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Published: Thursday, 10/29/2009

Pistons cruise in opener Hamilton, Gordon pace win

ASSOCIATED PRESS

MEMPHIS - Richard Hamilton scored 25 points, Ben Gordon added 22, and the Detroit Pistons ran away from the Memphis Grizzlies 96-74 last night in the season opener for both teams.

The two guards were a combined 17 of 31 from the floor, and that was after Hamilton started the game missing five of his first six shots.

Hamilton left the game after spraining his right ankle on a shot with just under 5 minutes to play. He hit one of the two ensuing free throws, then went straight to the dressing room on the next dead ball.

Tayshaun Prince finished with 14 points for Detroit in new coach John Kuester's debut, while Rodney Stuckey scored 12.

Marc Gasol led Memphis with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Rudy Gay scored 16 points, and Zach Randolph recorded 14 points and nine rebounds in his first game with the Grizzlies, who were without the injured Allen Iverson.

After shooting well at the start, Memphis struggled to 36 percent from the field, while Detroit finished at 51 percent.

Already leading by 14 entering the final quarter, Detroit clicked off eight unanswered points to open the period, including consecutive 3-pointers by Gordon. That gave Detroit a 20-point lead, and Memphis was on its way to losing its ninth straight season-opener.

Memphis shot well early, but the turnover problems that plagued the Grizzlies in the preseason continued. The Detroit pressure defense caused some of the miscues; some came as Memphis tried to run.

Hamilton got untracked in the second quarter, connecting on six of his seven shots in the period, en route to 17 first-half points. That helped Detroit carry a 53-41 lead into the dressing room.

Gordon came off the bench to hit five of his first six shots for 15 points in the half. His 3-pointer near the midway point of the second period extended the Pistons' lead to double digits.

Memphis guards Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo combined to shoot only 3 of 16 from the floor in the game.

Detroit led by as much as 17 in the third quarter and brought a 71-57 lead into the fourth, which Memphis never really threatened.

NOTES: Prince started his 437th consecutive game, tops among active players. ... Kuester acknowledged a bit of nervousness. "The butterflies are there, and I think you're anxious to get going," he said before the game. "I'm just lucky to have a great group of guys who work hard at this thing. To get the season going, and to improve each game is going to be important to us, and I'm looking forward to it."



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