Friday , May , 28 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Pistons try to take commanding lead in conference finals

Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – The top-seeded Indiana Pacers try to
avoid falling into a 3-1 hole in the Eastern Conference finals tonight, as
they visit the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills for Game 4 of the
best-of-seven set.

On Tuesday, Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton each scored 20 points to lead
the third-seeded Pistons over the Pacers, 85-78, in Game 3 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.
Ben Wallace added 17 points and 16 rebounds for the Pistons, who never trailed
and scored nine of the final 12 points to secure the victory.

All-Star 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 set.

Game 5 is scheduled for Sunday at Conseco Fieldhouse.

The Pistons are 1-6 in their last seven Game 4s in the postseason, while
the Pacers have lost seven of their last nine Game 4s in the playoffs.

This is the second time that these two teams have met in the postseason. In
1990, Detroit swept the Pacers, 3-0, in the first round.

The Pacers, who are appearing in the playoffs for the 14th time in 15 seasons,
are 3-3 on the road in this year’s playoffs.

Indiana, which had been eliminated three straight year’s in the first round,
last appeared in the Eastern Conference finals in 2000 when it defeated the
New York Knicks in six games. The Pacers would go on to lose in the NBA
Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Pacers are 1-4 all-time in Eastern Conference final series. Indiana fell
in seven games to the Knicks in 1994, lost in seven contests to the Orlando
Magic in 1995, was eliminated once again in seven games by the Chicago Bulls
in 1998 and was dismissed in six contests by New York in 1999.

The Pistons are 6-2 as the host in this year’s playoffs. Detroit has been
swept in its last two trips to the conference finals. In 1991, Michael Jordan
and the Chicago Bulls ousted the Pistons, who were also swept by New Jersey
last year. Detroit is 3-3 all-time in the conference finals.

The last time the Pistons won a conference finals series was in 1990, when
Detroit eliminated the Bulls in seven games. The Pistons would go on to defeat
the Portland Trail Blazers in five games in the NBA Finals, which gave them
the second of consecutive championships.