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Published: Sunday, 12/13/2009

Pistons beat Warriors in Hamilton's return

ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — For once, the Detroit Pistons were the healthier team.

Even with the surprise return of Richard Hamilton after a six-week absence, the Pistons were missing three key players.

Golden State was playing without five, though, and Detroit's depth turned out to be crucial, as the Pistons dominated the second half to win their fifth straight game, 104-95 over the Warriors on Saturday night.

“We knew this was going to be a dangerous game, because that's the type of team that can score 30 points in a quarter, which is what they did to us in the first period,” Detroit coach John Kuester said. “I've got to give kudos to Rip — tonight was really the first time he's even run up and down the floor, but he just wanted to help the team. I've been in the game for 20 years, and very rarely do you see a guy do what he did tonight.”

Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 29 points and Charlie Villanueva added 23. Hamilton, who had missed 21 games with a sprained right ankle sustained in Detroit's opener, finished with 18 points in 37 minutes.

“I didn't know Rip was going to play until a couple minutes before the game started — I guess they wanted it to be a surprise,” Villanueva said. “It was an amazing lift having him back on the floor.”

Hamilton didn't know much earlier, as he had told Kuester at the morning shootaround that he wouldn't be able to play.

“It wasn't feeling right, but I went home and my wife told me to stop feeling sorry for myself and to get out there and play,” he said. “I haven't practiced, I haven't run, I haven't done sprints or anything like that, but I decided to go ahead and play.

“I knew I was going to be rusty, but I thought I could figure it out.”

Monta Ellis, playing all 48 minutes for the fifth time this season, led Golden State with 29 points, while Corey Maggette added 23 off the bench.

“We just don't have enough bodies out there right now,” interim Warriors coach Keith Smart said. “These guys are giving it everything they've got, but when your roster is this small, your margin for error disappears.”

Rookie Stephen Curry scored 19, but the other three starters combined for only 11.

“There was one point when we were playing two point guards, a shooting guard and two small forwards,” Curry said. “

Golden State led 55-49 at the half, shooting 54 percent in the first two quarters, but only managed 12 points in the third.

Hamilton hit back-to-back jumpers as part of a 7-0 run that gave Pistons a 92-83 lead with 3:49 left, and the Warriors never threatened again.

NOTES: Hamilton became the seventh player to score 10,000 points as a Piston when he reached the mark with a first-quarter jumper. ... The Warriors made their first 14 free throws before Ellis missed early in the second half. ... Ellis has played all 48 minutes in three of Golden State's last five games.



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