Saturday , Dec , 04 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Wallace returns, but Spurs remain dominant at home

San Antonio, TX (Sports Network) – Tim Duncan racked up 18 points and 18
rebounds and San Antonio held off a furious fourth-quarter comeback attempt to
record an 80-77 victory over Detroit at the SBC Center.

Tony Parker scored 20 points for the Spurs, who extended their home win streak
to 21 games dating back to last season and posted their sixth straight triumph
overall. Manu Ginobili added 18 points as San Antonio improved to 14-3 on the
year and matched the best start in franchise history.

Chauncey Billups netted all 18 of his points in the fourth quarter as the
Pistons nearly overcame a 21-point deficit early in the second half. Antonio
McDyess compiled 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench for Detroit, which
has dropped four of six.

“I’m proud of the way we fought back, but the loss hurts,” said Pistons head
coach Larry Brown, “To beat this team, coming back from so far down on their
home court, would have been huge.”

Pistons forward Ben Wallace returned from a six-game suspension for his part
in the notorious November 20 melee against Indiana and registered five points
and nine boards in 33 minutes.

The Spurs took control with an early 12-2 run in which Detroit missed six
straight shots over a four-minute span. Ginobili began the spurt with six
consecutive points as San Antonio opened up an 18-7 lead with three minutes
left in the first quarter.

The Pistons countered with a 9-2 flurry, capped by Carlos Delfino’s three-
pointer in the final minute of the period, before Ginobili ended the first
with a fastbreak dunk to put San Antonio up 22-16.

A thunderous slam by Duncan with 6:16 remaining in the half gave the Spurs a
32-24 advantage, but Detroit would score nine of the next 11 points to get
back in it. Richard Hamilton’s first basket of the night, a jumper with 2:57
left before intermission, cut the Pistons’ deficit to 34-33.

San Antonio responded with seven unanswered points and took a 41-33 advantage
on Malik Rose’s layup and subsequent foul shot at the 1:21 mark. A three-
pointer by Duncan at the buzzer gave the hosts a cozy nine-point halftime
cushion at 46-37.

“Duncan hit a tough shot heading into the half and that took some of the wind
out of our sails coming into the third,” said Billups. “That’s where we really
dug our hole.”

The Spurs then scored the first nine points of the third quarter to pull
further out in front. Ginobili drained a trey to start the half and Duncan
ended the run with a putback off his own miss to give San Antonio a 55-37 lead
with 6:30 left in the period.

Detroit did not make a second-half bucket until Rasheed Wallace’s jumper at
the 4:30 mark of the third. The Spurs then reeled off six straight points,
capped by a nifty reverse layup by Parker with 2:26 to go in the quarter, to
take its largest margin of the night at 63-42. The Pistons made just 2-of-18
shots from the floor and mustered only 11 points in the third.

The Pistons did manage to score the final six points of the stanza and pulled
to within 63-51 on Billups’ three-pointer in the opening minute of the final
quarter. Another Billups’ trey highlighted a 9-2 spurt which made it a five-
point game, 73-68, with under three minutes left.

Detroit continued to climb back in it and got the lead down to three points
when Hamilton scored off a Spurs turnover to make it 75-72 with 1:10 to play.
Billups later buried another shot from beyond the arc with seven seconds on
the clock which sliced San Antonio’s edge to just 78-77.

Brent Barry, though, sunk two foul shots for the final margin and Rose sealed
the win by stealing Tayshaun Prince’s inbound pass.