Pistons Roll

By: AP
By: AP

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Motor City's Big Three outscored Philadelphia's entire team when it mattered.
Chauncey Billups scored 21 points, Richard Hamilton had 20 and Rasheed Wallace added 19 to lift the Pistons to a 98-81 victory over the 76ers on Tuesday night and a 3-2 lead in the first-round series.
Detroit leads in the series for the first time after being the first team to win consecutive games.
If the Pistons win Game 6 on Thursday night in Philadelphia or Game 7 at home, they will advance in the playoffs for the seventh year in a row.
The third-seeded Orlando Magic, who eliminated Toronto on Monday night, await the winner in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Andre Iguodala scored a career playoff-high 21 points, finally putting together a night that resembled his play in the regular season, but he didn't have much help.
None of his teammates reached double figures until Andre Miller did in the third quarter, but the point guard missed nine shots in a row in the first half when the game was relatively close.
Billups, Wallace and Hamilton combined for 58 points through three quarters, outscoring the Sixers until Rodney Carney made a 3 to end the quarter, cutting their deficit to 20 points.
Detroit's Tayshaun Prince finished with 17 points, giving the balanced team a fourth option offensively.
Miller finished with 13 points and reserve Louis Williams scored 13.
Billups took control from the start, scoring 14 points and adding five assists as Detroit took a 35-21 lead after the first quarter.
The game was essentially over at that point.
Detroit led 54-42 at halftime and 79-59 after three quarters.
The Pistons seemed serious about preparing for the pivotal game 90 minutes before the game, as Billups and Prince discussed strategy and all eyes were on the big-screen TV in the locker room, showing Game 4. Wallace watched a play in which he had a turnover, throwing a long outlet to Billups, three times trying to figure out if it was a bad pass.
Notes:@ Philadelphia's Maurice Cheeks finished fourth in coach of the year voting, receiving five first-place votes to trail New Orleans' Byron Scott, Boston's Doc Rivers and Houston's Rick Adelman. "It's great," Cheeks said. "Who would've thought it? To go from where we were to where we are, it's an honor to be mentioned." Saunders received one third-place vote, tying Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni. ... Saunders downplayed comments made by ex-Piston Chris Webber on TNT as an analyst Sunday night. "No respect to Flip, but it doesn't matter what Flip says," Webber said at halftime of Game 4. "They come from a coach like Larry Brown, they look at him like he's the epitome of basketball, and they feel like they can wait until the last game or the championship, and they won't lose. They are really nonchalant, and that's why I felt we lost last year." Saunders responded before Game 4: "I talked at halftime, no one else talked at halftime, and I was happy with the way the team responded." ... Philadelphia's Samuel Dalembert said Willie Green's barber in Detroit gave him the unique hairdo, complete with "LJ" and "SD" shaved into both sides of his head. "The SD is for strong defense," he said. "The LJ is for a loved one." Evans seemed to pity his teammate. "Willie, that's your fault," Evans said. "He's going to be on the bloopers."


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