Hamiltonís Last-Second Heroics Lift Pistons
Detroit 82, Boston 81
BOSTON, Nov. 4 (Ticker) -- Richard Hamilton seems intent on impressing his new coach.
Hamilton finished a 26-point effort with a jumper at the buzzer to lift the Detroit Pistons to a dramatic 82-81 victory over the Boston Celtics, who had taken the lead with 0.8 seconds left on a jumper by Mark Blount.
"I told the guys we have to execute and defend down the stretch, and if we do that we will have a chance," said Saunders, who was fired last season midway through his 10th campaign as Minnesota's coach. "We dug in there and made some big plays, made free throws and made some defensive stops when we needed to."
Blount, who finished with 16 points, missed a short hook in the closing seconds but the rebound was tipped out to Celtics guard Delonte West, who passed to Blount at the foul line. The 7-foot Blount took one dribble to his left and sank the jumper, setting off a wild but premature celebration at TD Banknorth Garden.
"It's fun, it's exciting, especially in somebody else's building when everybody is yelling and screaming, thinking they have got the win," Hamilton said. "Then it's quiet. I get a bigger thrill out of that than anything."
After a timeout, Detroit stacked its players in the lane before springing Hamilton around three screens. Unguarded inbounder Tayshaun Prince found Hamilton on a curl toward Boston's bench, from where he swished a jumper as time expired with Celtics guard Ricky Davis in tow.
"Tayshaun hit me with a great pass, Ben (Wallace) and Rasheed (Wallace) had excellent screens and coach did a great job of calling out the play," Hamilton said. "My job was to just take my time and get the shot off. I knew with 0.8 I could get a shot off."
Boston coach Doc Rivers may have made things easier when he elected to give Prince an open look as the play unfolded.
"I originally had (forward) Kendrick Perkins on the ball, and then I made the choice to take him off the ball," Rivers said. "If (Perkins) is on the ball, would Rip (Hamilton) catch it? I don't know if he would have, to be honest. That was my call, it didn't work and so I blew that."
"When Rip came off it was a no-brainer to hit him, especially since they did not have anyone on the ball," Prince said.
Confident in his players after just two contests, Saunders felt otherwise.
"I think even if there is a guy on Tayshaun, he still finds Rip," Saunders said.
Rasheed Wallace scored 16 points for the Pistons, including a pair of big buckets down the stretch. After Paul Pierce split two free throws to give the Celtics a 75-69 lead, Hamilton had a layup, Chauncey Billups two free throws and Rasheed Wallace a 3-pointer to put Detroit ahead, 76-75, with 2:36 left.
Rasheed Wallace's follow shot with 16 seconds to go gave the Pistons an 80-79 lead, setting up Blount's shot.
Pierce scored 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to carry the Celtics down the stretch. However, he made just 3-of-7 from the line in the final 4:13.
"I've been there before, I mean, I've lost games like that before," Pierce said. "You know I tell all the guys you can't let it get us down, the important thing is it's behind us now, we got to start thinking about (Saturday)."
Pierce scored seven points in the second quarter to help Boston turn a four-point deficit into a 43-38 halftime lead.
Hamilton took over in the third with 10 points as Detroit reclaimed the lead, 61-60. The Celtics were held scoreless for nearly four minutes in the fourth before Pierce's jumper ended the drought and pulled his club within 63-62.
Pierce scored all of Boston's points in a 9-3 run soon thereafter before Detroit's 7-0 run turned the tide.
West's layup gave the Celtics a 77-76 edge, but after Ben Wallace's basket with 91 seconds left, Pierce missed a golden opportunity by splitting two free throws on two occasions, once with 75 seconds to go and again with 31 seconds remaining.