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Pistons break down

Thursday, February 15, 2007
Spurs 90, Pistons 81

Pistons break down

Clarence Tabb, Jr./The Detroit News

Tim Duncan drives around Chris Webber en route to 23 points.

AUBURN HILLS -- Getaway day got away from the Pistons on Wednesday night.

"As a coach, you always worry about the last game before the (All-Star) break," coach Flip Saunders said after the San Antonio Spurs snapped the Pistons' seven-game winning streak, 90-81, at The Palace. "A lot of guys are planning to leave and you worry about being mentally sharp. We made mental mistakes all over the place."

The Spurs were supposed to be the sluggish team. They were playing the final game of an eight-game trip, and didn't get into Detroit until 3 a.m. after winning Tuesday night in New Jersey.

"Give them credit," Saunders said. "They controlled tempo and we couldn't mount any run that could change the flow of the game."

Tim Duncan scored 23 to lead the Spurs, who won at The Palace for the first time since April 6, 2003. Manu Ginobili added 20 and Francisco Elson posted a career-best 18 rebounds.

"They came in hungry after struggling a little bit on their trip," Chauncey Billups said. "We let them get into their sweet spots too often early and by the time we started fighting, we were in an uphill battle."

Billups, after missing his first four shots, finished with 19 points, and had a 3-pointer rim out with 58 seconds left that would have cut the lead to four.

Richard Hamilton led the Pistons with 20 points. He and Billups left for Las Vegas immediately after the game and will represent the Pistons in Sunday's All-Star Game.

"This is a game we wanted to get, we just came out a little sluggish early," Hamilton said.

A little sluggish?

The Pistons played their worst half in a long time, falling 17 points behind by halftime. The Pistons shot 31.6 percent, missing 10 layups in the half. They also turned the ball over seven times.

Tayshaun Prince (two points, 1-for-8 shooting), Rasheed Wallace (13 points, 5-for-15) and Billups combined to miss 16 of 18 shots in the half. In fact, if you took Hamilton (13 points) and Lindsey Hunter (eight) out of the mix, the rest of the team made just four of 27 shots. Billups also had three turnovers.

"We had been playing so well, and one of the bad things of playing so well is that everyone is telling you how good you are and you start to believe it," Saunders said. "You forget all the things you did to get to that level."

The Pistons missed 15 layups for the game. And they had costly breakdowns at the defensive end. The Spurs shot 50.7 percent.

"When you are missing shots like that and the other team gets a lot of easy baskets, every shot becomes a pressure shot," Saunders said. "And when we don't make shots, we can't do a lot of things at the other end because we can't set our defense."

The Pistons are 32-19, the best record in the East.

"I am looking forward to the All-Star Game, since it's the first time it's ever been in Vegas," Billups said. "But more importantly, I am looking forward to getting back and getting ready for the playoffs."
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