Hamilton set the tempo by scoring 15 of his 27 points during one first-quarter stretch, and the Pistons hardly missed Chauncey Billups in their 92-68 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Thursday night.
"I think that our game plan coming into the game was to try to hit first more than anything. Be the aggressor. Don't be backpedaling," Hamilton said. "A lot of times when we play teams like this, we kind of ease our way into the game. I wanted to make a statement from the beginning, to tell the guys on the team: 'Yo! I'm coming at these dudes. You better come on with me."'
In one span, Hamilton outscored the Hornets 15-6 to turn a one-point deficit into a 22-14 lead. The Pistons never trailed again.
"We just wanted to make a statement from the beginning of the game, control the tempo," Hamilton said. "I knew I had to be aggressive but I had to figure out when to take shots, when to get my teammates open and things like that."
Billups, who missed his second straight game with a strained right calf, was impressed with the way his backcourt mate took over a leadership role.
"Rip is our No. 1 option even when I'm out there," said Billups, who is expected to miss about 10 more days. "For him, to have me down, he knows that he has to come up really big, be super-aggressive and do some things that sometimes he might not be accustomed to doing."
Detroit coach Flip Saunders has seen more of that from Hamilton lately.
"He's really stepped up vocally a lot more so than he had, even as far as a year ago," Saunders said.
Of course, Hamilton also has the basketball skills to go with it -- as he showed by shooting 6-of-7 during his scoring streak.
"When Rip gets in that mode where he gets a couple and you see he's got that bounce in his step, what you do is you let him go," Saunders said.
The Pistons snapped a three-game losing streak as the Hornets were unable to climb out of a 26-point halftime hole without starters Chris Paul (sprained right ankle), Peja Stojakovic (back surgery) and David West (right elbow surgery).
New Orleans got within 75-63 after Cedric Simmons' two-handed, alley-oop jam early in the fourth quarter. The Hornets then missed three shots that would have cut the deficit to 10 points or less.
Jannero Pargo led the Hornets with 16 points, Desmond Mason added 15 and reserve Devin Brown scored 14. Tyson Chandler grabbed 16 rebounds for New Orleans, which lost for the 10th time in its last 12 games.
The Hornets, who rank last in the NBA in scoring, had their lowest output of the season.
"If you don't come out and play hard every night, you're going to get killed," said Hornets guard Bobby Jackson, who made a brief return after missing 16 games with a cracked left rib. "We didn't have that type of energy all through the first half and it showed.
"We've got to do things to get us over the hump, and we're all we've got in this locker room. We've got to stick together, we've got to play hard, we've got to go out and do the things as a team that's going to help us get better."
Jackson scored seven points in 10 minutes before leaving in the second quarter. He said he expects to play again Saturday when Indiana comes to Oklahoma City.
"I'm a warrior. I want to play any time," Jackson said. "I didn't want to come out. I wanted to play more. But they're bringing me along slowly."
- Rookie C Hilton Armstrong, who hit the game-winning free throw and had career-bests with 17 points and nine rebounds in a 100-99 win at Detroit on Nov. 15, didn't play until the beginning of the fourth quarter.
- The Pistons avoided their first four-game losing streak since Jan. 18-24, 2005
- Mason, one of the Hornets' two remaining starters, went to the locker room with an apparent injury with 5:27 left in the third quarter but returned to the scorer's table before the 3-minute mark.
- Detroit led 58-32 at halftime.