AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Richard Hamilton scored 30 points and Chauncey Billups added 23 as the Detroit Pistons beat the Houston Rockets 104-92 Saturday night.

The Pistons (5-5) have won two straight to get back to .500 after their worst start in six years. Houston (6-4) had won five of six.

The teams traded the lead through the early portions of the fourth quarter, but the Pistons took control with a 17-2 run that gave them a 98-85 lead with 3:18 left. Rasheed Wallace and Flip Murray each had six points in the surge.

Wallace finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for Detroit and Tayshaun Prince scored 15 points.

Yao Ming scored 33 points and added 16 rebounds. Tracy McGrady added 25 points for Houston, but no other Rockets player reached double figures.

The Pistons looked comfortable early, but Houston went on a 20-1 run that spanned the first and second quarters. The Rockets held the Pistons without a field goal for nearly eight minutes, and it spurred them to a 52-50 halftime lead.

Yao had 19 in the half and McGrady added 17 before picking up his third foul in the last seconds of the second quarter.

The game remained close for the entire third quarter. Detroit went ahead 74-72 on a late dunk by Prince, but the Rockets moved back into a 78-76 lead at the end of the period.

Notes: Prince hit a medium-range jumper at the first-half buzzer to get Detroit within two. … The game was announced as the 141st straight sellout at the Palace, but there were noticeable gaps in the crowd on the evening of the Michigan-Ohio State game. … The Pistons bench was given a technical foul in the second quarter, and when Leon Washington was asked who it was on, he replied “All of them!” The technical was credited to Wallace in the official box score. … McGrady hit a shot from three-quarters court at the end of the third quarter, but it came after the buzzer.

AP-ES-11-18-06 2206EST



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