Pistons best Bulls, advance to Eastern finals
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) – Richard Hamilton scored 23 points as Detroit
bested Chicago, 95-85, in Game 6 of their semifinal set and advanced to the
Eastern Conference Finals for the fifth consecutive year.
Chauncey Billups added 21 points and was a perfect 14-of-14 from the line for
the Pistons, who held the Bulls to just four points in the first nine-plus
minutes of the fourth quarter and outrebounded them 48-35 in the game. Rasheed
Wallace chipped in 16 points and 13 rebounds while Tayshaun Prince finished
with 17 points and nine boards.
P.J. Brown had a career-playoff high 20 points in the first half for Chicago
but he did not score in the second half.
Ben Gordon added 19 points for the Bulls, who were attempting to become just
the fourth team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0 in a
series. Luol Deng tallied 17 points.
The Bulls entered the fourth quarter down by five and looked tight on the
offensive end. It took over three minutes for Chicago to make a field goal in
the frame but the Pistons couldn’t take advantage and pull away. Kirk Hinrich
finally knocked down a jumper for the Bulls, with 8:42 left, and Chicago was
still down by just five, 77-72.
But, Detroit’s domination of the boards started to take its toll. Prince
grabbed a Antonio McDyess miss and slammed it home and then took Deng on the
blocks for a half-hook to give the Pistons a comfortable nine-point cushion,
81-72, with 5:57 remaining.
With their season on the line, the Bulls just couldn’t find the bucket but
they got a break when Wallace showed a lack of self-control after being
whistled for a loose ball foul. The enigmatic forward earned a technical
foul and Gordon drained the freebie but Deng couldn’t convert on the ensuing
possession and Chicago was still down, 81-73, with under four minutes to go.
Wallace then made up for his mistake by drilling a jumper from the free throw
line, with 2:56 left, to give the Pistons a 10-point edge and essentially put
Andres Noicioni gave the Bulls one last hope after drilling a three to make it
85-78 with 1:29 left but the Pistons were excellent from the line in the
waning seconds to secure things.
Billups and Hamilton combined to drop in 10 straight to send Chicago home.
Hamilton was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field in the opening quarter and his
jumper at the buzzer gave the Pistons a 28-23 advantage.
The Bulls fought back behind Brown in the second quarter. The veteran scored
10 points in the frame as Chicago took a 48-43 edge into the locker room.
The back-and-forth action continued in the third quarter as Detroit sprinted
out with a 12-1 run. Prince’s three capped the run and gave the Pistons a
55-49 lead with a little under nine minutes left in the frame.
Neither team made any significant headway in the rest of the stanza and
Detroit took a 74-69 advantage into the final frame.
Three teams have forced a seventh game after dropping the first three of a
best-of-seven series…Portland did it against Dallas in the first round of
the 2003 playoffs, Denver versus Utah in the 1994 conference semifinals and
the Knicks in the 1951 finals against Rochester…Chicago has lost three
straight Games 6s…There is a lot of playoff history between Chicago and
Detroit. This is the sixth time these clubs have battled in the postseason.
The Pistons have won four of the six series.