ATLANTA — Chauncey Billups came through when it mattered, scoring 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to rally the Detroit Pistons to their ninth win in a row, 94-90 over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.
Rasheed Wallace carried the Pistons in the early going, scoring 15 straight points for his team in the first quarter and finishing with 21. The Hawks lost their third in a row despite 30 points from Josh Smith.
Billups went 0-for-8 from the field through the first three quarters, but he looked more like himself in the fourth. He ripped off 10 straight points for Detroit, including a couple of 3s, turning a three-point deficit into an 89-86 lead with 2:25 remaining.
Appropriately, Billups finished it off with the biggest shot of the game, a jumper over Anthony Johnson with 22 seconds remaining for a 92-89 lead.
Smith was fouled but made only one free throw. Richard Hamilton did what Smith couldn’t do, making both foul shots with 14 seconds left to seal the win.
The Hawks were held to 3-of-19 shooting in the fourth by the gritty Pistons, who led an early 15-point lead slip away but rebounded at the end.
Wallace got off to a brilliant start, hitting his first six shots — including three beyond the 3-point arc. Detroit twice led by 15 before the Hawks responded.
Atlanta closed to 55-48 by halftime, and kept up the momentum in the third as the visitors turned cold.
The Pistons went nearly six minutes without a field goal, allowing the Hawks to surge ahead on Al Horford’s three-point play midway through the period. The rookie pumped his fist after being fouled, then stepped to the line and swished the free throw.
The Hawks led 76-74 after a frenetic final minute to the third. Arron Afflalo came up with a steal and was going in for a layup, but Smith came out of nowhere to make a soaring block.
Atlanta took off the other way and Marvin Williams went in for a dunk, but the ball rimmed out. The Pistons tried to start a fast break of their own, but the Hawks stole it away near midcourt and Williams got another shot at the dunk. This time he didn’t miss, sending the crowd into a frenzy.