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Published: Tuesday, 1/18/2011

Pistons win 3rd in row; rotation may be settled

ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — With the season half over, Pistons coach John Kuester may have finally found a rotation that works.

Rodney Stuckey scored 20 points, and Detroit shot 65 percent in the second half Monday in a 103-89 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. The Pistons have now won three in a row for the first time all season, and Kuester's latest attempt to shake up the lineup appears to be paying dividends.

Detroit has gone with a new starting group for the last four games, with Tracy McGrady at point guard and rookie Greg Monroe at center. Richard Hamilton has been benched entirely over that same span.

"Right now I like what I'm seeing out there," Kuester said. "I'm very comfortable with the way this group is playing, and the guys off the bench are doing a great job."

Dirk Nowitzki scored 32 points for Dallas in his second game back from a sprained right knee. Jason Terry added 18 points, but no other Maverick was in double figures. Dallas has lost six straight.

"Our competitive level has to come up, it is as simple as that," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "That just wasn't acceptable."

Kuester has juggled Detroit's lineup plenty already this season, so it remains to be seen how long the Pistons can keep this up, but they played some of their best basketball in the second half Monday. They made 11 straight shots in the third quarter and turned the ball over only once in the last two periods.

Tayshaun Prince added 19 points and Greg Monroe had 16 points and nine rebounds. The Pistons led 41-37 at halftime before turning the game into a surprising rout.

"I think that foundation has finally been set — guys knowing their role in the starting group, guys know their role coming off the bench and as you see, it's just clicking right now," McGrady said. "That's something we've been searching for for quite some time and I think we finally found it."

Dallas has lost six straight for the first time since 2000.

Nowitzki returned Saturday night from a nine-game absence, but he was ejected in the third quarter of an 89-70 loss to Memphis. He began making up for lost time right away against the Pistons, scoring 18 points in the first half.

Detroit center Ben Wallace sat out with a left ankle injury.

For the fourth straight game, Hamilton didn't play at all — there's been talk he could be traded. Fans chanted, "We want Rip!" on a couple occasions in the first half.

"It's not a thing that you want, in a way, because you want to be out there playing," Hamilton said. "You want them to be cheering for you out there playing. It's just a thing where they just appreciate you."



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