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Pistons Win With a Full House

Pro basketball: Hill leads Detroit over Clippers before rare sellout.

March 10, 1997|CHRIS BAKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Michael Jordan may be the NBA's best player, but Grant Hill is getting up there in popularity.

The Clippers sell out the Sports Arena about as often as there isn't a traffic jam on the San Diego Freeway, but Hill and the Detroit Pistons helped the Clippers attract their second sellout of the season Saturday. Jordan and the Bulls drew the other sellout in November.

Hill didn't disappoint, getting 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists as the Pistons extended the Clippers' losing streak to four games with a 91-85 victory before 16,021.

"Nobody's in Michael's category," Clipper Coach Bill Fitch said of Hill, who started his third consecutive All-Star game last month in Cleveland. "He may be one of the heirs apparent, but there's nobody in this league in Michael's category."

Charles Outlaw, who was starting his eighth consecutive game, was assigned to check Hill, who was averaging a team-high 21.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and seven assists.

How do you stop Hill?

"The same thing you do to stop other people, play D," Outlaw said. "He's a good player, he's an all-star and you try to play D the way you know how. I can't tell you my secrets."

Outlaw did a good job against Hill, who made seven of 14 shots.

"I thought Bo did a good job and the guys that filled in for Bo did a good job," Fitch said.

Off to the best start in franchise history, the Pistons (45-16) have the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference and need only one more victory to match last season's total of 46 victories.

The NBA's second-best defensive team, the Pistons have held 55 of 61 opponents under 100 points.

"They're very good," Fitch said. "They're very consistent. They haven't been blown out. Even when they lose they're right in it."

Detroit guard Joe Dumars, who missed seven of his first 10 shots, made two three-pointers as the Pistons, playing their third game in four nights, used a 10-0 run to take a 74-66 lead with 7:35 remaining in the fourth quarter. Dumars made seven of 14 shots and had a team-high 23 points.

Clipper rookie center Lorenzen Wright lasted only 11 minutes in the first half before giving way to Rodney Rogers. Wright couldn't check forward Otis Thorpe, who made six of nine shots and had 15 points and eight rebounds.

Rogers, who missed 25 of 35 shots in his last four games while playing with a mask to protect his broken nose, made six of 13 shots and had 17 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes as a reserve. It was the most he has played since losing his starting job to Outlaw.

"Early in the game, Thorpe really worked our rookie over, but I thought Rodney came in and played one of his better ballgames up front as a center," Fitch said .

Loy Vaught, who made his last five shots in Thursday night's one-point loss to the Orlando Magic, made his first five shots against the Pistons before missing a dunk.

Vaught made seven of 10 shots and had 14 points and five rebounds in the first half as the Clipper took a two-point halftime lead.

Vaught missed six of seven shots in the third quarter and the Clippers were outscored 21-17. Vaught, who had 23 points and 14 rebounds, missed 13 of his last 18 shots.

"I hit a very rough patch shooting-wise, but Rodney had a good night," Vaught said. "We just didn't make plays and I feel very responsible because my shot just kind of left me and I don't know why. It's a tough thing to figure out."

Clipper guard Malik Sealy, who had shot 35% in his last five games, took extra shooting practice before the game.

"I have a little glitch in my shot," Sealy said.

Sealy missed seven of 11 shots and had nine points in 32 minutes.

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