Thursday , May , 27 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Rasheed Wallace and Pistons take 2-1 series edge in Detroit

=== Rasheed Wallace and Pistons take 2-1 series edge in Detroit ===

Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton each
scored 20 points to lead the Detroit Pistons over the Indiana Pacers, 85-78,
in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference finals series at the Palace.

Wallace and Hamilton sparked a late fourth-quarter burst that helped the
Pistons pull away, as Detroit holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Pistons will host Game 4 on Friday.

Jermaine O’Neal had 24 points and nine rebounds for Indiana, which has dropped
consecutive games in this series. Reggie Miller was held to three points and
missed two three-pointers in the final 1 1/2 minutes, as the Pacers have yet
to reach the 80-point mark in the series.

Ben Wallace added 17 points and 16 rebounds for Detroit, which never trailed
and scored nine of the final 12 points to secure the victory.

Trailing by 11 points, 76-65, with 4:20 left, the Pacers began to chip away
and make this a game by ripping off 10 straight points. Jamaal Tinsley had six
points during the run and Austin Croshere capped it with a dunk with 1:50
remaining to draw to 76-75.

However, the Pistons responded behind Rasheed Wallace and Hamilton. On the
ensuing possession, Rasheed Wallace dunked over Croshere and converted the
three-point play to give Detroit the 79-75 lead.

Then, on the Pacers’ next possession, Miller missed a three-pointer with 1:24
on the clock.

After Game 2 hero Tayshaun Prince hit 1-of-2 from the free throw line with
1:03 left, Al Harrington nailed a three-pointer to get the Pacers within two,
80-78 with 48.9 remaining. However, that would be as close as Indiana would
get.

Ben Wallace converted a follow-up of a Rasheed Wallace miss 17 seconds later,
and after Harrington had a three-pointer altered, Hamilton grabbed the loose
ball and was fouled. He nailed 1-of-2 from the line for an 83-78 edge.

That’s when Miller missed his second three with 12 seconds left. Detroit got
the rebound and iced the game. Miller complained to no avail that he was
fouled, but the refs felt that he initiated contact with Hamilton.

“We have to shoot better,” said Miller, who went only 1-for-4 from the floor.
“We have to make shots. They have an extremely good defense, but guys on our
team are missing wide-open shots.”

Indiana shot only 34.7 percent from the floor and 5-for-19 from three.

“Rasheed’s been doing a great job,” Ben Wallace said of his teammate’s
performance. “He’s been hurting a little bit, but he continues to go out there
a play. Once I see a guy go out there and play the way he’s playing, it
motivates me to pick my game up a little bit.”

Detroit had taken the 11-point fourth-quarter lead thanks to Chauncey Billups
and Ben Wallace. Billups sparked a 10-5 run with a three at the 5:41 mark and
capped it with a pair of free throws with 4:20 on the clock. Ben Wallace
converted a key three-point play during the run, helping the Pistons take
their largest lead of the quarter.

Indiana got off to a slow start and trailed 27-14 after one quarter. Detroit
had only nine second-quarter points, but still held a 36-30 lead at the break.
Detroit held Indiana to 15 third-quarter points and led 56-45 going into the
final stanza.

Billups ended with 14 points and eight assists.

“This series is far from over,” said O’Neal “I feel pretty good about our
chances in this series. I know it’s going to come around for us, we have too
many good shooters on this team not to make shots.”

DET IND