INDIANAPOLIS, May 30 (Ticker) --
In a defensive-minded series, Richard Hamilton
continues to be the exception to the rule.
Hamilton scored a playoff career-high 33 points as the Detroit
Pistons captured pivotal Game Five of the Eastern Conference
finals with an 83-65 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Detroit took a 3-2 lead in the series and can earn its first
trip to the NBA Finals since 1990 with a victory at home in Game
Six on Tuesday. The Pistons rode the hot hand of Hamilton
while clamping down on the Pacers.
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Rasheed Wallace and Detroit will try to eliminate Indiana in Game 6.
Ron Hoskins/NBAE/Getty Images
"Rip played a big game," said Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace
who collected 22 points and eight rebounds. "There's nothing
new, he's been doing it this whole series and the last series.
He's pretty much been our flow on offense."
Hamilton has topped the 20-point plateau in seven straight games
and surpassed a 30-point effort in Game Four of the Eastern
Conference semifinals against New Jersey.
"I always learned and definitely learned from playing from coach
Doug Collins playing in Washington, that I have to keep
moving," Hamilton said. "I just keep moving, I have a lot of
energy. I just try not to stay in the same spot."
The Pistons never trailed and Hamilton scored five quick points
to snap a 35-35 tie late in the second quarter.
Hamilton, who made his first four shots of the third quarter,
took a feed from Chauncey Billups
for a layup and was fouled.
The ensuing free throw put Detriot ahead 53-42 with 6:27 to go.
Indiana cut into a 16-point deficit and pulled within 64-59 on
jumper with 8:32 remaining. Wallace answered with
four points in an 8-0 surge that put the Pistons ahead 72-59
with 5:49 left.
Pacers star Jermaine O'Neal
finished with only 11 points and six
rebounds - his lowest totals in the series. O'Neal underwent
an MRI prior to the game that revealed heavy swelling on his
bruised left knee.
"They played aggressive, but we didn't share the ball tonight,"
said O'Neal, who refused to use his knee as an excuse. "We tried
to make 1-on-1 plays on the perimeter and that made it tough on
After getting blasted in Game Five, Detroit made an adjustment
by making sure Wallace got his touches on post-up opportunities.
Wallace made 8-of-17 shots and also helped open things up for
"I think every game we go into, we're trying to establish an
inside presence," Detroit coach Larry Brown said. "When we take
a lot of threes, we have a tendency to fail. Once you get it
inside a little bit, you can get people involved."
Indiana shot just under 33 percent (25-of-76), was 4-of-21 from
the arc and had 13 shots blocked. Ron Artest
made just 4-of-15
shots and Austin Croshere
- the spark in Game Four with 14
points - missed all seven shots and scored two points.
"It was certainly a tough night from start to finish," Indiana
coach Rick Carlisle said. "Looking at the stat sheet, I've got
to say I take the blame for this one myself. I didn't have the
guys ready to play this type of game."
"We had a feeling they were going to try (Croshere) again since
they had success with it so we were ready for it," Wallace said.
While Hamilton carried the Pistons' offense, shooting guard
counterpart Reggie Miller
was unable to keep up. The
38-year-old Miller did not have a basket after the first quarter
and finished with only five points.
"I don't think it was a letdown, but obviously we didn't play
with the same energy that we played with in Detroit," Miller
said. "Most or much of our principles went out the window