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Pistons Squeak By Mavericks

Jud Buechler, a bit player in the Bulls dynasty, is paying big dividends for the Detroit Pistons.

Buechler had his best game Friday night with 3 three-pointers and a key steal in the final five minutes, lifting the Pistons to a 94-87 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

"Until this year, I was never the player to make the shot," said Buechler, who finished with those nine points. "In Chicago, we had Michael, Scottie and Toni who were the shooters. So it felt good to make the shots tonight."

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  • "I would have liked to have had a couple more shots earlier in the game to warm up, but when I have the shot, I have to take it."

    Detroit led by 18 points in the third quarter, but blew the lead and needed Buechler's shooting to end their three-game losing streak.

    "We won the game, so we are going to take the positives out of this," said coach Alvin Gentry. "Down the stretch, Dallas wasn't going to let Grant have the lane, so they had to help on him and leave Jud open. We got him the ball, and he stepped up and hit the shots."

    Jerry Stackhouse led Detroit with 15 points, while Bison Dele added 13 and nine rebounds and Grant Hill had 14 points and nine assists.

    Hill said that pulling the game out was made more important by Wednesday's embarrassing collapse against Toronto. Detroit led that game by five points in the final minute before losing.

    "This would have been an awfully tough one to lose," Hill said. "But this shows that we were able to put Wednesday behind us. Now, we just have to put this one behind us and get ready for Utah."

    Michael Finley led Dallas with 18 points and eight assists. The Mavericks have lost three in a row.

    "Buechler killed us. They found the open guy, and he delivered on the three-point baskets," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "I give a lo of credit to my team for hanging in there and coming back to give us the chance to win."

    Detroit led for most of the first half, and expanded the margin to 57-41 when Jerry Stackhouse hit a 40-foot jumper at the buzzer. Stackhouse had 13 points off the bench in the half, while Hill had 10.

    Dallas went on a 19-2 run early in the third quarter to pull within 61-60, led by two 3-pointers from Steve Nash.

    Dallas took a 74-73 lead on Dirk Nowitzki's driving layup with 9:55 to play, and the Pistons struggled to get the defensive stops they needed.

    Buechler hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 82, and after Gary Trent hit one of two free throws, Buechler hit another 3 to put Detroit up by two with 2:43 to go.

    Hubert Davis tied the game, and after Christian Laettner was stripped of the ball, Finley put Dallas back in front 87-85 with a short jumper.

    Dele tied the game yet again, and after Buechler forced a turnover, Dele hit two free throws to give Detroit the lead with 56 seconds to go.

    Davis missed a 3-pointer over Buechler, with the rebound bouncing out of bounds, and Buechler sealed the game with yet another 3-pointer.

    Notes: Detroit TV announcer George Blaha missed the game with the flu. It was the first game he had missed a game due to illness in 24 years. ... After not playing at all in Wednesday's game against New Jersey, John Williams started Friday against Detroit. ... Detroit honored Mark Aguirre at halftime of Friday's game as part of its season-long tribute to the 1988-89 title-winning "Bad Boys".

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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