Pistons Take Game 1 Over Chicago

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders said his team is totally different than it was at this time last year because of a renewed focus.
That's not good news for the Chicago Bulls.
Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton each scored 20 points, leading the Pistons to a 95-69 rout over Chicago in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday night.
The Pistons are still kicking themselves for losing to the Miami Heat in the conference finals last year -- after winning the title in 2004 and coming just short of repeating -- and vowed to show how determined they are to at least get back to the NBA finals.
If the Eastern Conference's top-seeded team keeps playing like they have been, they will have a shot.
Detroit was aggressive on defense, getting into passing lanes with their feet and hands, and balanced on offense.
The Pistons will host Game 2 on Monday night.
Chicago's Ben Gordon averaged 25.5 points and Andres Nocioni added 12 a game in the first-round sweep over the Heat, but were held to just seven and two points, respectively. Former Piston Ben Wallace had nine points, eight rebounds and a block.
Luol Deng scored 18 and Kirk Hinrich had 15 for the Bulls, who led only once in the series opener.
Detroit took control with a 13-2 run midway through the first quarter, but didn't put Chicago away until the opening minutes of the fourth.
Three Pistons made 3-pointers in the first 2 minutes of the final quarter for a 19-point lead before going ahead 86-60 a few minutes later.
The Pistons were more impressive Saturday than they were in any of the four wins over the Orlando Magic in the first round, picking up their play in their sixth straight second-round appearance.
Chicago, meanwhile, looked like a team that just won a playoff series for the first time since Michael Jordan led the Bulls to their sixth title in 1998.
Detroit's Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince each scored 13 and reserve Jason Maxiell added 12.
Billups was aggressive from the start, instead of deferring to teammates as he usually does early in games.
He went right at Gordon on Detroit's first three possessions, making two shots and a free throw. Gordon was called for his second foul 2 1/2 minutes into the game and didn't return until early in the second quarter, perhaps disrupting his rhythm after scoring at least 24 in each game against Miami.
Chris Duhon replaced Gordon, and was attacked immediately by Billups, whose 3-pointer gave him eight points less than 4 minutes into the game.
After Chicago took its only lead, the Pistons went on their big run to take a 20-11 lead midway through the first quarter.
Billups scored 12 points in the opening quarter, helping Detroit take a 29-23 lead.
He left the game in the final seconds of the first quarter with two fouls. By the time he returned late in the second, Chicago was shooting free throws down 16 in part because Detroit reserves scored 10 in the quarter.
Detroit led 54-41 at halftime.
Wallace opened the third and fourth quarters with 3-pointers, giving the Pistons 16-point leads each time.
Chicago coach Scott Skiles was clearly frustrated with his team, leading to him to yell, 'Know what we're doing! Let's go,' late in the third quarter.


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