Pistons Defeat Raptors 95-91

Friday, January 16th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Isiah Thomas is shaking up the New York Knicks. His old team is cruising right along.

The Detroit Pistons won their 10th straight game Wednesday night, rallying past the visiting Toronto Raptors 95-91 behind Mehmet Okur's career-high 27 points and 14 rebounds.

``That's one of the best wins of the year,'' Pistons coach Larry Brown said.

Just hours earlier, Thomas, a Hall of Fame point guard who led Detroit to consecutive NBA titles in 1989 and '90, made yet another major move in his new job as president of the Knicks.

Thomas fired Don Chaney and his two top assistants and hired Lenny Wilkens as head coach.

``I think we all understand that all our jobs are on the line,'' Knicks guard Penny Hardaway said. ``There's no time to baby anybody. If you're not getting it done on a consistent basis, you will be moved.''

The Knicks went out and beat the Orlando Magic 120-110 at Madison Square Garden under Herb Williams, a holdover from Chaney's staff. He ran the team for one game _ with Wilkens set to take over Thursday.

``Don hired me, he was a close friend, I respected him a lot and learned from him,'' Williams said. ``But changes had to be made, and he (Thomas) made changes.''

In other games, it was: Dallas 125, Philadelphia 122 in double overtime; Minnesota 100, San Antonio 93; Houston 95, Boston 80; Indiana 85, Atlanta 78; New Jersey 115, Washington 103; and the Los Angeles Lakers 97, Denver 71.

The 66-year-old Wilkens (1,292-1,114) is the NBA leader in career coaching wins and losses. He was fired by Toronto at the end of last season.

``I think he's a perfect fit,'' said Thomas, who replaced Knicks president Scott Layden late last month.

Since then, Thomas has turned over nearly half the roster and a majority of the coaching staff, acquiring an All-Star in Stephon Marbury and a Hall of Famer in Wilkens.

After the start of the Raptors-Pistons game was delayed 29 minutes because of a snowstorm, Detroit rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to extend its longest winning streak since taking 11 in a row during the 1990-91 season.

Okur, in his second NBA season, had 14 points and five rebounds in the fourth period.

``They couldn't guard him, they couldn't stop him, they couldn't keep him off the boards,'' teammate Chauncey Billups said. ``He was dominant.''

Mavericks 125, 76ers 122, 2OT

At Dallas, Michael Finley scored 32 points and the Mavericks won despite blowing a big lead in the fourth quarter for a second consecutive game.

A few hours after Dallas owner Mark Cuban tried to defuse speculation about Don Nelson's job security by telling Nelson he would remain coach and general manager, the Mavericks played one of their most exciting games.

Dirk Nowitzki scored five of his 25 points in the second overtime for Dallas, including the go-ahead jumper with 24.1 seconds left.

Antoine Walker had his second straight triple-double with 11 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists before fouling out.

The 76ers, who were missing injured starters Derrick Coleman and Kenny Thomas, got a season-high 24 points and 16 rebounds from Samuel Dalembert _ but he missed a key free throw.

Allen Iverson scored 31 points for the 76ers, and Glenn Robinson had 34.

Timberwolves 100, Spurs 93

At San Antonio, Sam Cassell scored 33 points, including eight straight late in the fourth quarter, and Minnesota defeated the Spurs.

Kevin Garnett had 21 points and 10 rebounds for his NBA-leading 32nd double-double of the season. Latrell Sprewell added 23 points for the Timberwolves, who took over sole possession of first place in the Midwest Division from the Spurs.

Tim Duncan had 36 points and 20 rebounds for the Spurs but again struggled from the foul line, shooting just 8-of-15.

Lakers 97, Nuggets 71

At Los Angeles, Slava Medvedenko had 22 points and nine rebounds, Gary Payton added 21 points and the Lakers beat the Nuggets for their third straight victory since an embarrassing 22-point loss in Denver last week.

The victory was the 800th for Lakers coach Phil Jackson. He accomplished the feat in 1,101 games, making him the fastest to reach 800 in NBA history.

Playing without injured stars Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone, the Lakers (24-11) took command by playing a near-flawless first half in taking a 55-35 lead.

Rockets 95, Celtics 80

At Boston, Cuttino Mobley scored 24 points and Yao Ming added 21 points and 15 rebounds for Houston, which held Paul Pierce to a season-low four points on 1-of-10 shooting.

Pacers 85, Hawks 78

At Indianapolis, Reggie Miller scored all 13 of his points in the fourth quarter and Jermaine O'Neal had 26 points and 16 rebounds for the Pacers. Ron Artest added 23 points _ the fifth straight game he's scored at least 20.

Nets 115, Wizards 103

At East Rutherford, N.J., Rodney Rogers, filling in for suspended forward Kenyon Martin, had 18 points and a season-high 13 rebounds to lift New Jersey.

Richard Jefferson scored 30 points, including a 41-foot 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter, to help the Nets win for the eighth time in 10 games. Jason Kidd added 18 points and 13 assists.