INDIANAPOLIS, May 15 (Ticker) -- Rasheed Wallace
again proved himself
correct when it came to making good on a guarantee.
Wallace and Chauncey Billups
both had big games and the Detroit
Pistons showed some resiliency of their own in a convincing
89-76 victory over the Indiana Pacers that evened their Eastern
Conference semifinal at 2-2.
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The defending champion Pistons cruised to a victory in the
series opener, then dropped the last two games.
But Wallace had little doubt the Pistons would respond, saying
after Game 3, "We are definitely going back to Detroit with
this thing 2-2, no question about it."
"It was answering the bell. We couldn't afford to go down 3-1
to this team," Wallace said.
"Rasheed would be the first to say that his team backed him up,"
Pistons coach Larry Brown
said. "He's a great teammate and was
taking all the blame for us losing after Games 2 and 3."
Wallace issued a similar guarantee last season after Detroit
lost the series opener to Indiana in the conference finals and
his team responded with a 72-67 road win in Game 2.
"My first reaction was, I know he's going to bring his 'A' game
when he does that," Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince
"Obviously, when you make statements like that, you have to come
ready to play. We knew he was going to be focused and ready to
play and we just needed to be there with him. We knew we had
to lay it all on the line for him."
The Pistons started making good on Wallace's promise pretty
early. They used a 19-1 run in the first quarter to build a
lead, then reeled off a 16-2 surge in the third quarter to take
control for good.
Wallace also let his play do the talking as he had his best game
of the series, collecting 17 points, 12 rebounds and five
Billups responded as well, scoring 29 points on 10-of-20
shooting. He had seven points in the spurt in the third quarter
that ended with the Pistons holding a 72-56 advantage.
"That (Wallace's prediction) just gives us some extra
incentive," Billups said. "We were going to play this hard and
aggressive anyway. When he does that, he puts a lot of pressure
on himself, and he seems to play better with the pressure on
him. We knew as a team that we had to come out ready, because
everyone was going to pinpoint the statement. I love it when he
does that because I know he's going to come out and give it his
added 12 points off the bench for Detroit, which
hosts Game 5 on Tuesday.
"This is a three-game series now," Billups said. "The pressure
is not on them, they have nothing to lose. We are the kind of
of team that plays best when under pressure."
After squandering a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in Game 3
before recovering, the Pacers struggled to find their offense in
this one and shot just 37 percent (26-of-70) and made a woeful
"Give Detroit a lot of credit, they really raised the level of
their game," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle
said. "We knew they
would play a great game and they knew they would play their
best, and they did."
scored 23 points to pace Indiana, which fell to
2-3 at home in the postseason. The Pacers are 4-2 on the road
in the playoffs.
Wallace picked up a technical foul with 5:04 left in the third
quarter after fouling Jermaine O'Neal
. Reggie Miller
technical free throw and O'Neal made both of his foul shots,
pulling the Pacers within 56-50.
But McDyess made a turnaround jumper and Billups scored seven
points in under two minutes as the Pistons rebuilt the lead to
Billups' jumper at the 2:02 mark made it 67-52 before McDyess
made two free throws and Tayshaun Prince a 3-pointer with 46
seconds left in the third quarter for a 72-52 bulge.
Billups also did the job defensively, helping harass Jamaal
Tinsley into seven turnovers.
"I was looking to pass more and they kept deflecting them away,"
added 13 points and seven assists for the
Pistons, who led by at least 12 points the entire fourth
quarter. Detroit shot 41 percent (34-of-84)
and made 18-of-20 free throws.
Like Billups, Hamilton also played a defensive role by helping
hold the ageless veteran Miller to just seven points on 2-of-6
shooting. Miller missed all four of his 3-point attempts and is
0-of-11 from the arc in the last two games.
It also was a rough game for O'Neal, who scored 10 points on
just 4-of-15 shooting.
"I just didn't make my shots tonight," O'Neal said. "Sometimes
you have those nights, those games. And unfortunately for me,
that was tonight. It's a cycle in basketball. I'm a a believer
that you should not get too hot or too cold."
The Pacers carried some momentum over from the win in Game
Three, building a 9-2 lead on Dale Davis
' dunk with 9:16 left in
the first quarter.
But the Pistons' defense took over from there. They held the
Pacers without a basket for the next 7:36, held a 21-13
advantage after one quarter and led by as many as 17 points in
the second quarter before setting for a 47-34 cushion the break.
The winner of the series will play the top-seeded Miami Heat in
the conference finals. The Heat completed a sweep of the
Washington Wizards on Saturday.