AUBURN HILLS, Mich., April 24 (Ticker) -- Jerry Stackhouse still remembers how to score.

Stackhouse scored 22 of his career playoff-high 31 points in the second half as the Detroit Pistons rallied for a 96-91 victory over the Toronto Raptors and took a commanding 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Last season, Stackhouse averaged 29 points on 24 shots per game, earning an All-Star berth that really meant nothing as the Pistons lost 50 games and missed the playoffs.

This season, first-year coach Rick Carlisle convinced Stackhouse to trust his teammates and share the ball. Stackhouse averaged 21 points on 17 shots and failed to make the All-Star team, but the Pistons won 52 games and their first Central Division title in 12 years.

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Jerry Stackhouse scored 13 points in the third quarter, half of his team's output.
Tom Pidgeon
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"It's been a tough year for him in a lot of ways," Carlisle said. "Even though we won, it's a different style of play. We've asked him to change his game more radically than anyone I can remember in 15 years. He's had multiple games in double-figure assists. His shot-making has been there when we needed it. He has had an excellent year."

On many occasions, Stackhouse has allowed a lesser-known teammate to grab the glory. But with home-court advantage and control of the series on the line, the erstwhile gunner showed he still knows how to take over a game.

"That's been my mentality all my life, so it was not hard to revert back to that," said Stackhouse, who made 8-of-22 shots and 11-of-12 free throws. "It's such a great feeling. It's kinda the cycle turned, with me showing so much trust in these guys all season allowing them to step up and make plays.

"When it's key situations like this, everybody is looking for me to make plays. That's what it's all about, a little give and take. Teams have to play all these guys honest now. Everybody on this team commands respect now, so it makes it a little easier in these situations. They didn't know what to do."

Stackhouse scored 13 points in the third quarter, including eight in a row that gave Detroit a 72-65 lead late in the period.

"Jerry was just tremendous," teammate Clifford Robinson said. "He was aggressive and he got to the line when we needed points. He got off to a slow start, but Stack is a scorer. He's not going to get discouraged just because he misses a few shots early."

In the final 5 1/2 minutes, Stackhouse made three 3-pointers. The first erased an 83-80 deficit with 5:17 left. The second followed Jon Barry's 3-pointer and gave Detroit an 89-85 lead with 3:28 to go. And the third came right in the face of Jerome Williams and widened the advantage to 94-87 with 2:09 remaining.

"We struggled tonight, so we really needed him," said Pistons forward Ben Wallace, the star of Game One. "He put us on his shoulders and carried us down the stretch."

"He made some big shots, there is no question about it," Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said. "He's a big-time player. He hit a three right in front of our bench with JYD (Williams) all over him. That three hurt. Just because he is making other people better doesn't mean that he should give up his offense. That would be stupid."

The Pistons survived a potential tying 3-pointer by Alvin Williams in the final seconds and became the first team in the 2002 playoffs to open a 2-0 lead. They can wrap up their first playoff series win since 1991 on Saturday with a victory at Toronto.

Barry and Chucky Atkins scored 13 points apiece and Wallace grabbed 15 rebounds for second-seeded Detroit, which shot just 40.5 percent (30-of-74) from the field and was beaten on the boards, 50-33. However, the Pistons compensated in other areas, making 27-of-33 free throws and committing just nine turnovers.

Chris Childs had 22 points and 14 assists and Antonio Davis had 21 points and 14 rebounds for the seventh-seeded Raptors, who were much sharper than they were in Sunday's blowout loss but still came up short and are one loss from the end of a tumultuous season.

"I thought today we finally woke up," Childs said. "We had to play a lot harder. The first game, we played like it was a regular-season game. We were just going to go through the motions; you can't do that."

Toronto shot 47.5 percent (38-of-80) but made just 11-of-16 foul shots and committed 13 turnovers.

After Stackhouse's flurry late in the third quarter, the Raptors trailed 72-67 heading into the final period. But consecutive baskets by Hakeem Olajuwon and a drive by Childs gave Toronto an 83-80 lead with 5:32 to play.

Davis answered Stackhouse's 3-pointer with a long jumper that beat the shot clock. But Barry and Stackhouse connected from the arc to give Detroit the lead for good.

"They didn't panic when we made our runs. They just continued to go to their go to guy in Jerry Stackhouse, who played very well tonight," Davis said. "He stepped up when his team needed him to and hit some big shots."

After Stackhouse's last 3-pointer, Davis had a pair of baskets to cut the deficit to 94-91 with 34 seconds to go. The Raptors rebounded a miss by Cliff Robinson but chose not to call timeout. Alvin Williams got an open look from the right wing but left his shot short. Barry rebounded and made the clinching free throws with six seconds left.

Corliss Williamson and Robinson each scored 10 points for the Pistons. Jerome Williams scored 13 points for the Raptors.

Game Two started similar to Game One, with a former Piston presenting a current one with a season-ending award. This time, it was Vinnie Johnson and Sixth Man Award winner Williamson.

That was where the similarities ended. Childs and Keon Clark, who combined for three points in the opener, scored eight apiece in the first quarter as Toronto grabbed a 30-27 lead. Childs' third 3-pointer widened the advantage to 39-29 with 8:58 left in the second period.

"In the first half, they came out and gave us a huge effort," Stackhouse said. "They were making shots and had us on our heels a little bit." The Raptors still held a 49-42 lead with 1:39 to go on a frightening reverse windmill dunk by Clark, who had 12 points and nine rebounds. The Pistons closed to 49-46 at halftime and took a 51-50 lead early in the third period when Stackhouse made two free throws after being flagrantly fouled by Childs.