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The Detroit Pistons are back to their old mainstays and back to their old, winning ways.
Richard Hamilton had 25 points, Tayshaun Prince scored 15 and each hit a 3-pointer in the final 80 seconds to help the Pistons beat the Celtics 105-95 on Sunday. Hamilton also had nine assists in his second straight start since Allen Iverson returned to Detroit because of a stiff back.
"You can tell they're playing the system they played before Iverson got there," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce, who scored 26. "When Iverson is out there they're still trying to figure out how to use each other, how to all be successful. But that group that's out there is definitely comfortable because they've played together for years."
Detroit had lost five straight regular season games to the Celtics - 9-of-11 including a six-game Eastern Conference final that sent Boston on its way to a record 17th NBA title. The Pistons had lost eight in a row before snapping the skid on Friday night, when Hamilton scored 31 against Orlando.
"We played our type of basketball," he said. "That's the thing for me with Tayshaun, Rasheed (Wallace) and (Antonio) McDyess, I always know they're going to be at all times."
The Pistons acquired Iverson from Denver two games into the season for former point guard Chauncey Billups, who led the Pistons to the conference finals last year and won the finals MVP when they won the NBA title in 2004. But they began a freefall on Feb. 8 that didn't stop until Iverson was injured.
Pistons coach Michael Curry said he didn't think Iverson was the problem.
"It was nothing against the way Allen played," Curry said. "We just have to play the same way, and he has to play that way."
Glen "Big Baby" Davis, starting in place of the injured Kevin Garnett, scored 18 and Pierce played all but 18 seconds as Boston lost to an Eastern Conference opponent at home for the first time this season.
Detroit made a season-high 34 free throws, in 40 attempts.
"This is the old Pistons we're playing now," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "The ball is hopping. They're playing together."
Boston led 85-81 when Wallace hit a 3-pointer with 7:04 left to start a 13-4 run that left the Pistons ahead 94-89. They led 95-91 when Davis dived and took out Prince's feet on a breakaway, drawing a clear-path-to-the-basket foul; Prince hit one free throw, then Rodney Stuckey missed both.
But after Pierce missed one of two free throws, Prince hit a 3-pointer from the corner to put the Pistons up eight. Hamilton added a 3 with 50 seconds left to make it 103-94 - matching Detroit's biggest lead of the game.
The Pistons led by eight at the half before the Celtics opened the third quarter with 12 in a row - going 6-for-6 from the floor while Detroit went 0-for-5. Detroit led 77-68 near the end of the third when Boston went on an 17-4 run thanks partly to three 3-pointers by Eddie House.
This program aired on March 2, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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