February 1st - ~ Detroit News ~ Nets 91, Pistons 84 Nets stop Pistons' win streak at 11 Detroit tries to rally in fourth quarter, but 36.6% shooting leads to this sixth loss By Chris McCosky This was bound to happen. Sooner or later, the shots weren't going to fall, the defense wasn't going to be as stout and the opponent was just going to be more desperate. Sooner or later, the Pistons weren't going to be able to flip the switch and make a team go away. It happened Tuesday night at Continental Airlines Arena. The Nets, riding a four-game losing streak and losers in eight of their last 11, built a 10-point lead late in the third quarter and held off a wild Pistons rally in the fourth. "For whatever reason, we just weren't as mentally alert," coach Flip Saunders said after the Nets held on for a 91-84 victory, ending the Pistons' 11-game win streak. Pistons: Notebook Billups unsure of U.S. Plans commitment to team depends on schedule of guard, whose wife will give birth this summer By Chris McCosky In just a couple of short years, Chauncey Billups has gone from a vagabond player bouncing from team to team, to NBA champion and NBA Finals MVP, to most likely his first All-Star appearance this season and now, perhaps, a U.S. Olympian. Not bad work. "It's crazy, man," Billups said after shoot-around Tuesday. "It just shows that I've come a long way. It's an unbelievable honor to have that opportunity, and really to be in a position to be considered, it's great. I am loving it." Jerry Colangelo, managing director of the U.S. men's national basketball team, told The News on Monday that there is a spot on the team for Billups and the only question is finalizing the commitment. Fantasy sports Top rebounders enhance a team's playoff chances By Sean Baligian Take a look at the top scorers in the NBA -- it's the usual suspects. You see Kobe, AI, and LeBron all averaging more than 30 points. Scoring is one thing, though. Rebounding now that's another source for pounding your chest any week during fantasy play. So, if you're in a league that rewards the big hands, here are a few names to look at... ~ Detroit Free Press ~ Snagged by Nets Kidd is the key in ending Pistons' 11-game win streak By Shannon Shelton Two streaks ended Tuesday night at Continental Airlines Arena. The New Jersey Nets broke their four-game losing streak, 91-84, and ended the Pistons' 11-game winning streak that dated to Jan. 10. The Pistons (37-6) shot 36.6% from the field, well below the 46.4% in their previous games. They also failed to follow the rule that usually results in victories against New Jersey (23-20) -- never let Jason Kidd get too many good looks at the basket. Billups puts baby before basketball By Shannon Shelton Chauncey Billups said he wouldn't play in the world championships this summer in Japan if it meant he wouldn't be around for the birth of his third child. But Billups said he would consider it if the selection committee made an exception that would allow him to be with his wife, Piper, as she approaches her August due date. That remains a possibility. The world championships will be Aug. 19 through Sept. 3, and the team that competes in 2006 would represent the United States in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. ~ Booth Newspapers ~ Pistons off in loss to Nets By A. Sherrod Blakely Flip Saunders has been around the Detroit Pistons long enough to see them play just about every way imaginable. However, Tuesday night's 91-84 loss to the New Jersey Nets was something he has rarely seen. The 37-6 Pistons, whose 11-game winning streak came to an end, showed a lack of focus and an inability to make big plays down the stretch when the game was up for grabs. "The way we were playing," said Saunders, in his first season as Pistons coach, "I thought we'd be down by 15." Despite loss, Pistons had a great January By A. Sherrod Blakely Despite Tuesday's 91-84 loss against New Jersey, the Detroit Pistons finished January with one of the best months in franchise history. Detroit's success will likely result in head coach Flip Saunders being named the Eastern Conference's coach of the month for the third consecutive month, something no NBA coach has ever done. The Pistons had a 13-2 record in January, tying the franchise record for most wins for that month. ~ The Oakland Press ~ Can't win 'em all Detroit goes cold (except for Billups) in sluggish loss to Nets By Dana Gauruder Hold the 70-win talk for a while. The Pistons can't do it every game. Some nights, they can even look like an ordinary team. Their 91-84 loss to New Jersey on Tuesday night is a prime example. They shot poorly, got outhustled and suffered defensive lapses at crucial moments as their 11-game winning streak, an NBA season high, was halted. Chauncey Billups scored 30 points, but they still came up two games shy of their franchise record for consecutive wins. ~ New York Daily News ~ For Nets, no Place like home bounce back to stun Pistons By Ohm Youngmisuk A tense fourth quarter was winding down and Chauncey Billups was in his element. "Mr. Big Shot" had just buried his fifth straight shot and fourth three-pointer of the fourth quarter to cut the Nets' lead to one with 1:44 left. "With them, crunch time is the best time," Vince Carter said of the Pistons. Except last night, the Nets gave the Pistons a taste of their own formula for success. Jason Collins drew a huge charge before Jason Kidd answered Billups with a three-point dagger with 48.3 seconds that lifted the Nets to an inspired 91-84 victory at the Meadowlands. ~ New York Times ~ Not settling for less, than Nets beat the best By John Eligon The rivalry between the Nets and the Pistons — fueled by fierce playoff battles — subsided the past season and a half. Detroit has dominated the N.B.A. this season, so there was not much of a showdown to speak of heading into Tuesday's game. But that intense battle was renewed at Continental Arena, and the Nets showed that, though they may not be as consistent as the Pistons, they have the tools to compete with them. Thanks to a late 3-pointer and two free throws from Jason Kidd, the Nets ended a four-game losing streak, 91-84. The loss was only the Pistons' sixth in 43 games this season, snapping their 11-game winning streak. Detroit (37-6) still has the best record in the league. The Nets improved to 23-20. ~ New York Post ~ Surging Pistons are Flip side of Knicks By Jay Greenberg THE PISTONS, who were uptahere with Larry Brown, nevertheless thank him. Just as the Knicks may do some day, when Eddy Curry becomes Shaq, Isiah Thomas admits to a single mistake and pigs fly. Of course, by then Brown will be long gone, as he was from seven NBA teams that each benefited from his presence, though they still felt he shouldn't let the door hit him on the way out. Personnel losses are measured by replacements — in Detroit's case, the capable Flip Saunders. ~ The Washington Times ~ Everything pointing to two-man MVP race By Tom Knott The NBA's MVP race is the two-person undertaking of Steve Nash and Chauncey Billups. The others -- Elton Brand, Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki -- are distant candidates at the midway point in the season. Nash has provided a stirring encore to his tirelessly debated MVP acquisition last season. It comes in the absence of Amare Stoudemire, the team's No. 2 player who has yet to score a point or snare a rebound this season. His injury was expected to cripple the Suns, Nash or not. If not Nash, then Billups Now Billups is the essential element on a team that is flirting with the 70-win mark. His assist/turnover ratio is third in the NBA. He is ranked in the top 20 of 15 statistical categories. At age 29 -- late by NBA standards -- Billups has emerged as a genuine star who relishes taking the big shot. The choice between the two is apt to require a coin flip.