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Blaylock Blocks Pistons

Mookie Blaylock finally found his shooting touch.

Blaylock, averaging just 11.1 points per game, scored 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 85-72 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

The only time Blaylock has averaged fewer points was in his rookie campaign 10 years ago. He was shooting 29 percent in his last seven games.

"Mookie just played great tonight he kept us in our offense, he made some huge shots, and a bunch of steals," said Blaylock's backcourt mate Steve Smith, who added 22 points. "He wasn't rushing himself."

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  • Grant Hill had 27 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for Detroit, but his teammates managed just 45 points on 30 percent shooting.

    "This has been a really strange year," said Pistons center Bison Dele, who scored six points in 19 minutes. "It seems like our offensive flow is either all the way off or all the way on. We are either grinding it out or we make everything look effortless."

    Detroit was without guard Joe Dumars, who sat out the game with a strained left calf. Dumars had been scoreless in each of the Pistons' last two games, but Piston coach Alvin Gentry said that doesn't matter.

    "Joe's impact goes well beyond whether he is scoring 20 points or no points," Gentry said. "When he's on the court, our team has confidence that everything is going to work out, and if something goes wrong, Joe will get us organized."

    Atlanta led 43-40 at the half, after a controversial play at the first-half buzzer. Former Piston Grant Long threw up a desperation hook shot from 35 feet that missed badly, but Korleone Young was called for a foul. Long hit all three free throws, breaking a 40-all tie.

    Detroit stepped up the defense in the third, holding Atlanta to just three field goals in the first 10:30 and taking a 57-53 lead.

    But Smith scored the period's final seven points, the last on 3-pointer over Jerry Stackhouse with 11 seconds left.

    That put Atlanta up 60-57, and after Jerome Williams opened the fourth with two free throws, the Hawks went on a 10-1 run to go up by 10 with 7:30 to play. The last six came on back-to-back 3-pointers by Blaylock.

    The Pistons went nearly eight minutes without a field goal before Grant Hill's basket with 5:49 to go. But that only slowed the Hawks down briefly, as Smith hit a jumper and Tyrone Corbin added a triple to make it 75-62 with 4:47 to go.

    Detroit briefly got within eight, but Blaylock hit his third 3-pointer of the quarter to put the game out of reach.

    The Atlanta reserves outscored Detroit's 25-18, and a rested Blaylock-Smith combination helped the Hawks turn a close game into a tidy 85-72 victory.

    "Last year, it always seemed like we only had six or seven guys that we could count on," Smith said. "This year, we have 12 guys who can play. That's huge."

    NOTES: Young, Detroit's second-round draft choice out of high school, made his home debut Sunday. He had four points and two rebounds in six minutes. ... Atlanta hadn't won a regular-season game at the Palace since Dec. 23, 1994. ... The Pistons signed free-agent guard Khalid Reeves to a 10-day contract.

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