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Pistons might (finally) have multiple All-Stars

| Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2006

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons have had only one All-Star the past three seasons despite being one of the NBA's best teams.

That may soon change.

With the top record in the league, the Pistons might have multiple All-Stars next month for the first time in six years.

Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Detroit's entire starting five should be on the Eastern Conference team Feb. 19 in Houston.

"They have stars," Rivers said Monday before losing to the Pistons, 94-84. "Who is the one guy• Is it Ben Wallace• Is it Chauncey (Billups)• Is it Rip (Hamilton)• You can make a case that Tayshaun (Prince) is the MVP of their team."

"I think all of them should be on the All-Star team. That's how I'm voting. I'm not joking. I'm voting for all five of those guys."

Fans vote for the All-Star starters, and the Pistons are not expected to crack the starting lineup with one player when the polls close Sunday. Head coaches will select the reserves. They're prohibited from voting for their players, and their choices will be announced Feb. 9.

If Detroit (30-5) maintains the best record in conference, Flip Saunders will coach the East.

Ben Wallace hopes to be an All-Star for a fourth straight year, and would like some company.

"We have guys that deserve to go as much or more than me, so at least two of us should be All-Stars," he said. "All-Stars are elite players, and obviously, we're an elite team."

Detroit hasn't had two All-Stars since 2000, when Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse were selected. It hasn't had three since 1992 -- Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman.

The Pistons, who have advanced to the conference finals three straight years, won the 2004 NBA title and fell just short of repeating last year.

Unlike most top teams, they have extraordinary balance. That helps them win but cuts down on individual recognition. Billups and Hamilton are among the best players in the league without an All-Star appearance. This could be their year.

Billups is averaging career highs with 19 points and 8.6 assists. Hamilton is averaging a career-high 21.5 points and is having his best shooting year, 50 percent overall and 45.8 on 3-point shots.

"Nobody cares who gets the glory," Billups said. "We just care about winning and playing for each other, not anyone else."

Billups will be disappointed if only one Pistons player is an All-Star.

"I don't put any energy into it, but people do need to appreciate what we've got here," he said. "But that's not what we're focused on. We want to keep that five number (of losses) at five as long as we can."

Rasheed Wallace hopes coaches don't cast All-Star votes for him.

"Vote for them four, don't vote for me," he said. "I don't want no All-Star votes for two reasons. One, that's not my goal -- I would rather win a championship. Plus, I want to be down on the beach having a couple cocktails with my wife at All-Star break."

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