AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Chauncey Billups had 28 points and a career-high 19 assists and Richard Hamilton scored 36 points to lead the Detroit Pistons to a 109-98 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night.

The Pistons improved to 16-3, tying the 1996-97 team for the best start in franchise history. The Kings (10-13) had their three-game winning streak snapped.

Billups also beat Steve Nash’s 17 for the most assists in the league this season. Isiah Thomas was the last Piston with 19 assists, doing it against Orlando on Feb. 16, 1993.

Rasheed Wallace added 19 points for Detroit and Ben Wallace had 17 rebounds.

Brad Miller had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Kings, while Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Mike Bibby had 14 each.

The Pistons got off to a quick start, leading 36-23 with 1:37 left in the first, but then went nine minutes without a field goal.

That allowed the Kings to tie the game at 40, but Detroit’s starters returned and rallied the team to a 56-48 halftime lead.

Sacramento got as close as 69-68 early in the third, but dunks from Ben and Rasheed Wallace helped Detroit pull away.

The Pistons led 83-75 at quarter’s end, then scored the first nine points of the fourth to take a 17-point lead. Antonio McDyess hit two jumpers and Billups added a 3-pointer.

Notes: Ben Wallace, who started the game wearing a pair of bright-red goggles, left midway through the first quarter with a jammed thumb. He returned a few minutes later, without the goggles. … Bonzi Wells picked up a third-quarter technical for flipping the ball off Hamilton after fouling him. … The crowd began to chant “Fire Millen”, referring to embattled Detroit Lions president Matt Millen, as the Pistons pulled away in the fourth

AP-ES-12-14-05 2148EST


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