Pistons Remain Unbeaten

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons expected Jason Maxiell to provide an undersized post presence off the bench.
They didn't know that Jarvis Hayes was going to do the same thing.
Maxiell and Hayes combined for 23 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, to help the Pistons rally for a 92-91 victory over the Atlanta Hawks Sunday night.
"Our bench was great tonight," said Chauncey Billups, who hit the game-winning free throw with 1.7 seconds left. "Jarvis was hitting shots and Max was doing everything. He's our energizer."
Hayes was known as a jump shooter in Washington, but has shown a surprising inside game since joining the Pistons as a free agent.
"I had to pull something out of my bag of tricks to make it here," he said. "I knew I could do this."
Maxiell finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and four blocks on a night when the Pistons only had two starters in double figures. Billups finished with 22 points and Richard Hamilton added 21 in his season debut. But Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess combined for just 20 points on 7-for-23 shooting.
"This was Rip's first game, and he's got so much energy that I think we got discombobulated trying to keep up with him," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "He was great, but he missed the last four preseason games and the first two of the regular season, so we had to get used to his energy again."
Atlanta led by nine points entering the fourth, but trailed by seven with a minute to play before rallying to tie the game.
"That's the best team in the East we played tonight, and we hung in there," Atlanta coach and former Pistons assistant Mike Woodson said. "We'll bounce back, but tonight they made the plays down the stretch and we didn't."
Two 3-pointers by Joe Johnson pulled the Hawks to 89-88 with 40 seconds to go, but Hayes grabbed a key offensive rebound and Billups made it a 3-point game from the line.
Rasheed Wallace then fouled Josh Smith on a desperate 3-point attempt, and Smith hit all three free throws to make it 91-all with 7.7 seconds left.
Billups was fouled by Marvin Williams on a drive to the basket and hit the first free throw. He missed the second, but Atlanta couldn't get a shot off before the buzzer.
"This was tough, because we fought so hard," said Johnson, who led the Hawks with 23. "We were up, but they turned up the pressure and got back in the game. We had a chance, and it was a tough call at the end."
The Hawks took a 48-45 lead on Williams' long 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer. Williams had 13 of his 22 points in the half, while Hamilton scored 14 for Detroit.
Atlanta expanded its edge to 69-60 in the third period, thanks to an eight-point quarter by Johnson.
The Pistons cut the deficit to 73-72 in the first four minutes of the fourth, and the teams traded baskets until Billups put Detroit ahead 78-77 with a fast-break layup with 5:51 to go.
Wallace followed with a jumper as the shot clock expired, but Hamilton fouled out with 4:12 to go.
"Our bench got us back in the game in the fourth quarter, and that let our starters relax," Saunders said. "They were able to get their composure, come back in and finish off the game."


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