Pistons 92, Bucks 74

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. –

Rasheed Wallace scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half and Richard Hamilton scored 21 to lead Detroit to a 92-74 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of their first-round series.

The top-seeded Pistons were so balanced offensively that they started the final quarter with four scorers in double figures, and were so tough at the other end that Milwaukee didn’t have one.

Bucks star Michael Redd was held to 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting after averaging 25.4 during the regular season and 30 in four games against the Pistons. Reserve Charlie Bell led Milwaukee with 13 points.

The Pistons took control with a 13-2 run midway through the third quarter to take a 51-43 lead, but had to respond when the Bucks showed signs of life to open the fourth.

Milwaukee scored the first eight points of the final quarter to pull within four, but couldn’t stop four Pistons from combining for an 11-0 run to give Detroit a 79-64 lead.

The Pistons will also host Game 2 in the best-of-seven series Wednesday.

Detroit, which opened the playoffs exactly 10 months after losing Game 7 at San Antonio, will have home-court advantage throughout the postseason after winning an NBA-high 64 games.

The Pistons hope the edge helps them win three more games against Milwaukee, four more in the next round, four in the Eastern Conference finals and another four in the NBA Finals.

If they stay healthy, they’ll have a shot – and that might be the only thing they’re worried about after their playoff opener.

Hamilton rolled his left ankle early in the fourth and after appearing to be OK as he played, he limped off the court in pain later in the quarter.

Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince scored 15, Chauncey Billups had 14 and reserve Antonio McDyess added nine points.

Milwaukee’s Andrew Bogut, the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft, had eight points midway through the second quarter, but finished with just 11. Jamaal Magloire added 11 for the Bucks.

Milwaukee, the lone sub-.500 team still playing, is the first team in NBA history to make the postseason with at least four different starters from the previous season. And, Redd was the only starter who didn’t make his postseason debut for the Bucks.

The Pistons begin games with the same five players they did in 2004 when they beat the Bucks in the first round en route to the third championship in franchise history.

The Pistons scored the first basket – on Rasheed Wallace’s first of four field goals in the first quarter – then Milwaukee scored nine straight points. Both teams finished the quarter making less than 40 percent of their shots and tied 19-all.

After 10 lead changes and six ties, Detroit led 43-37 at halftime.

Rasheed Wallace made a jumper on the first possession of the second half, picking up where he left off, but went to the bench early in the fourth quarter when he was called for two quick fouls and a technical.

Notes: Milwaukee was without reserve forward Toni Kukoc (back spasms). … Detroit coach Flip Saunders, who spent the previous nine-plus seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves, coached the CBA’s LaCrosse (Wis.) Catbirds from 1989-94. … The Pistons went 3-1 against the Bucks this season, losing the only game while Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace rested.

AP-ES-04-23-06 2148EDT

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