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Detroit 113, Philadelphia 85

March 21, 2003 at 1:57 AM   |   Comments

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., March 20 (UPI) -- Chauncey Billups scored 16 of his 29 points in the first quarter and Ben Wallace dominated on defense Thursday night as the Detroit Pistons trounced the Philadelphia 76ers, 113-85, in a meeting of division leaders.

The Pistons controlled the game on both ends of the floor. Their trademark defense ended Allen Iverson's double-figure scoring streak at 186 games. On offense, they made 12 of 23 three-pointers to demoralize the 76ers.

Billups had a lot to do with the Pistons' quick start, making a pair of three-pointers and a three-point play in the first period. Overall, he made 9-of-13 shots, including 6-of-8 from the arc.

"Scoring is not my main objective," Billups said. "I'm looking to just run the team, but I'll take shots, and if I get it going, I'm going to stay aggressive."

Philadelphia came in having won 15 of 17 games since the All-Star break, the best record in the NBA during that span. The surge moved the Sixers to the top of the Atlantic Division, percentage points ahead of the New Jersey Nets.

Next in their sights were the Pistons, who had recovered nicely from a seven-game slide, winning five of six to maintain first place in the Central Division. But Detroit wasted no time asserting itself, racing to a 29-16 lead and pouring it on thereafter.

Billups had a lot to do with the quick start, making a pair of three-pointers and a three-point play in the first period. Overall, he made nine of 13 shots, including six of eight from beyond the arc.

Wallace was a terror. He had seven of his nine blocked shots in the first half, during which Detroit opened a 56-35 lead. He also pulled down 22 rebounds, his fifth straight game with 20 or more.

"You've got to give him a lot of credit because he was the reason, in a way, that we struggled offensively, 'cause we were unable to get to the hoop and we were unable to get to the line," said Sixers forward Keith Van Horn.

Wallace, the 2002 Defensive Player of the Year, backstopped a defense that cooled off the red-hot Iverson. The three-time scoring champion had eclipsed 30 points in seven of his previous eight games, but managed just five Thursday night.

"We're on top and there is nothing about this league that surprises us," Wallace said. "You have to come ready to play every night and we came ready to play."

Perhaps bothered by a sore left thumb, Iverson was held to single digits for the first time since Nov. 22 2000 at Charlotte.

"It was just a frustrating night," he said. "I think that was one of the worst basketball experiences I ever had, especially from a personal standpoint, and from how I played tonight. It was just one that I'm just ready to get out of my system."

"We played one of our best games and obviously Philly didn't play one of theirs," said Detroit Coach Rick Carlisle. "We got a lift from our bench. I thought that everybody that played, played well."

Detroit native Derrick Coleman had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Sixers, who fell one-half game behind New Jersey in the Atlantic Division. The Sixers shot 43 percent (35-of-82), including just 1-of-5 from the arc.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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