|New York vs|
|93 - 94|
Normally, he'd call a timeout and let coach Larry Brown design the final play. This time, however, Billups lowered his head and decided to wing it.
Billups drove downcourt and was fouled with 2.6 seconds left, then made both free throws to give Detroit its first lead since the first quarter. And when Stephon Marbury missed a last-second shot, Detroit walked off with a 94-93 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.
"It was just instinct, and you can't control instinct. He (Brown) told me I made a great play, a smart play," Billups said. "If I didn't catch it on the run, I probably would have called a timeout. But I caught it with so much momentum, I just wanted to attack."
Bouncing back from a pair of poor offensive performances in losses to the Grizzlies and Hawks, Detroit got 29 points from Richard Hamilton, 18 from Rasheed Wallace, 15 from Billups and 14 from Tayshaun Prince to improve to 3-0 in games decided by one point.
Jamal Crawford led New York with 25 points, but his off-balance jumper with six seconds left bounced long and hard off the rim, enabling Billups to take off.
"We didn't call a timeout, so we didn't have a set play," said Crawford, who dribbled the first 20 seconds off the shot clock before pulling up from 19 feet away.
The ball caromed out to the foul line, where Billups took it and ran. Marbury fouled him, and the 91 percent foul shooter calmly sank both shots.
In similar circumstances, Billups was asked, how many times out of 10 would Brown prefer to call a timeout.
"Ten," he replied with a laugh.
The Knicks inbounded to Marbury for a last shot, but he lost control of the ball near the 3-point arc and could only manage to squeeze off a running, underhanded 18-footer that missed as the final buzzer sounded.
"I think it may be tough for all of us to sleep tonight," Crawford said. "It's a tough one to give up."
Marbury scored 18 points and Allan Houston came off the bench to add a season-high 17 for the Knicks, who went with a three-guard alignment of Marbury, Crawford and Houston for much of the fourth quarter while starting small forward Tim Thomas sat on the bench. Thomas scored all 12 of his points in the first half.
The Pistons won on the road for just the fifth time all season and the first in five tries against Eastern Conference opponents.
Crawford hit his first four shots, all 3-pointers, and finished the first half with a buzzer-beating 3 to give New York a 56-40 lead.
Detroit opened the second half with an 11-0 run, and Hamilton's jumper to open the fourth quarter evened the score at 73 -- the first tie since the opening quarter.
No more than six points separated the teams the rest of the way.
Antonio McDyess, traded to Phoenix last January in the deal that brought Marbury to New York, was booed by the sellout crowd of 19,763. ... Asked if Tim Thomas might be in danger of losing his starting job, coach Lenny Wilkens replied: "If he were starting to hurt us, I'd consider it more."