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Pacers fit to be tied

Indiana's shooting woes continue as Detroit knots East semis at 2-2

Posted: Monday, May 16, 2005

 

  Detroit Pistons' Chauncey Billups (1) and Rasheed Wallace (36) celebrate a fourth quarter basket against the Indiana Pacers by Billups in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 15, 2005. Billups scored a game high 29 points and Wallace scored 17 points and had 12 rebounds in the Pistons 89-76 win. AP John Harrell

Detroit Pistons' Chauncey Billups (1) and Rasheed Wallace (36) celebrate a fourth quarter basket against the Indiana Pacers by Billups in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Indianapolis, Sunday, May 15, 2005. Billups scored a game high 29 points and Wallace scored 17 points and had 12 rebounds in the Pistons 89-76 win.

AP John Harrell

INDIANAPOLIS — Just when the Indiana Pacers thought they couldn't possibly shoot any worse, the Detroit Pistons proved them wrong.

Chauncey Billups scored 29 points and the Pistons used a 19-1 first-quarter run to beat the Pacers 89-76 Sunday, tying their best-of-seven Eastern Conference series at two games each.

Game 5 will be in Detroit on Tuesday night.

Just as they did Friday night, when they blew an 18-point lead but managed to hold on for a 79-74 victory, the Pacers went cold from the field. But this time it cost them the game.

This collapse, though, came in the first quarter, when a free throw by Jamaal Tinsley was their only point in a stretch of almost eight minutes. After that, Billups scored nine points as Detroit quickly built its lead to 17. The Pistons held off a brief third-quarter comeback, took a 20-point lead late in the period and were never threatened in the final quarter.

Rasheed Wallace had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Richard Hamilton added 13 points and seven assists for the Pistons.

Stephen Jackson led Indiana with 23 points and Tinsley had 17. Jermaine O'Neal, continuing a playoff shooting slump, was just 4-of-15 from the field and finished with 10 points.

Reggie Miller, who clinched the Game 3 victory with a basket and four free throws in the closing seconds, had seven points on 2-for-6 shooting and missed all four of his 3-point attempts.

Indiana's only lead came in the opening minutes, when two baskets by Dale Davis and a 3-pointer by Jackson helped the Pacers to a 9-2 lead.

It didn't last long.

The Pacers missed their next 13 shots, and with the nine points by Billups and baskets by Antonio McDyess and Richard Hamilton, Detroit made it 21-10 before a basket by O'Neal — his first after 14 straight misses since the first quarter of Game 3 on Friday.

Detroit led 21-13 after the first quarter, then the Pacers missed their first five shots of the second period — going 1-for-19 over a 13-minute stretch spanning the first two quarters.

Their shooting — 16 percent for the game at that point — improved in the second period with baskets by Tinsley and reserves James Jones and Fred Jones.

A flying dunk by Fred Jones cut Detroit's lead to 10 points. Anthony Johnson then hit one of two free throws to make it 43-34, but Tayshaun Prince hit two free throws and a short jump hook to push the lead to 47-34 at halftime.

The Pacers pulled to 56-50 with five minutes left in the third quarter, but once again they went cold, and a 3-pointer by Prince capped a 16-2 run for the Pistons' biggest lead at 72-52. Indiana came no closer than 12 points the rest of the way and finished the game shooting 37 percent to Detroit's 41 percent.

Notes: The winner of this series will play Miami in the Eastern Conference finals; the Pacers were 3-1 against the Heat in the regular season, and the Pistons were 2-1. ... Indiana's Jeff Foster, who had a career-high 20 rebounds in Game 2 and 12 in Game 3, had only one rebound in 12 minutes. ... The Pacers hit only 3-of-19 3-point attempts. ... Billups' 29 points moved him past John Salley into sixth place (800) in Pistons' career playoff scoring. Hamilton is fifth with 1,055 points.



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