AUBURN HILLS, Mich, May 2 (Ticker) -- Jerry Stackhouse
was on his
way to one of the great flops in playoff history until he
decided to do something about it.
Stackhouse's go-ahead lane jumper with 1:43 remaining -- his
first basket of the game -- lifted the Detroit Pistons to an
85-82 victory over the Toronto Raptors and their first playoff
series victory in 11 years.
The second-seeded Pistons won the Eastern Conference first-round
series in five ugly, hard-fought games. They await the winner
of the Boston-Philadelphia series, with Game One on Sunday at
"A lot of people picked us to finish last in the East, so to
advance through to the second round is great," said Pistons
forward Corliss Williamson
. "If we continue to work hard,
there's no telling how far we can go."
NBA TV highlights from|
E.piphany of the Day
Time and time again, Corliss Williamson came up huge for the Pistons on Thursday night.
In a pair of losses in Toronto, Stackhouse scored just 26 points
on 8-of-28 shooting. The poor play carried into this contest
as Detroit's leading scorer missed his first eight shots and the
Pistons found themselves trailing late by four points with less
than four minutes to go.
Detroit battled back for a 79-79 tie and went to Stackhouse, who
dribbled left to right into the lane, pulled up and sank a
12-foot jumper over Chris Childs
that gave the Pistons the lead
"I knew Stack would hit a big shot sometime," Pistons coach Rick
Carlisle said. "He got an angle on Childs. That was a huge
"Rick knew I was struggling but he gave me the chance,"
Stackhouse said. "I finally got it to go down. It was the only
shot that mattered."
Neither team scored for over a minute and the Raptors deflected
a pass out of bounds, leaving the Pistons just two seconds on
the shot clock. After a timeout, Stackhouse inbounded from
underneath the basket to Williamson, who had muscled inside of
. Williamson's layup gave Detroit an 83-79 lead
with 26 seconds to go.
"I told him I was coming to him and we he came off that curl, he
was going to get it," Stackhouse said.
"It was a battle of wills and Corliss had a strong will
tonight," Carlisle said.
Childs stepped out of bounds with 22 seconds left, but the
Pistons still were not clear. The Raptors twice fouled
Stackhouse, who had been 31-of-32 from the line in the series.
However, he split the pair of shots both times.
In between, Toronto got a 3-pointer from Dell Curry
Stackhouse's second free throws with 10.7 seconds to go, the
Raptors had a chance to tie. But Childs forced a running
3-pointer trying to draw a foul and the Pistons rebounded and
dribbled out the clock.
Detroit had lost six straight playoff series since beating
Boston in the 1991 conference semifinals, the last days of the
"Bad Boys." For stretches of this series, however, the Pistons
were just bad.
"It was big for us to get through this series. It's new to a
lot of them," Carlisle said. "Stack has had playoff experience,
but I don't think he's had a Game Five of a deciding series. I
think this will settle us down for the next series. Everybody,
not just Stack."
Stackhouse scored just five points on 1-of-10 shooting. He got
help from Williamson, the Sixth Man Award winner who scored 23
on 10-of-15 from the field.
"There just weren't any lanes opening up for me to get my
shots," said Stackhouse, who had seven assists. "So I tried to
focus on creating and playing defense."
"Jerry's hit big shots all year," Williamson said. "Even if he
struggles for three quarters, we have a lot of confidence in
him. That's what happens. All of a sudden he shows up and
makes a big shot. He's been our leader all season."
The Raptors played the last six weeks without their leader,
injured superstar guard Vince Carter
. After losing 17 of 18,
they won 12 of their last 14 without Carter to make the
playoffs, then nearly upended the Pistons.
"When we look back on the season, we'll see that maybe we should
have done things better early," Childs said. "We have to make
sure next year we don't put ourselves in this position."
"I learned so much about what the game is about this season,"
Raptors forward Antonio Davis
said. "You have to prepare your
mind as well as your body. This showed us how important it is
to be playing at home. If the situation had been the other way
around, I'm sure we'd be the ones moving on."
Curry scored 14 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. He had
scored 11 points in the first four games of the series. Childs
scored 16 points and Keon Clark
added 15 for Toronto.
A jumper by Childs tied it, 73-73, and Curry made a jumper and
two free throws for a four-point lead with 3:36 remaining.
, who scored 13 points, drew fouls on consecutive
possessions and made all four free throws to tie it with 3:01 to
Childs drove for a layup and the Raptors fouled Ben Wallace
an offensive rebound. But the 42 percent free throw shooter,
who had made just 2-of-8 from the line to that point, sank both
to tie it, 79-79, with 2:01 left.
"It's been a tough series," Stackhouse said. "They took us to
the brink but our guys stepped up and played when we had to."
scored 14 points and Jon Barry
added 12 for the
Pistons, who shot 44 percent (31-of-70) and surrendered just six
points on 12 turnovers.
scored 10 points and Davis added nine and 12
rebounds for the Raptors, who shot 42 percent (30-of-72) and
gave up 15 points on 18 turnovers.
"We had opportunities down the stretch, but they capitalized on
their opportunities," Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said. "We
didn't shoot well. In this game, we turned it over. A lot of
our turnovers were in trying to force a pass. It came down to
some little minute things."
The Raptors carried the momentum of the previous two games and
opened a 24-15 lead late in the first quarter before Williamson
and Barry came off the bench to score Detroit's next 21 points,
closing the deficit to 37-36.
"I thought the tempo picked up when Jon Barry and Corliss got in
there," Carlisle said.
Toronto held a 48-46 halftime edge but scored just 11 points in
the third quarter and trailed, 63-59, entering the final period.