AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons have a hard time gearing up for games at times with little at stake a month before the playoffs, comfortably positioned as the second-seeded team in the Eastern Conference.
San Antonio brought out Detroit's best in the final minutes Friday night.
Richard Hamilton scored seven of his 25 points in the final 21 seconds, lifting the Pistons to an 84-80 victory over the short-handed Spurs.
"It's good to see a team come in here that is going to be vying for a shot at the Finals as we are," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said.
After Rasheed Wallace blocked Tim Duncan's shot with 37 seconds left, Hamilton connected on an off-balance shot from the free-throw line after he was fouled. He made the free throw to give Detroit a four-point lead on the ensuing possession.
Hamilton made two free throws with 11.5 seconds left and two more with 4 seconds remaining, sealing the win.
"I'm never in a lull," Hamilton insisted. "When I don't shoot, people think that something's wrong. We got a lot of All-Stars on this team."
Manu Ginobili agreed.
"On any given game, it can be Rip or Chauncey or Tayshaun Prince or Rasheed," said the Spurs' leading scorer, who was held to nine points. "They executed down the stretch and (Hamilton) made a great shot and one. That's what decides great games."
Just when it seemed San Antonio was worn out, Tony Parker scored eight points as part of a 13-0 run to take the lead on Parker's jumper with 4:22 left.
Two of the NBA's best teams in recent years then took turns with the lead with June-like intensity before Wallace's mid-range jumper put the Pistons ahead for good with 2:05 left.
"Playing San Antonio, it was like a playoff atmosphere with our fans," Hamilton said. "And, we had to give them something to cheer about."
Prince scored 17, Wallace finished with 10 points and three blocks, while Antonio McDyess had six points and a season-high 17 rebounds.
Parker scored 26 and Duncan had 20 points.
"It was a really good game of two good teams that went after each other," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Without their two defensive stoppers on the perimeter, the Spurs played a lot of zone defense and it led to Detroit taking (18) and missing (16) a lot of 3-pointers. The Pistons did, though, take advantage of the zone by scoring 17 points on a season-high 22 offensive rebounds.
"When you're short-handed, you do what you got to do to try to steal a win," Billups said. "And, they almost stole one."
- Former Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson was behind San Antonio's bench again, continuing his informal role as a guest of Popovich.
- The Spurs have lost four straight on the road.
- With Bowen out for kicking New Orleans' Chris Paul, ending his consecutive games streak at 500, Prince took the league lead with his 338th start in a row.
- Detroit swept the season series and has won five of the last seven matchups.
- The Pistons raised more than $400,000 for the Make a Wish Foundation of Michigan, taking donations from 6 a.m. Friday through the end of the game.