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Published: Thursday, 1/3/2008

Hamilton hits 20 as Pistons roll on


WASHINGTON - The Detroit Pistons' energy and enthusiasm impressed Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan.

He wished he'd seen some of the same from his own team last night.

Richard Hamilton's 20 points made him the 10th-leading scorer in Pistons history, and he added nine assists and seven rebounds to help Detroit earn its 10th consecutive victory by beating Washington 106-93.

"I told our team, if this is a test - which it is when you play against the best team in the league; especially right now, they're the best team - then you have to see how you respond to them," Jordan said. "And if this was a test, I give us a C or a C-minus."

It's the Pistons' longest winning streak since an 11-gamer in January, 2006, and their average margin of victory during the current run is 16.8 points.

"Another game where most of our starters could sit and watch most of the fourth quarter and watch our young guys develop," said point guard Chauncey Billups, who scored 16.

How lopsided was this one? Detroit led by double digits throughout the second half and seven Pistons scored at least 10 points.

Detroit used a 10-0 run at the start of the second quarter to take the lead for good. Led by Jason Maxiell's 15 points, including one huge putback dunk, Detroit's reserves outscored Washington's 33-8.

"Max, that's what he does," Billups said. "He comes in there with reckless abandon, and we feed off of him."

Jordan took note.

"Your bench needs to come in and give you a shot in the arm a little bit, whether you're going well or you're not going well. They've got to come in and up the ante a little bit," the coach said. "We just didn't have that. But even the starters didn't have it after a while."

His Wizards were paced by Caron Butler's 22 points and Antawn Jamison's 21, but they again failed to defeat a top team. Washington's last victory over a club with a winning record came Dec. 1 against the Toronto Raptors.

The Pistons, meanwhile, are beating everyone. They improved to 25-7 overall, 17-2 against Eastern Conference opponents. Detroit coach Flip Saunders was honored yesterday as the East's coach of the month after his club went 15-2 in December.

"You're happy," Saunders said, "because it shows your team is playing at a high level."

Hamilton's been a big part of that, and he now has led Detroit in scoring each of its past six games.

He entered yesterday needing four points to pass Gene Shue on the Pistons' career scoring list and, surprisingly, didn't get there in the first quarter, shooting only 1-for-4. But the former Wizards player got going with 13 points in the second period.

"It's fun. I'm not actually playing a lot of minutes," Hamilton said. "It's great when you're winning and the bench gets an opportunity. It makes everyone's job a lot easier."

NOTES: Wizards point guard Antonio Daniels returned after missing seven games with a sprained right knee. He finished with 18 points and two assists in 36 minutes. ... Pistons F Jarvis Hayes scored 12 points in his first game against his former team; he left the Wizards as a free agent in the offseason.

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