PHILADELPHIA, May 16 (Ticker) --
Even on a bum ankle, Chauncey Billups
had enough to be a hero - again.
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With pain shooting through his heavily taped sprained ankle,
Billups shot the Detroit Pistons into the Eastern Conference
finals with a 93-89 overtime victory over the Philadelphia
"I'm not afraid to fail," Billups said. "I've failed a lot of
times in my life. I'm not afraid to do that. I'm not afraid to
step up and be the hero, either. That's just me."
The top-seeded Pistons turned back Allen Iverson
, advanced to
the conference finals for the first time in 12 years and will
host the New Jersey Nets in Game One on Sunday.
Billups had been Detroit's leading scorer in the playoffs until
spraining his ankle in the opener. He sat out two games, was
ineffective in limited minutes in Game Four and sat out again in
But with the Pistons staring at the specter of a second straight
Game Seven, Billups decided to give it a go, even if he
couldn't go to the basket.
"I'm probably about 80-85 percent, maybe," Billups said. "I got
elevation back on my shot. The only thing is I was surprised I
was able get past my man, but I wasn't able to explode and
finish. That's where right now I'm limited in a major way, just
to explode and finish on my pick-and-rolls. That's tough. It's
tough to turn the corner like I usually do."
Limited primarily to outside shots, Billups still was the
difference. Playing 40 minutes, he scored nine of his 28 points
in overtime - all on 3-pointers.
"We went into overtime and I just told them right before the
timeout, 'I am about to take this game over,'" Billups said. "I
told them and they were like, 'All right.' I was very, very
aggressive in the overtime. I tried to look for my shot and
just tried to keep the game going."
All season, Billups has been one of the best clutch shooters in
the NBA. He struck again, drilling a 3-pointer with 15 seconds
left that snapped an 89-89 tie and sent the 76ers into the
"I've been in that situation a lot this year," Billups said.
"The thing about me is, I'm just not afraid to fail. A lot of
people don't step up and take those shots because they worry
about missing them. I've been in a situation and missed those
shots time and time again, but it takes a guy that has a lot of
"His ability to rise up and hit long-range shots has been
something that's been a big key for us, particularly in
late-game situations all year," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle
said. "Once again he stepped forward and hit shots."
scored 19 points and Ben Wallace
rebounds as Detroit improved to a sterling 10-0 in overtime this
season. Three of those wins came against Philadelphia,
including two in this series.
"When we came in here tonight, we said, 'This our Game Seven,'"
Hamilton said. "We stuck with it and got the opportunity to win
in the overtime."
"Going into the overtime, nobody wanted to say anything about
it, because you don't want to jinx it," Pistons rookie swingman
said. "You've got to go out there and play. We
started off the right way. We let them get back in it, but
then Chauncey hit one of those shots he's been making all
Once again, Iverson nearly willed his team to victory. Playing
all 53 minutes, the superstar guard scored 38 points, handed out
nine assists and single-handedly erased a six-point deficit in
overtime. But he had very little help and was harassed by the
NBA's best defense into 14-of-33 shooting.
"I feel bad, obviously, because this is another season gone by
and my dream didn't come true," Iverson said. "I need to look
in the mirror at myself. There's a lot more I can do to make us
a better team, playing the game and verbally. There are just a
lot of things that I understand that I have to do to get
better, plus to have a chance to win a championship."
For the second straight game, Philadelphia's Eric Snow
appeared to be a game-winning shot. His 20-footer with 27
seconds left in the fourth quarter gave the Sixers an 81-79
And for the second straight game, Snow was upstaged. Billups
drew a foul from him and calmly sank the tying free throws with
14 seconds remaining, and the teams headed to overtime when the
Sixers could not get off a shot.
Billups drew a sixth foul on Snow and quickly took advantage of
his absence, making a pair of 3-pointers around a follow shot by
. After Iverson missed a jumper, Billups threw a
terrific look-away 60-foot pass to rookie Tayshaun Prince, who
dunked for an 89-83 lead with 2:39 to go, bringing boos from the
crowd at First Union Center.
"One time I got an open look and knocked it down," Billups said.
"Another time, it was a tough shot; I just jabbed him and got
it up. I kind of turned it on a little bit."
Iverson came roaring back, throwing in a short hook, driving for
a layup and taking a long rebound coast to coast for the tying
basket at the 1:12 mark. But he missed a jumper on the next
possession, and could not convert a drive after Billups made his
"In the overtime he brought us back and make some unbelievable
plays," Brown said. "You can't put it all on one kid. It's just
As they did all series, the Pistons got a tremendous lift from
their bench. Corliss Williamson
scored 17 points and Prince
had 14 points and 11 boards and Thomas added 12
and 14 for the Sixers, who were outscored 24-12 from the arc and
31-19 from the line.
"When you know your team has given you what they can, whenever
you ask, and you see their feelings in that dressing room, that
is pretty tough," Sixers coach Larry Brown said.
Keith Van Horn
, Philadelphia's second-leading scorer during the
season, had just two points in 45 minutes, capping an awful
series. He shot just 39 percent (16-of-42) and averaged 7.8
points, reaching double figures once.
Iverson arrived just a half-hour before tip-off due to traffic
but seemed unfazed as he made five of his first six shots. The
Sixers built a 14-point lead, blew it, then regrouped for a
44-36 halftime bulge.
The Pistons again climbed back in it in the third quarter, when
they shot 19 free throws and briefly grabbed the lead before
heading to the fourth period trailing, 64-63.
"When we were up 14 points, we really had an opportunity to take
this game away," Van Horn said. "We let then slowly slip back
Neither team led by more than a bucket until a fadeaway jumper
by Coleman and two from the line by Iverson made it 76-72 with
3:39 to play. Iverson's jumper - his first basket since the
7:49 mark of the third quarter - gave Philadelphia a 79-76 edge,
but Billups zipped a pass to Williamson, who converted a
three-point play that tied it with 1:07 left.