isiah Thomas was the last Piston
with 19 assists, doing it against Orlando on Feb. 16, 1993.