Pistons Drop 5th Straight

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Chris Paul didn't have a great game against Cleveland on Friday night.
He made up for it against another traditional Eastern Conference powerhouse 24 hours later.
Paul had 23 points and 14 assists to help the New Orleans Hornets hand the Detroit Pistons their fifth straight loss, 91-85 on Saturday night.
"We defended, we ran, and we got some transition baskets," Paul said. "That's when we are at our best. This is only the second time in my four years in the league that we've beaten Detroit, so I'll take it."
David West added 20 points for the Hornets, who had six players in double figures. Tyson Chandler finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, winning the praise of New Orleans coach Byron Scott.
"I really thought he was the catalyst," Scott said. "He hit the boards and he was running the floor and putting pressure on them."
Richard Hamilton led the Pistons with 20 points, but couldn't keep the Pistons from their longest losing streak since just before they acquired Rasheed Wallace in 2004.
"This is a different team than the one that had that long run together," Pistons coach Michael Curry said. "There are some of the same faces out there, but this is a different group."
Detroit, with Tayshaun Prince and Hamilton already playing at less than 100 percent, got a scare when Allen Iverson hurt his knee in the third period.
Iverson stole an inbounds pass, but landed awkwardly after his layup was blocked by Rasual Butler. Iverson was helped off the court by the Pistons' training staff, but returned to start the fourth quarter.
"I don't think I've ever hit the floor that hard on my knee," Iverson said. "We'll see how it feels tomorrow, but right now I have no idea how I'll be."
The knee wasn't the foremost thing on Iverson's mind after the game, though, as he thought back to Detroit's recent seven-game winning streak.
"We've got to get back to what we were doing when we won all those games in a row," Iverson said. "It doesn't matter that we played hard tonight -- we're paid to play hard every night. It doesn't make me happy when we play hard. Am I frustrated? Is there something beyond frustrated? That's where I am."
To make things worse, Prince aggravated his strained groin, and also is a question mark for Monday's game in Memphis.
Two of the league's lowest-tempo offenses combined for a low-scoring first half, with New Orleans holding a 39-37 advantage behind eight points and seven assists from Paul.
Rasheed Wallace hit back-to-back 3-pointers to pull the Pistons even midway through the third quarter, and the Pistons led by a point going into the fourth.
The Hornets, scored the first nine points of the period to take their biggest lead of the game, but Detroit came back to tie the game at 79.
With the game still tied, Iverson made a huge mental mistake when he was called for an 8-second violation even though he wasn't being pressured by New Orleans.
"I don't think I've ever been called for that before," he said. "Never."
Paul answered with a bank-shot jumper at the shot-clock buzzer, and James Posey's runner made it 85-81 with 90 seconds left.
Paul iced the game with a driving layup to make it 89-84 with 26 seconds to go.
"Going into Dallas, Cleveland and Detroit, if you win two of those three, you'll take it every time," Chandler said. "Those are tough games, and we came back two and one."


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