Grant Hill scored a career-high 46 points, two of which came after he appeared to receive superstar treatment from the referees.
Hill made two free throws after a highly questionable foul call on Juwan Howard with 13 seconds left, and the Detroit Pistons remained undefeated with a 106-103 win over the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
Rod Strickland's driving layup from the right side gave Washington a 103-102 lead with 14.5 seconds left.
On the Pistons' next possession, Hill had the ball on the left side and was torn between driving the baseline and calling timeout. As he lost his balance and fell out of bounds, Howard was called for a foul.
"I went out there and just tried to at first deny him from catching the ball, like I'd been doing all game," Howard said. "He was totally off balance, fell out of bounds, and the foul was called. I felt I played good defense on him."
Television replays seemed to confirm Howard's version. Hill made both shots for a 104-103 lead.
Moments later, Strickland stumbled trying to drive through the lane and Lindsey Hunter poked the ball away. Jud Buechler picked up the ball and was immediately fouled, and made two free throws with 1.9 remaining for the final margin.
Hill, whose previous high was 38 points in a 124-120 win over Indiana on April 20, 1997, tied the mark for high game in The Palace, shared by Shaquille O'Neal.
Hill shot 14-for-21 from the field and 18-for-22 from the line. He also had seven assists, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots -- including a three-point rejection of Tim Legler on the game's final play.
Naturally, he had a different opinion of the game-breaking call.
"I started to call timeout and then I decided to just see what they would do," Hill said. "In retrospect, calling timeout would have been the smart thing to do, but it worked."
Mitch Richmond scored 26 points for Washington. Strickland, making first start after signing on the day before the abbreviated season opened, had 24 points and Howard scored 23 before fouling out with the crucial call on Hill.
Hill's 19 points in the first quarter, on 8-of-9 shooting, was the best quarter of his career. Hill's 31 at halftime (11-of-13, 9-of-11) also marked a personal best for a half.
"I just wanted to come out early and make some things happen," Hill said. "It felt really good to have a couple go in early. That really got me into a nice flow."
"Grant is a handful," Wizards' coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "He's a great basketball player. He penetrated and he dropped it off. I just don't think Mitch or Rod was shown the same respect."
Hill, using dazzling spins and speed to wheel around his defenders, weaved and slashed his way to 17 points in the first 8:26 of the game. He was taken out for a rest a few seconds later, but came back to score on a tip-in with 2.3 seconds left to finish with 19 points in the first quarter.
Hill scored Detroit's last four points of the second quarter, driving for a layup, then adding two free throws. But two free throws by Strickland sent the teams off tied 56-56 at halftime.
Richmond followed a short jumper with a 3-pointer as Washington finished the third quarter with a 7-0 run for an 86-81 lead. Hill scored only seven points in that quarter, giving him 37 going into the final quarter.
The crowd, announced at 14,210, was much smaller than the 18,877 announced for Sunday's home opener. The Palace holds 21,454.
The most points scored by a Piston is 56 by Kelly Tripucka against Chicago on Jan. 29, 1983 ... Joe Dumars, who needs one point to become the 61st player to reach 16,000, sat out the game with a sore left hamstring. Dumars is in his 14th and final season ... Jerry Stackhouse seemed like the logical player to replace Dumars in the Pistons' starting lineup. But with Stackhouse playing so well off the bench, the Pistons started Mark Macon instead ... With his next victory, Bickerstaff will move into a tie with Richie Guerin for 33rd among coaches with 327 wins. Bickerstaff ranks 11th among active coaches.
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