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Pistons 103, Nets 99

December 12, 1997

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) _ Keith Van Horn has attracted a lot of fans in his first four NBA games. Brian Williams isn’t one of them.

The Detroit center clashed with the New Jersey Nets rookie forward several times during the Pistons’ 103-99 victory Thursday night, and came away with a cut on his lip and a chip on his shoulder.

``If I get hit on the lip too many more times, I can do endorsements for Michelin,″ Williams said. ``He gave me a backhanded karate chop, and if he wasn’t the Great White Hope, they would have ejected him.″

Williams also was unhappy that a player in his first week would get 13 free-throw attempts.

``I couldn’t believe the calls he’s getting, and he’s only in his first week,″ he said. ``In the summer, I’m going to crack him back, but on the street where I can’t get fined.″

Van Horn didn’t take the discussion to a personal level, but agreed with Williams that the calls were surprising.

``In my first few games, I wasn’t getting those calls,″ he said. ``I’m an aggressive player, and if I’m getting calls like I did tonight, I’m going to keep going after it and keep getting to the line.″

Van Horn had 12 points in each half, but his teammates didn’t fare as well, blowing a 10-point first-quarter lead.

``We got a 10-point lead, and then we sat back and played sloppy,″ Nets coach John Calipari said. ``We got off to that good start because we were scrapping and playing hard. We didn’t keep that up.″

Joe Dumars keyed Detroit’s comeback. Averaging just 7.5 points on the NBA’s lowest scoring team, Dumars scored a season-high 22, all in the second half.

``In the second half, Joe D. was brilliant,″ Pistons coach Doug Collins said. ``You’ve seen him do that throughout the years here, but I was happy for him.″

Dumars has been limited all season by injuries to his hamstring and shoulder, and didn’t go back to his usual post-up game until Thursday night.

``I was able to knock down some shots just to keep us in the game, and that felt good,″ Dumars said. ``I’ve been reluctant to do some things because I haven’t wanted to get hit, but tonight I decided either I was going to get hit and be out again, or I’m going to fight through it.

``I’ve been kind of walking on the game with about half my game and trying to make that work. Tonight was the first time I was able to turn to the second part of my game.″

Collins picked up on Dumars’ willingness to bang immediately, and used it as much as possible.

``Tonight was really the first time that he looked like he wasn’t afraid with his shoulder to bump somebody and create some contact,″ Collins said. ``After that, any time he had a smaller guard on him, I wanted him to do what Joe does, back him down and use his body to get in there.″

And unlike his teammate, Dumars was very impressed by Van Horn.

``I saw him play against the Knicks in the preseason and I could tell that he’s a really, really good player,″ he said. ``He’s going to be a great player in this league.″

Notes: The Nets and Pistons will play for the third time this season Wednesday night at the Meadowlands. Detroit won the first game 96-88 in overtime at the Palace on Nov. 15. ... The Nets lost for just the second time in 10 games when leading at halftime.

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