After losing the opener of a six-game road trip in Chicago on Tuesday, the Lakers were trying to bounce back at the Palace of Auburn Hills, where they had won nine straight visits since Dec. 20, 1991. They also had won nine consecutive overall meetings with the Pistons dating to Feb. 18, 1997.
"We've just been really looking forward to this game," Billups said. "The whole city has been looking forward to this, all the fans. We knew how big this game was and how much it meant. We stepped up to the challenge. It's a huge win for the city, for the fans, for us. It's a huge confidence booster."
"Too much Billups tonight," said Lakers Coach Phil Jackson. "He made me want to throw up. We just didn't help our teammates out at all on high screen rolls, and he was able to break through and really create a big game for himself and for the team."
Los Angeles had an 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter, but Detroit scored 31 points in the second period and dominated the game's final 14 minutes.
The game was tied at 68-68 late in the third quarter before the Pistons exploded with an 18-3 run. Billups scored the first six points of the fourth quarter and capped the burst with a layup for an 86-71 cushion.
Ben Wallace collected 10 points and 21 rebounds for Detroit, which has won three straight following a season-high seven-game losing streak.
"I said all along if we come out and play with that type of energy, that type of intensity, that I know this team is capable of playing with, I know we can play with anybody," Wallace said. "We're capable of beating anybody on any given day."
O'Neal had 24 points and 13 rebounds and Kobe Bryant scored 21 points for the Lakers, who have lost consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 14-16.
"They played a little bit better and we made a lot of silly mistakes," O'Neal said. "They played a little bit harder down the stretch than we did. We still had a couple of chances to win, but Detroit got all the loose balls and played with a lot more energy."
Billups made 12-of-20 shots, including 4-of-7 three-pointers, and reserve Corliss Williamson scored 17 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Detroit shot 52 percent (39-of-76), and got 50 points from its bench.
Los Angeles, which has lost consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 14-16 after Tuesday night's loss to Chicago, shot just 44 percent (36-of-81), and committed 21 turnovers, leading to 28 points for Detroit.
The Lakers' Kobe Bryant was held to 21 points on just 9-of-23 shooting, and attempted only one free throw.