ORLANDO, May 2 (Ticker) -- Chauncey Billups
and Ben Wallace
transformed the Detroit Pistons from desperate to determined.
Billups scored 18 of his 40 points in the first quarter and
Wallace had 20 points and 17 rebounds as the Pistons forced a
seventh game in their Eastern Conference first-round series with
a 103-88 victory over the Orlando Magic.
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It was Detroit's first road playoff win since April 27, 1997 and
could not have come at a better time. With a win at home
Sunday, the Pistons can become the seventh team in NBA history
to erase a 3-1 deficit and win a seven-game series.
"A lot of teams down 3-1 don't have the desire to come back and
do what we have," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "Our guys
knew that this was a deep hole, but not an impossible one. But
we haven't accomplished anything until we walk off (our) court
with a win. That's the only thing that matters."
Three days ago, Detroit appeared on its way to becoming the
third top-seeded team ever to lose in the first round. But it
romped to a 98-67 home win Wednesday and got career postseason
performances from a pair of former Magic players Friday.
Billups had made just 4-of-28 3-pointers in the series but sank
five in the first period, when he Pistons took the lead for
good. He had timely baskets the rest of the way, scoring 11
points in the fourth quarter. He was 7-of-14 from the arc.
"Tonight, my shot was falling early, and I wanted to keep it
going," Billups said. "And Ben got every rebound."
Wallace, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, made his
presence felt with five blocks. He continued to contribute at
the offensive end by making 6-of-11 shots.
"Chauncey stepped up big for us," Wallace said. "He's definitely
carried this team, and when he comes to play like that its
tough to stop him. You have to pay so much attention to him,
that it allows everybody else to get his game off."
The Pistons held a 90-80 lead with 3:20 to go before the Magic
resorted to intentionally fouling Wallace, a 45 percent
free-throw shooter. He made just 2-of-10 from the line over the
next minute, but Orlando could not cut into Detroit's
"When they do that, they just energize me to go on the defensive
end and play a little harder," Wallace said. "I think it makes
them hurry their offense, and after they do that, they're
thinking, 'If I miss this shot, I have to foul,' and they're
really not concentrating on their shot."
Superstar Tracy McGrady
had 37 points and 11 rebounds for the
Magic, who have gone from determined to desperate. They have
not won a playoff series in seven years and are on the verge of
a monumental collapse.
"I don't think we played as smart or as well as we've played in
the past," Magic coach Doc Rivers said. "I thought this was the
first game we acted young a little bit and got frustrated and
they took advantage of it."
McGrady, who pronounced the series as over after Orlando opened
its 3-1 lead, made just 11-of-28 shots and went scoreless for
the first nine minutes of the final period. He again did not get
much help as rookies Gordan Giricek
and Drew Gooden
only other Magic players in double figures.
"Our players are aware of T-Mac's comments after Game Four,"
Carlisle said. "It's a motivating factor. Our team is a proud
group. But, at the same time we have a lot of respect for
"We've got to do it the hard way, and that's on the road,"
McGrady said. "We knew we were in for a fight. Those guys came
out in the first quarter and set the tone right away."
Billups, who has developed into one of the top clutch shooters
in the league, wasted no time establishing himself. His fifth
3-pointer of the opening period beat the buzzer and gave Detroit
a 30-21 lead.
For most of the next two quarters, the Pistons relied on their
league-best defense led by Wallace. After the Magic pulled
within 46-43, Michael Curry
had a three-point play and Billups
drilled another 3-pointer to rebuild the lead to nine points
late in the first half.
Layups by Corliss Williamson
and Richard Hamilton
18-footer by Wallace pushed the lead to 73-58 with 2:03 left.
Hamilton scored 22 points.
A 3-pointer by Pat Garrity
cut the deficit to 81-74 with 7:16
remaining, but the Magic got no closer. Wallace had two free
throws and a follow dunk to push the margin to 87-76 with 4:25
Wallace made just 8-of-22 free throws, including three empty
trips when the Magic sent him there. But after a drive by
McGrady made it 92-84 with 2:15 left, Billups scored nine points
the rest of the way.
"Once again we dug ourselves a hole that we really couldn't get
out of," McGrady said. "It's tough to dig yourself out of that
hole, and when you get close, you can't really get over that
Detroit shot 43 percent (32-of-74), made 32-of-51 free throws
and committed just 10 turnovers.
Giricek had 12 points and eight boards and Gooden added 11 and
12 for the Magic, who shot 39.5 percent (32-of-81), including
2-of-18 from the arc, and committed 17 turnovers.