Hamiltonís Late Heroics Lift Pistons
Detroit 98, Seattle 96
SEATTLE, March 3 (Ticker) -- The Seattle SuperSonics made it tough on the Detroit Pistons until Richard Hamilton made a series of tough shots.
Hamilton scored seven points in the final 55 seconds, including a go-ahead jumper with two-tenths of a second remaining, as the Pistons edged the SuperSonics, 98-96.
†"It's always tough to play on the road and I thought Seattle played really, really well," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "This is always a tough place to play. We were able to get ourselves back in the game in the first half but we just could not shake them."
"Under the circumstances, I can't be much prouder of this group of players' effort," Sonics coach Bob Hill said. "I think they deserved to win this game."
The contest was knotted, 96-96, when Hamilton freed himself by running left to right along the baseline, taking a pass from Chauncey Billups and drilling a jumper just in front of the 3-point line.
"We ran a pick-and-roll off the top and I am running the baseline and I just got an open shot and I just shot it," Hamilton said. "That play is really tough to guard if you don't know what's coming."
"We just got caught sleeping," Sonics guard Ray Allen said. "We were so focused on pick-and-roll coverage. (Hamilton) just cut baseline. We got out to contest the shot, but it was too late."
The SuperSonics called timeout to move the ball to halfcourt but had no time for a catch-and-shoot. A desperation inbounds pass did not find anyone for a tip-in.
Detroit led by as many as six points in the fourth quarter and still held a 91-87 lead with 1:54 remaining on a follow dunk by Rasheed Wallace, who scored 21 points. Allen responded with a dunk and a follow banker to tie it. Allen scored 11 of his 31 points in the final session for the Sonics, who have lost three of four games and seven of nine.
Hamilton began his late spree with 55 seconds to go by hitting a jumper to give the Pistons a 93-91 lead from the nearly the same spot as his go-ahead shot. Luke Ridnour hit a 3-pointer 15 seconds later to give Seattle a one-point advantage, but Hamilton responded from the arc to give Detroit a 96-94 lead with 28 seconds remaining. Ridnour, who scored 16 points, squared it with 20 ticks on the clock with a pair of free throws, setting up Hamilton's last-second heroics.
†"When we come to him late, he always delivers," Billups said about Hamilton. "Tonight he hit some huge shots. It's huge for me and everybody on this team to know that when it comes down to these situations, it doesn't have to be me."
"If you give Rip (Hamilton) shots and he's in rhythm, he'll often make those shots," Saunders said.
Seattle held a 43-33 lead with 3:16 remaining in the second quarter before Billups scored 10 of his 21 points during a 17-4 charge that closed the half and gave Detroit a 50-47 advantage.