Pistons Down New Jersey 101-83

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons aren't waiting for the fourth quarter to put teams away. They're doing it in the third.
Richard Hamilton scored 22 points and the Pistons shot 78 percent in the third quarter in beating the New Jersey Nets 101-83 on Wednesday night for their sixth straight victory.
"The third quarter is always an important quarter and we always want to play well in the third quarter," Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups said. "For any team, it's important to play well then. We knew what we had to do after halftime."
Billups scored eight of his 17 points and handed out four of his 10 assists in the quarter in helping the Pistons turn a one-point halftime lead into a 14-point laugher.
Hamilton was just as important, hitting all five of his shots as the Pistons connected on 14 of 18 from the field.
"I think we got into a good rhythm in the third quarter," Hamilton said. "Chauncey did a good job of getting us the ball and moving the ball around. We got some good shots, some easy baskets and we just caught a good rhythm. We knocked them down."
This marked the third straight game Detroit came out after halftime and took command. They outscored Houston 27-16 on Sunday in a 94-82 win and outscored Memphis 26-16 on Friday in a 94-67 blowout. The Pistons outscored New Jersey 31-18 on Wednesday night in the third quarter.
"We've always been a good third-quarter team," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We made some adjustments at halftime to gain control in that third quarter. We shot the ball very well in that quarter and once we took control, we were able to bring it home."
Antonio McDyess had 15 points and nine rebounds for Detroit, which has won 13 of 15. Rasheed Wallace added 13 points for the Pistons, who were 24-of-37 from the field in the second half.
It marked the seventh straight game the Pistons have held their opponent under 90 points.
"We got to keep rolling now," Wallace said after the Pistons played for the first time in three days. "We can't let up. We played pretty good tonight and I think some of us were anxious to play again because we had been playing good."
Vince Carter led the Nets with 21 points, only six in the second half when New Jersey was limited to 39 points on 12-of-32 shooting. Jason Kidd had a game-high 13 assists but missed all eight of his shots from the field. Richard Jefferson added 18 points.
"They turned it up and we didn't match the intensity and level they brought in the second half," said Carter, who was limited to five shots in the second half. "They just made it tough for us."
The Pistons, who hit their first six shots of the game, came out even hotter in the second half, making their first seven.
Unlike the first half when they struggled after the fast start, the Pistons just kept pouring it on in the third quarter.
After the teams exchanged two baskets at the start of the half, Billups hit a layup to ignite an 11-0 run that featured three baskets by Wallace, the last a rim-hanging dunk on a fast break.
Hamilton, who also had a basket in the run, added three sweet jumpers and a layup in pushing the lead to as many as 16 points in the quarter.
New Jersey never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
The Pistons, who shot nearly 65 percent in the second half, struggled after their opening flurry. However, their defense was the key to getting back into the game just before halftime.
Down 42-36, Billups hit two of three free throws to spark a 9-2 run in the closing minutes of the half. Hamilton added a jumper, Jason Maxiell had a free throw and McDyess added two more after getting the rebound of Maxiell's second miss.
A driving layup by Billups with 4.5 seconds left gave Detroit the lead for good.
"That gave them the momentum to come back and take the lead," Kidd said. "But we still felt it was anybody's game if we could keep executing and getting the ball inside. We got wide-open looks, they just didn't go down for us."


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