Pistons Rolling With C-Webb in Lineup

Friday, February 9th 2007, 7:02 am
By: News On 6

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) _ When the Detroit Pistons signed Chris Webber a few weeks ago, they hoped he would help them win a championship just as Rasheed Wallace did as a midseason acquisition in 2004.

Chauncey Billups is feeling even better now after watching Webber seamlessly fit into his new team with an array of passes and shots.

``We've got a real chance to win it all,'' said Billups, MVP of the 2004 NBA finals. ``We've got so many weapons that can hit you from so many angles and we're good defensively as well.''

That was certainly the case in a 93-78 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

The Pistons had four players score at least 16 points and they held Kobe Bryant to 18 points, 10 below his average. Bryant also had eight turnovers, one away from his career high.

``They played like champions,'' said Bryant, who lost to Detroit in the 2004 finals. ``They are great defensively, and they get a little leeway because of their reputations. Great teams earn that leeway. We haven't played anyone else like that this season.''

New Orleans edged Milwaukee 109-101 in two overtimes and Sacramento beat Chicago 86-77 in the other NBA games Thursday night.

The Pistons have won five straight _ building a two-game lead for the best record in the Eastern Conference _ and are 9-2 with Webber in the starting lineup.

``Chris fits because he's smart, unselfish and wants to win and that's what our team is all about,'' Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars told The Associated Press after the game.

Webber had 18 points and 11 rebounds _ his third double-double in Detroit _ and scored at least 12 points for the fifth straight game in a season-high 41 minutes against the Lakers.

``It's only going to get better,'' he said.

Bryant agreed.

``He's a phenomenal passer,'' Bryant said. ``It's fun to watch him, unless you are actually trying to stop him. When he was with Sacramento, he drove us crazy with those passes.

``When he comes in the game, you can see all of those guys start licking their chops and cutting even harder to the basket because they know what he will be giving them.''

Lakers reserve Maurice Evans, who played in Detroit last season, is not surprised Webber's career has been rejuvenated with the Pistons.

In fact, Evans told Webber he should sign with the Pistons _ not the Lakers _ when his former Sacramento teammate called asking for help.

``Sure, I would have liked for him to be dropping behind-the-back passes to me all day,'' Evans said. ``But in the interests of a friend, I was giving honest advice.''

Detroit's Tayshaun Prince scored 20, Rasheed Wallace had 18 and 10 rebounds and Richard Hamilton added 16 points and seven assists.

``On any given night, any of those guys can beat you,'' Bryant said.

The Pistons built a double-digit lead in the first quarter with crisp ball movement that led to 11 assists on 12 baskets and didn't have much trouble maintaining the cushion for the rest of the game.

Detroit has won eight straight at home against Los Angeles, including three victories in the 2004 finals that were Shaquille O'Neal's last games with the Lakers.

``It's all about matchups, and they aren't good for us against Detroit,'' Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said.

Los Angeles had balanced scoring, but much of it came too late.

Ronny Turiaf had 13 and 11 rebounds, Lamar Odom scored 12 points, Smush Parker had 11 and rookie Jordan Farmar added 10 points for the Lakers, who fell to 3-3 on their eight-game road trip.

``It's been a rough trip,'' Bryant said. ``We have to try and get these next two games and go home with a 5-3 trip. We will be pretty happy with that.''

Hornets 109, Bucks 101, 2OT

Desmond Mason scored 24 points and David West shrugged off a bruised hand to add 21 points and a career-high 19 rebounds to lead New Orleans to its second straight overtime win.

Mo Williams had 30 points and Ruben Patterson added 28 points and a season-high 16 rebounds for Milwaukee, which has lost eight straight road games.

Kings 86, Bulls 77

Kevin Martin scored 29 points, Mike Bibby had 21 and Sacramento won its fourth straight.

Ron Artest had 10 points and eight rebounds. Brad Miller added 11 rebounds and six assists for the Kings, who had 20 turnovers.

Luol Deng had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Kirk Hinrich scored 18 points for Chicago, which shot 33 percent and has dropped eight straight games at Arco Arena.