AUBURN HILLS, Mich., May 17 (Ticker) --
The championship drive of
the Detroit Pistons had the Indiana Pacers stuck in neutral.
The Pistons held the Pacers to one goaltended basket over a
13-minute stretch and regained control of their Eastern
Conference semifinal series with a convincing 86-67 triumph.
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Two days after reclaiming home-court advantage with a thorough
victory in Indiana in Game Four, Detroit took a 3-2 lead and
moved within one win of their third straight trip to the
had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Tayshaun Prince
added 16 and 12 for the second-seeded Pistons, who again leaned
on their championship formula of teamwork and defense to stymie
the sixth-seeded Pacers.
"We're coming out with a lot of energy at the start, getting
stops from the start, and not waiting until we find ourselves in
a hole where we need stops," Wallace said. "We're getting
stops early in the game and forcing teams to go against our set
defense. Anytime we can force teams to play against our set
defense, I like our chances."
Outclassed for the third time in the series, Indiana actually
held a 31-27 lead with just over seven minutes left in the
second quarter before missing 18 of its next 19 shots. Its only
hoop during that stretch was a goaltended shot by Jeff Foster
"I thought we had a good handle on things, but the last 31
minutes were dismal," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle
Bill Fitch used to say, 'When you stink, you stink.'"
The Pistons closed the first half with a 15-4 spurt sparked by
reserve guard Carlos Arroyo
's four assists. They opened the
second half with a 15-0 run featuring 10 points from the
Wallaces - Ben and Rasheed - to build a 57-35 lead with 5:52 to
"I thought in the second and third quarter we defended as well
as we have all year," Pistons coach Larry Brown
said. "I think
that got us a lot of easy shots."
Arroyo did not play in Games Two and Three but played nine
minutes in Game Four and 18 in Game Five.
"The stat sheet doesn't show it, but (Arroyo's) impact on the
game was tremendous," said Brown, who did not indicate whether
Arroyo had earned more minutes. The backup guard seemed
resigned to intermittent play.
"I know I'm not going to be out there too much, so when I am I
just try to do my best and hopefully, I'll get back in," Arroyo
said. "(Brown) put me back in there and I tried to do what I
know best. We tried to do a lot of pick and rolls and attack
them. They looked like they were down and we had a chance to
get a run."
It was a wave of championship basketball that the Pacers were
unable to stop despite spending all eight of their timeouts
before the end of the third quarter. They were hit with a
technical foul in the fourth quarter when they were assessed a
mandatory timeout they did not have.
Veteran referee Joe Crawford said he could not remember a game
where a team went into the fourth quarter without any timeouts.
"I thought we had to stop the game in order to stay in it,"
Carlisle said. "I knew we were out of them in the third
quarter, but it's not that big a deal."
The 22,076 fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills began a chant of
"We want Darko!" midway through the final period. They got
their wish when benchwarmer Darko Milicic
came on and sank the
technical free throw and hook shot to cap the win.
Detroit limited Indiana to 37 percent (24-of-69) from the field
and banged the boards for a 52-34 advantage. Pushed around by
Foster earlier in the series, the Pistons had 22 offensive
rebounds while the Pacers managed just 23 defensive boards.
"The big thing in the last two games was their second-chance
opportunities," said Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal
, who had
just three rebounds in 31 minutes. "And it's not just their big
guys. They're pounding us from every position on the court."
All five starters were in double figures for the Pistons, who
can wrap up the series with a road win Thursday. In 103
all-time series tied at 2-2, the Game Five winner has went on to
win the series 83 times.
"Now comes the true test," O'Neal said. "If we don't win, it's
summertime. If we do, we'll make it a one-game series and put
some pressure on them."
"We're disappointed but not distraught," said Carlisle, whose
team has battled adversity all season. "We know what we have to
do. We faced an elimination game two weeks ago and our guys
fought and won a Game Seven on the road. We're going to have to
respond at home."
After losing Game Two at home, the Pistons aren't taking
anything for granted.
"They are a team that has been bouncing back all season," Ben
Wallace said. "They still got a lot of fight left. We know we
have to come out and take care of business. They've been
through a lot and that never stopped them before, so we're not
looking for them to lay down."
O'Neal led the Pacers with 14 points but is just 12-of-40 from
the field in the last three games. He refused to use his sore
shoulder as an excuse for his performance.
"I hate to see pro athletes sit at the podium and make excuses,"
he said. "If you can't play, then why go out there? I'm able
to make the plays. I'm just not making them. I have to find a
way to play at a higher level."