MILWAUKEE, May 1 (Ticker) -- Chauncey Billups
and the Detroit Pistons
showed that Game 3 was a mere bump in the road.
Billups scored 34 points and the Pistons showed their mettle in
the fourth quarter en route to a 109-99 victory over the
Milwaukee Bucks and a commanding 3-1 lead in their Eastern
Conference first-round series.
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and Tayshaun Prince
added 18 points apiece for
the top-seeded Pistons, who rebounded from a 124-104 loss in
Game 3 and squandering a 15-point, first-half lead in this
one by making all the clutch plays down the stretch.
Billups was the ringleader in the fourth quarter, when he scored
13 points and made all 10 of his free throws in his best game
of the series.
"We came into this game really focused on what we needed to do,"
Billups said. "We just had to grind it out and get to the free
The Bucks had rallied in the third quarter as speedy point guard
made 7-of-8 shots and scored 16 of his 21 points in
the period to give Milwaukee a 76-74 lead entering the final 12
"T.J. really played a great game, kept pushing the ball, finding
people and made shots," Bucks coach Terry Stotts
played a good game and we played a good game and with
two-and-a-half minutes remaining it could have gone either way."
But the Pistons, who won the NBA title in 2004 and came within a
quarter of winning another last season, showed their
championship toughness in the fourth quarter.
Prince's short hook shot from the right baseline with 5:29
remaining gave the Pistons the lead for good at 87-86.
Billups and Hamilton then drilled back-to-back 3-pointers for a
93-86 advantage with 3:47 to go. The eighth-seeded Bucks
battled back behind Michael Redd
, who had another big game,
pulling within 95-93 with 2:29 to go on his two free throws.
"I thought Hamilton's shot was a turning point in the game, just
two big shots right there," Redd said. "They made the plays
and their free throws, but it's a tough game to lose."
However, Billups made six straight free throws and Rasheed Wallace
drilled a jumper from the left side with 56 seconds left
to give the Pistons a 103-93 advantage and all but seal things.
"Chauncey was great down the stretch, just a great ballgame,"
Pistons coach Flip Saunders
said. "When it came down to crunch
time, we moved the ball, got some open looks, got the free throw
line and did the things you need to do offensively."
Saunders also pointed to his team's playoff experience as being
"There's no question it helps when you've been there, you know
what to expect," Saunders said. "That's one of the reasons that
we didn't take many bad shots in the fourth quarter. We took
some bad ones in the third, but when it came down to crunch time
we moved the ball, got some open looks, got mismatches, got to
the free throw line and did the things you need to do
Stotts had a different view on experience being the deciding
"I can't say necessarily say that their experience was the
reason," Stotts said. "I wouldn't say it was experience one way
or the other."
Wallace scored 12 points and Antonio McDyess
had 11 and 11
rebounds for Detroit, which could close out the series in Game 5 at home on Wednesday.
"He (McDyess) came in and got us second opportunities and was
getting his shots when we went to him when the heart of our
defense went out," Billups said.
Coming off a 40-point effort in Game 3, Redd scored 33
points for the Bucks, who shot 55 percent (38-of-69) but
committed 18 turnovers that the Pistons turned into 33 points.
"That's been a focus all series long, to limit our turnovers as
much as possible," Bucks forward Joe Smith
said. "We got quite
a few late and that was the game for us."