TORONTO, April 29 (Ticker) --
The Detroit Pistons are the latest team to
find out it's no easy task eliminating the Toronto Raptors.
Morris Peterson had a playoff career-high 20 points and Alvin
Williams scored six of his 15 in the final four minutes as the
Raptors evened their Eastern Conference first-round series at
two wins apiece with an 89-83 victory over the Pistons.
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With its season hanging the balance, Toronto responded with
consecutive victories at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors
improved to 5-1 in elimination games over the last two seasons
and forced a decisive Game 5 on Thursday in Detroit.
Alvin Williams had six of his 15 points in the game's last four minutes.|
After dominating the first two games of the series at home, the
Pistons have struggled on the road. Detroit has been inept
offensively for long stretches and has had trouble stopping Toronto
from scoring in key situations.
Much like Game 3, the Raptors took the lead early and did
not relinquish it, but the Pistons made a late run for the
second straight contest.
Toronto led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter and had a
74-65 cushion with 5:18 to play. But Detroit's Jon Barry nailed
a long three-pointer and, after a runner by Peterson, buried another
to make it 76-71 at 4:28.
Jerry Stackhouse made consecutive baskets to bring the Pistons
within 80-77 with 2:16 left. But Antonio Davis buried a
wide-open jumper off a pick-and-roll 16 seconds later and
drew an offensive foul on Stackhouse at the other end.
Williams forced a jumper as the shot clock ran down with just
under a minute to go, but Jerome Williams grabbed the offensive
rebound and Detroit had to foul.
Alvin Williams buried four consecutive free throws and Chris
Childs made 3-of-4 in the final 15 seconds to seal the win for
The Pistons showed little composure for a No. 2 seed as Barry
received a technical foul with 4:10 remaining and Stackhouse
committed a flagrant foul with eight seconds to go. As a
result, they will be forced to return to the Palace of Auburn
"You have to give them credit for winning two games when they
had to," Pistons forward Clifford Robinson said. "But we worked
hard to win home-court advantage and we didn't want it to come
to this point, but they still have to come and beat us on our
Keon Clark set playoff career highs with 19 points and 16
rebounds and Antonio Davis added 10 and five for the Raptors,
who are trying to become the sixth team to rally from an 0-2
deficit to win a best-of-five series.
"It's good to be the underdogs," Clark said. "They are going
home and they should have confidence, but we also have a lot of
confidence right now. We just have to keep on playing our
basketball, which is hard team basketball."
"We found ways to do it again," Davis added. "We've been playing
every game like it's our last, so it will be no different in Game
5. We know what we're capable of, so we just need to do it
Chucky Atkins scored 20 points to lead the Pistons, who shot just
38 percent (28-of-73) and committed 16 turnovers leading to 22
points for the Raptors.
After a dominant performance in Game 2, Stackhouse struggled
for the second straight contest. He scored 15 points on 6-of-18
shooting and committed five turnovers.
"We won at home, they came and won two at home, so now this is
what we won 50 games and our division for -- an
opportunity to be in the position that when it comes down to a
Game 5 situation, it should be in our favor," Stackhouse said.
Corliss Williamson had 14 points and eight rebounds and fellow
reserve Barry added 12. Robinson had 11 points and six assists
and Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace collected 12 rebounds
and two blocks but missed all six of his shots.
Stackhouse scored seven points in the first six minutes as the
Pistons jumped out to a 13-5 lead, but the Raptors scored 12 of
the next 17 points to take the lead and the teams were tied
entering the second period.
"We had a good start with a good lead with good tempo," Detroit
coach Rick Carlisle said. "Then we had a lull in our
shot-making. Our missed shots turned into transition
opportunities, and that ruined our game."
Detroit took the lead for good when Davis opened the second
quarter with a hook shot to spark a 10-0 run. Childs, who had nine
points and five assists, capped the burst with a three-point
play to give Toronto a 33-23 cushion with 6:41 left.
The Raptors had a 46-36 halftime advantage led by Clark, who had
15 points and 13 rebounds in the first 24 minutes.
"I just shot and I was feeling good, so I just kept shooting
until I missed," Clark said. "I had the spark and everybody
rolled off of me."
Toronto had their largest lead, 57-43, after Peterson made a
driving layup with 7:43 left in the third quarter.