Monday , May , 17 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Pistons win in New Jersey; Game 7 next

East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) – Richard Hamilton scored 24 points and
hit a key jumper in the closing seconds, as Detroit forced a decisive
seventh game in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against New Jersey
with an 81-75 victory over the Nets at Continental Airlines Arena.

Rasheed Wallace contributed 14 points and five rebounds for Detroit, which
will host Game 7 on Thursday.

Chauncey Billups had 11 points and Ben Wallace pulled down 20 boards for the
Pistons, who had dropped the last three games of the series after opening the
set with a pair of easy victories at The Palace.

“Nobody (is) in here with pompoms jumping up and down like we won the World
Series or something like that,” said Rasheed Wallace. “We’ve still got to stay
composed because there’s still one game left.”

Detroit has never lost a playoff series after winning the first two contests.

Richard Jefferson paced New Jersey in Game 6 with 23 points to go along with
seven rebounds and five assists. Kenyon Martin collected 19 points and seven
boards for the Nets, who have never rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win a
postseason series.

New Jersey is trying to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the
third year in a row.

The Pistons were clinging to a three-point lead entering the fourth quarter,
but opened the period with a 12-6 run, culminated by Hamilton’s three-point
play, to push their advantage to 72-63 with 6:49 remaining.

The Nets then scored the next seven points, including four by Jefferson, to
cut the deficit to two.

Following a series of missed shots and turnovers by both clubs, Billups was
fouled with 1:33 left and hit 1-of-2 free throws to give Detroit a 73-70 edge.

Jefferson was fouled 12 seconds later and also sank 1-of-2 attempts from the
line to again pull New Jersey within two.

Rasheed Wallace and Jefferson then traded field goals, with Jefferson’s
driving layup making it 75-73 with 35 seconds remaining.

On the next possession, Hamilton drilled a tough jumper over Jason Kidd to
extend the margin to four with only 15.5 seconds left on the clock.

“You live for moments like that,” said Hamilton.

Kidd added, “He has a great mid-range jumper. I thought he was trying to draw
the foul, but big players make big shots.”

Martin then scored inside, but Billups countered with a pair of foul shots
with 8.8 seconds remaining to seal it. Lindsey Hunter added two more from the
stripe to account for the final margin.

Detroit, which held a 46-31 rebounding edge, won despite making only 12-of-22
from the free throw line.

“You have to give Detroit a great deal of credit,” said New Jersey head coach
Lawrence Frank. “After their initial run and huge second quarter, I think we
defended well enough for three quarters, but down the stretch we couldn’t get
the shots we would have liked and you have to give Detroit credit for that.”

Hamilton’s free throw with 10:23 remaining in the third quarter gave Detroit a
seemingly comfortable 53-36 advantage.

New Jersey then stormed back, using a 19-4 burst to pull within 57-55 with
3:53 left in the period. Kidd and Jefferson each netted six points during the
surge.

Detroit, which managed just 10 points in the stanza, held a 60-57 lead after
36 minutes.

The Nets started strong, scoring 13 of the first 15 points of the game.
Martin’s three-point play with 8:09 left in the opening quarter staked New
Jersey to an 11-point advantage.

After the teams exchanged baskets, Detroit went on a 16-6 spurt, keyed by six
points from Hamilton, to cut the deficit to 21-20 with 2:24 remaining in the
period.

New Jersey led 25-23 after 12 minutes.

The Pistons continued to pour it on in the second quarter, outscoring the Nets
27-11 to grab a 50-36 advantage at the intermission.

Detroit opened the period with a 16-2 burst, highlighted by three-pointers
from Hunter and Rasheed Wallace, to take a 39-27 lead.

After New Jersey got within 40-34, the Pistons closed the stanza with a 10-2
run, ignited by Billups’ three-pointer. Detroit made 11-of-17 shots from the
floor in the second stanza, while New Jersey was just 3-of-16 from the field.

Kidd finished with 11 points and eight assists. Kerry Kittles also scored 11
points for New Jersey, which shot only 39.7 percent from the field for the
game and was just 2-of-14 from beyond the arc.

Detroit has won four straight Game 6s.

New Jersey suffered its first loss in five games at home in the 2004 playoffs.
The Nets had won five straight games when having the opportunity to eliminate
their opponent from the playoffs. New Jersey has represented the Eastern
Conference in the NBA Finals the last two seasons.

The Nets have never been involved in a Game 7 in their NBA franchise history.

DET NJ