AUBURN HILLS, Mich., May 5 (Ticker) -- With some unexpected help from Michael Curry, the Detroit Pistons beat the Boston Celtics at their own game.

Curry scored a surprising 15 points and was part of a record-setting 3-point attack as the Pistons handled the Celtics, 96-84, in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

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Curry is a journeyman who has found a home in Detroit. He played all 82 games during the season and was Detroit's starting small forward, averaging a meager four points per game and making just seven 3-pointers the entire campaign.

Ben Wallace and the Pistons did not fold to the Celtics' pressure.
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"You can be a great talent, but to be a player you have to understand your role," Curry said. "My role is to be a tough defender and a leader. I've been a leader my whole life. I'm used to this being my role, and I accept it."

But the 6-6 swingman established a playoff career high and made three 3-pointers. Two of them came in the third quarter, when the Pistons broke open the game and built a 16-point lead.

"I was asked before the series to be more aggressive because we know to beat them, we were going to have to spread the floor, and it helps to have another shooter," Curry said. "Who knows? I might not shoot another 3-pointer for the rest of the way, but I know I'll be playing defense."

"We didn't expect Michael Curry to start hitting that many 3-pointers, but that's playoff basketball," Celtics forward Antoine Walker said. "Guys step up and do things that they're not supposed to do."

Curry's long-distance shooting was infectious as Detroit set a franchise playoff mark with 12 3-pointers in 25 attempts. Cliff Robinson tied a club record with six and scored 30 points and Jerry Stackhouse had a terrific all-around game with 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

"After I hit a few, they kept leaving me open," Robinson said. "The way their defense is set up, you're going to get a lot of shots like that."

Boston was 19-of-29 from the arc in Friday's win and has made the 3-pointer the top weapon in its offense. But the Celtics were just 6-of-19 from downtown and instead found themselves being attacked from long range.

"They hit us with a little of our own medicine," Walker said. "That's how they play. They do a lot of things like we do. They have good shooters and they spread the floor."

The offensive outburst was unexpected from Curry, who has carved a niche for himself with defense and leadership. Those abilities got him matched up with Paul Pierce, Boston's All-Star swingman who scored a career-high 46 points Friday in dispatching Philadelphia.

Curry was up to the task, limiting Pierce to 17 points on 7-of-17 shooting. After making eight 3-pointers Friday, Pierce was 0-of-3 from the arc.

"We felt Curry was going to be more of a factor this series and a guy we were going to have to use more just because of his activity defensively," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "You can't stop Paul Pierce from getting shots, but you have to try to make it as difficult as possible. I thought Mike's effort was exceptional. He just worked to try to get him off his spots."

"We had other players being aggressive," Pierce said. "They took the shots that were there in the offense. You can't complain about that. I don't think they did a job on me to where they were doubling me. I had my opportunities and I took advantage of when possible. It's more than just a one-man team. I don't have to take all the shots."

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday in Detroit.

Walker scored 20 points but had two crucial mistakes down the stretch that cut short a rally from a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit. Kenny Anderson added 17 points and Eric Williams 14.

Three-pointers by Jon Barry and Robinson gave the Pistons the lead for good at 46-40 late in the second quarter. Stackhouse added a jumper off a beautiful spin move and a jumper to make it 50-41 just before halftime.

"We did a good job at swinging the ball and finding open guys for jump shots," said Robinson, who was 6-of-10 from the arc. "I just happened to be on the recieving end of those quite a few times."

"When we collapsed on defense in the lane, they did a good job of swinging the ball from one side to the other to get wide-open shots," Pierce said. "They took advantage of it."

Curry drilled a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 66-55 with 3:48 left in the third period. While continuing to contain Pierce, he added another as the buzzer sounded, making it 78-62.

"MC was big tonight," Stackhouse said. "He was able to hit some threes. They were sagging off him and allowing him to get his feet set, and he stepped in with confidence and knocked those shots down. He was huge, and he did a great job on Paul Pierce."

A jumper by Curry gave Detroit its largest lead at 84-64 early in the fourth quarter before Boston rallied. Anderson scored seven points and Pierce the other four in an 11-0 run that made it 86-77 with 6:29 to go.

The Celtics had a chance to get closer, but Walker rushed a 3-pointer. Stackhouse hit a one-handed runner -- Detroit's first points in nearly five minutes -- to stop the surge.

Walker answered with a tip-in but kicked away his dribble, leading to a free throw by Chucky Atkins and a jumper by Robinson for a 91-79 advantage with four minutes left. A 3-pointer by Rodney Rogers made it 91-84 with 2:41 remaining, but he threw away a pass to end a long empty possession by Boston, which did not score again.

Detroit shattered the club playoff record of nine 3-pointers, set three times in the first round against Toronto. Robinson tied Bill Laimbeer's team record of six 3-pointers set in Game 2 of the 1990 Finals against Portland -- and Robinson, who was a member of the Trail Blazers at the time.

"We just didn't play Celtics' defense tonight," Anderson said. "They shot the ball very well. If they keep shooting like that, it's going to be tough."

Corliss Williamson scored 10 points, Ben Wallace grabbed 12 rebounds and Atkins handed out eight assists for the Pistons, who shot 51 percent (37-of-73) overall.

The Celtics shot just 37.5 percent (30-of-80).

"Certainly we need to be hitting on all cylinders to beat a good team like the Pistons," Boston coach Jim O'Brien said. "I have every confidence in the world that Antoine and Paul will have a very, very strong series."