Pistons Close out Series with Win at Home
Despite a bad offensive game and the fact that Detroit was again without their All Star point guard and floor general Chauncey Billups, the Pistons closed out their series with The Orlando Magic in another game that went down the wire.
Detroit set a NBA playoff record Tuesday night in their 91-86 victory against Orlando by committing just three turnovers in the game, none of which came in a tight second half. With Detroit’s offense clearly not flowing, they clamped down on defense forcing the Magic into 21 turnovers on the night. And Detroit took advantage by scoring 34 points of Orlando’s 21 turnovers. It was the little things that Detroit did down the stretch to takeover, just as much as it was the things Orlando couldn’t do that sealed the win for Detroit.
Richard Hamilton led Detroit with 31 points while hitting clutch free throws at the wire to seal the Pistons victory. Rip was a perfect 16-for-16 from the charity stripe, adding 3 assists and 4 steals in the game. Adding to Richard Hamilton’s night was the fact that he surpassed Isiah Thomas as the Pistons all time playoff leading scorer, a feat that took Isiah his entire career to achieve took Hamilton just six seasons to accomplish.
If there was one play that stood it was Tayshaun Prince’s block on Hedo Turkoglu with seconds left on the clock and the chance for Orlando to get within one. Tayshaun’s block on Hedo rivaled “the block” he had on Reggie Miller in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004.
Antonio McDyess , who put up a double-double for Detroit with 17 points and 11 boards kept Detroit in the game with his offence as well as his defense. McDyess grabbed key boards for the Pistons and was all over the court running after loose balls. Antonio, who always plays with heart had a heave one on Tuesday night. Before the game McDyess found out that his grandmother had passed away.
Rookie guard Rodney Stuckey, who started in place of the injured Chauncey Billups, played like a veteran. Stuckey played 33 minutes with 0 turnovers, 15 points, 6 assists, 2 steals and 3 rebounds. He was cool, calm and collected running the show late in the game and even putting up a key high glasser over Dwight Howard.
Despite Dwight Howard’s double-double, his 17 boards and 14 points didn’t come easily. Howard again had many defenders thrown at him, frustrating him and sending him to the line, where he was just 6-for15. It wasn’t just Howard’s free throw blunders that hurt Orlando, they shot just 57% from the stripe for the night.
Turkoglu had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Magic. Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson each had 14 points. Orlando had many chances to put the game away, but just didn’t take advantage of Detroit’s poor shooting. Instead, the Pistons sent The Magic back to Disney World for the summer.
Detroit is now headed to their sixth straight trip to the Eastern Conference finals. Finishing off Orlando in five games gives Chauncey Billups more time to rest his injured hamstring, while Detroit waits for the winner of the Celtics – Cavs series. Whoever Detroit faces in the EFC is sure to get a Pistons team that looks like they are focused and ready for a fight.
[top image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wearethe801/]