BOSTON, May 10 (Ticker) -- The worst offensive game in NBA postseason history nearly had a classic finish.


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Jerry Stackhouse's potential game-winning 3-pointer was a fraction of a second too late as the Boston Celtics won the lowest scoring game in playoff history, 66-64 over the Detroit Pistons to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Detroit and Boston shattered the lowest combined score in postseason history, falling a dozen points shy of the previous mark of 170, which was reached three times.

Both teams posted their lowest postseason total in franchise history and tied a league record by combing for just 60 points after halftime. The Celtics set an NBA mark for futility in a half with just 29 points in the final 24 minutes.

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Paul Pierce's free throws with 5.9 seconds remaining turned out to be crucial.
Jesse D. Garrabrant
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"We wanted to keep the game tempo and keep the game in the mid 80's or low 80's," Detroit coach Rick Carlisle said. "That would be good for us on the road. It was a slugfest. Boston shoots the ball so well in this building sometimes it's scary. I'm happy with the way the tempo of the game was."

"We're all paid to win basketball games," Boston coach Jim O'Brien said. "It's not a dance theater. If you get a 'W,' you go home with a big grin on your face. So I'm very, very happy."

Neither team led by more than six points and the game featured 13 ties before Antoine Walker made a layup to give the Celtics the lead for good, 58-56, with 2:37 to go.

The teams traded baskets twice before Kenny Anderson buried a pair of clutch free throw to give Boston a 64-60 lead with 11.7 seconds to go. But Clifford Robinson responded with a hurried jumper to halve the lead five seconds later.

Paul Pierce scored six of his 19 points in the final two minutes and sank a pair of free throws to give the Celtics a 66-62 lead with just 5.9 seconds left.

But Anderson inexplicably fouled Chucky Atkins on a 3-point attempt with 2.8 seconds remaining. Atkins made the first two free throws but intentionally missed his final attempt.

The rebound bounced high off the floor before Stackhouse corralled it behind the 3-point line on the right wing. He turned and banked a 3-pointer over a pair of defenders, but the shot left his hand just after time expired.

"I was excited when I saw the ball get tapped out because I knew we had a chance to get a look at a three," Stackhouse said. "Unfortunately, it hung up in the air a little too long and the shot was late."

"It just bounced too high up in the air, which ate up the clock," Carlisle said. "Stack knew what to do with it when he got it. And he hit a great shot. I guess it was clearly late, so it was the right call."

The officials immediately waved off the shot and Boston survived a scare to take the edge in the best-of-seven series.

"Tough games come down to last second plays, unfortunately we were one second too short," Stackhouse said. "We can't feel too bad. It was a defensive battle and it came down to the couple of last possessions."

Anderson had 17 points and Walker added 16 and eight rebounds as the Celtics improved 4-0 at the FleetCenter in the postseason.

Tony Battie collected 11 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, which shot 35 percent (27-of-78) from the floor, including 2-of-19 from 3-point range, and committed 18 turnovers.

"It was a great defensive struggle with two teams that started out on October 2 realizing that defense wins," O'Brien said. "It was a shame that somebody had to lose that."

"They took away some of the things that we do very well but we were also very good defensively," Walker said. "We also battled them and that showed a lot of character for this team. I think we showed that we can play at any level. We can score if we have to score and (we are) able to lock down."

Detroit also shot 35 percent (24-of-69), made 2-of-20 3-pointers and had 20 turnovers.

"When it came down to it, it was turnovers," Carlisle said. "Twenty turnovers is too many in a playoff game. I'm disappointed in the outcome but I thought our effort was good. I don't know how much harder we can play."

Stackhouse finished with 19 points and Corliss Williamson added 15 off the bench as the Pistons remained winless on the road in the playoffs.

Ben Wallace scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting and grabbed a career playoff-high 21 rebounds.

In a game filled with offensive futility, the worst stretch came at the stert of the third quarter, when neither team made a basket for nearly six minutes.

The Celtics had a 37-33 lead at halftime and Battie opened the third period with 1-of-2 free throws. Stackhouse added a pair of free throws with 8:39 to go, but neither team would score again until Williamson made a layup at 6:13 to bring Detroit within 38-37.

Boston did not make its first basket of the second half until Battie made a layup with 4:34 remaining. The teams combined for just 26 points on 8-of-28 shooting in the third quarter and went into the final period tied at 48.