Monday , Apr , 19 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Pistons open playoffs with rout of Milwaukee

Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – Richard Hamilton scored 21 points and
handed out eight assists, as the Detroit Pistons crushed Milwaukee, 108-82, in
the opener of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at The Palace.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven set is scheduled for Wednesday night in Detroit.

Ben Wallace collected 17 points and 14 rebounds and Rasheed Wallace
contributed 17 points and 10 boards for the Pistons, who have won 17 of their
last 20 games, dating back to the regular season. Detroit entered the playoffs
as the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

Tayshaun Prince had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Detroit, which improved to
7-1 all-time versus the Bucks in the post-season, including 4-0 at home.

“It was a great game for us, right from the beginning,” said Hamilton. “We
just tried to come out strong and we just kept it up and didn’t let them back
in it. We really tried to not let them into the game, and we knew that if we
just kept taking our time that good things can and will happen. This is the
time of the season when you definitely want to go up and down as much as you
can and I think we did a great job (today).”

Desmond Mason paced the Bucks with 16 points. Michael Redd netted 11 points
for Milwaukee, which committed 25 turnovers in the game leading to 28 points
for the Pistons.

“I think the biggest adjustment we have to make is limit our turnovers,” said
Bucks head coach Terry Porter. “That’s the biggest thing we have to do a
better job of taking care of the ball. Like I said, we had 25 turnovers and
they had 28 points off of the turnovers. You can’t give this team 28 points.
You can’t beat anybody in this league with 28 points off of turnovers,
especially a good team like Detroit.”

The Bucks are the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, but could have been as
high as fourth if they had not lost their final three games of the regular
season.

Detroit opened the third quarter with a 7-0 spurt, capped by Ben Wallace’s
bucket, to grab a 59-43 advantage.

Milwaukee battled back and trimmed the deficit to 10 points on two occasions,
the last time at 61-51 on Joe Smith’s jumper with 7:05 remaining in the
period.

Detroit then received a jumper from Hamilton, a three-pointer from Rasheed
Wallace and a layup from Chauncey Billups to stretch the lead to 68-51.
Another three-pointer from Wallace made it 76-56 and the Pistons held a
commanding 80-58 advantage after 36 minutes.

Milwaukee committed 13 turnovers in the third stanza and was outscored 28-15.

The Bucks got no closer than 15 points in the fourth quarter and fell behind
by as many as 30 at 106-76 with 2:41 left.

“I’m really pleased with the way we played,” said Detroit head coach Larry
Brown. “We rebounded, we shared the ball and we got them to turn the ball
over, which was really important because it gives us a chance to get easy
baskets. We had a lot of guys really play great.”

The first quarter was tight throughout, before Detroit scored six of the final
eight points of the period to take a 27-21 lead after 12 minutes. Lindsey
Hunter then nailed a three-pointer to begin the second quarter, giving the
Pistons a nine-point advantage.

Detroit increased its lead to 13 at 46-33 on a basket by Mehmet Okur and
eventually carried a 52-43 lead into the locker room. Hamilton scored 13
points in the first half.

The Pistons set a franchise playoff record with 14 steals. Billups and
Corliss Williamson each had 12 points for Detroit.

These teams have met twice before in the post-season with the Pistons winning
each series. Detroit won the final two games of a best-of-three first-round
series in 1976 and swept a best-of-seven conference semifinal set in 1989.

DET MIL