Sunday , May , 30 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Hamilton’s monster night puts Pistons one win from NBA Finals

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) – Richard Hamilton poured in a career
playoff-high 33 points to lead Detroit to an easy 83-65 win over Indiana in
Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Hamilton connected on 12-of-22 shots from the field for the Pistons, who lead
the best-of-seven set 3-2. Rasheed Wallace added 22 points and Ben Wallace
grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds in the win.

“I just wanted to come out aggressive,” said Hamilton. “We play better in
these situations. I just tried to be aggressive and move around a lot.”

Detroit can wrap up the series and advance to the NBA Finals for the first
time since the 1989-90 season when it hosts Game 6 Tuesday night.

Ron Artest scored 13 points and hauled in 11 boards for the Pacers, who
are 0-5 in their NBA history when trailing a best-of-seven playoff series 3-2.
Fred Jones also chipped in 13 points for Indiana, which scored a
franchise playoff record-low 65 points.

Indiana, which never led in the game, was slowed down by the fact that
starters Jermaine O’Neal and Jamaal Tinsley both battled through injuries
and scored only 19 points combined. O’Neal, who bruised his left knee in
the Game 4 win, netted 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. Tinsley, who is
suffering from injuries to his left hamstring, knee and ankle, scored eight
points in only 27 minutes.

“When you lose you got to bring it,” said O’Neal. “There’s really no tomorrow
for us and I think we have to have that type of edge going into Detroit. We
kind of coasted at home tonight for some reason and obviously I’m hoping we
get that same edge back come the next game.”

Detroit got off to a fast start and claimed a 7-2 lead on Tayshaun Prince’s
three-pointer just over one minute into the game. The Pacers clawed back and
eventually tied the game at 13 apiece, but the Pistons then used a a 6-0 run
to seize a six-point edge. Hamilton’s two free throws in the waning seconds
staked Detroit to a 25-17 lead after one.

Indiana used a 7-0 surge and a stifling defense to close within 25-24 with
just over seven minutes left in the second quarter. The Pistons missed their
first seven shots of the period and Jones finally capped the flurry with a
deep three-pointer. The Pacers did tie the game at 27-27, but a quick 6-0 run,
culminated by Rasheed Wallace’s three, put Detroit ahead 33-27 with around 4
1/2 minutes left in the half.

Six straight points by Indiana, though, tied the game at 33-33 with 3:34
remaining. The Pistons then ended the first half on an 8-3 surge and took a
41-36 lead into the locker room.

Hamilton led all scorers with 19 points, including 13 in the second, as
Detroit shot 42 percent from the floor in the first half (16-of-38). Artest
scored 11 to pace the Pacers, who hit on just 12-of-37 attempts in the opening
24 minutes (32 percent).

The Pistons led 47-42 early in the third, but opened up the game as they used
a 6-0 run, highlighted by five from Hamilton, to grab a 53-42 advantage.
Rasheed Wallace’s three-pointer as the shot clock was winding down stretched
the cushion to 58-43 with 4:19 remaining in the period and the margin grew to
16 points moments later.

“Rasheed was great,” said Hamilton. “He was screaming and yelling and when
he’s making shots we are a tough team to beat.”

Indiana slowly crept back into the game as Al Harrington’s basket with 1:41
left trimmed the gap to 60-49 and Jones’ three in the waning seconds brought
the Pacers within 62-53 after three quarters.

Harrington’s basket with 10:18 left in the game brought Indiana within seven
at 64-57 and Jones’ bucket a couple of minutes later brought the deficit to
five points. However, the Pistons steadied themselves and would not allow the
game to get any closer.

Detroit reeled off eight straight points, capped by Rasheed Wallace’s short
jumper, and increased its margin to 72-59 with 5:47 left.

The Pacers never got the game into single-digits again.