Pistons Advance to Conference Finals

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Detroit Pistons made just enough shots and stops to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for a sixth straight year.
Richard Hamilton scored 19 of his 31 points in the first half, made victory-sealing free throws late in the game and Tayshaun Prince had a key block, helping Detroit hold off the Orlando Magic for a 91-86 win Tuesday night in Game 5 of the second-round series.
The Pistons will have a break before facing the Boston Celtics or Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals.
Detroit made just 36 percent of its shots and allowed the Magic to make nearly half of their attempts, but made up for the disparity at the line and by taking care of the ball.
The Pistons were 28-of-32 at the line and had just three turnovers -- setting an NBA playoff record for the fewest giveaways in a game -- while Orlando was 16-of-28 and had a playoff-high 21 turnovers, which turned into 34 points for Detroit.
To the Magic's credit, they didn't go away easily against a playoff-tested team that improved to 15-3 when it has a chance to advance since 2003.
Detroit led by 10 late, but was ahead 85-84 with just under a minute left after Hedo Turkoglu made back-to-back shots.
The Pistons won when Hamilton made two key free throws, Prince blocked Turkoglu's dunk attempt, and Hamilton made two more at the line in the last 20 seconds of the game.
Playing without All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups for the second straight game because of a strained hamstring, rookie Rodney Stuckey filled the void with 15 points, six assists and no turnovers.
Antonio McDyess had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Rasheed Wallace had 14 points and Prince added 10.
Turkoglu had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson had 14 points apiece for the Magic. Nelson had guaranteed his team would extend the series with a win.
Howard also had 17 rebounds and three blocks, but his night was marred by going 6-of-15 at the line.
Orlando was in the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
The Magic scored the last seven points of the first quarter to make it 20-all in what had to be a frustrating score for them.
They allowed Detroit to score all but two of its points off turnovers and offensive rebounds.
Lewis had as many missed shots (four) as turnovers in a scoreless first, but each of the other starters scored at least four points to make up for the awful start from the team's leading scorer.
When Lewis finally scored midway through the second quarter, his hook capped a 10-2 run that put Orlando ahead 33-27.
Detroit then went on a 16-3 run, and took a 47-41 lead into halftime.
The Pistons enjoyed quite an advantage at the line.
Hamilton made all 10 of his free throws before intermission and Detroit missed only one of 14 attempts while Howard was 6-of-13 to sink Orlando's total to 7-of-16 in the first half.
The Magic carried a 68-65 lead into the final period but struggled at the start of the fourth. After Lewis made two free throws in the opening seconds, Orlando went scoreless for nearly 7 minutes as the Pistons went ahead on Stuckey's steal and layup during a McDyess-led 13-0 run that put them ahead 78-70.
The Magic still wouldn't go away until fading in the final seconds.


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