Pistons down Nets in Game 7

Posted: Friday, May 21, 2004

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. Detroit's rout ended New Jersey's reign in the Eastern Conference.

Chauncey Billups scored 22 points, Richard Hamilton had 21 and Ben Wallace added 18 to lead the Pistons past the Nets 90-69 Thursday night in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

Detroit took the lead for good in the middle of the first quarter and turned the game into a blowout early in the third by using its dominant defense to hold the Nets to just two points in the first six-plus minutes while opening a 24-point lead.

The Pistons advanced to the conference finals for the second straight year by knocking off the team that swept them last season.

''Tonight everybody came together and we fought,'' Hamilton said. ''There's a lot of things we want to accomplish, and we're still one step away.''

Detroit's victory sets up an intriguing matchup with the Pacers, who are coached by Rick Carlisle fired by the Pistons last summer after winning 100 regular season games, two division titles and three playoff series in two seasons.

Larry Brown was hired to replace Carlisle, and the Hall of Fame coach improved to 5-3 in Game 7s including an 4-0 mark in such games at home.

Two of New Jersey's stars Richard Jefferson and Kenyon Martin had solid games, while Jason Kidd had another poor performance. Kidd was held scoreless, missing all eight of his shots, and had five assists.

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