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Pistons Defeat the Heat

From the Associated Press

Chauncey Billups scored 30 points and Richard Hamilton had 25 points and a season-high nine assists Thursday night at Auburn Hills, Mich., to lead the Detroit Pistons past the Miami Heat, 106-101, in a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference finals.

In their first meeting since the Pistons won at Miami in Game 7 of the series, Detroit made clutch shots and key defensive plays in the final minutes to pull away.

“We’ve been together so long and in so many tough situations, we never get rattled,” Billups said. “Somebody is always coming up big down the stretch.”

The Pistons have had the same starting five for nearly two years, a span that includes one NBA title and falling just short of a repeat, and four of their starters have been together for three long playoff runs.

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Miami added players through free agency and trades in the off-season, and Pat Riley replaced Stan Van Gundy as coach earlier this month.

The Pistons are an NBA-best 24-3, with a 27-game record that trails just two teams in NBA history. The 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers and the 1969-70 New York Knicks started 25-2, and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls were 24-3.

San Antonio 111, New Orleans 84 -- Michael Finley scored 18 points and the Spurs shut down the Hornets at San Antonio. The Spur lead grew to as many as 32 points before both teams emptied their benches.

Seattle 112, Denver 105 -- Ray Allen scored a season-high 39 points and Rashard Lewis added 27 for the SuperSonics at Denver. The Nuggets got 32 points from Carmelo Anthony, but Seattle held him to two free throws in the final 18 minutes. Denver was without forward Marcus Camby, who underwent surgery on his broken right pinkie and is out at least one week.

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Seattle forward Danny Fortson was suspended for two games without pay for berating a referee and failing to promptly leave the court after an ejection.... Yao Ming and Kobe Bryant led the Western Conference while Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James topped the Eastern Conference after two rounds of voting for the All-Star game.


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