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Pistons complete sweep of Magic

Apr 29, 2007 - 3:24 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and the Detroit Pistons showed the Orlando Magic what winning basketball is all about. Now the Magic have the entire offseason to think about what they learned.

Billups and Hamilton combined to score Detroit's final 12 points as the Pistons completed a first-round series sweep of the Magic with a 97-93 victory.

With the win, the top-seeded Pistons recorded their first four-game sweep of a playoff foe in 18 years. Detroit had not swept a best-of-seven series since dominating the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1989 NBA Finals. Detroit beat Indiana, 3-0, in the first round the following season.

"We kept a good focus. We swept the series but by no means was this an easy series," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "We had to play in this series. They definitely didn't give it to us. We had to execute and really lock down defensively."

Detroit has now won sixth straight first-round series and awaits the winner of the Chicago-Miami series. The fifth-seeded Bulls hold a 3-0 lead over the defending champions and can close out the series on Sunday.

It looked like the Pistons might need to return home for Game Five, as the Magic held an 85-80 lead after Grant Hill's dunk with 3:18 to play.

The Pistons took a timeout after Hill's basket and promptly started to take out the Magic.

"It could have gone the other way and we could be playing a Game Five," Billups said. "But we stayed poised, we got stops and we executed down the stretch."

Rasheed Wallace hit a 3-pointer to start a 9-1 run by Detroit. Hamilton posted up Jameer Nelson and hit a turnaround in the lane to give Detroit an 87-86 lead with 1:39 to play. Billups capped the run with a layup 24 seconds later to make it 89-86.

The Detroit backcourt duo combined to make six free throws in the final 20 seconds to ice the game.

"It's good momentum for us. I'm proud of our team for coming out and taking care of business," Billups said. "This game is a game we had never been in, trying to sweep a team. I think we underestimated how tough it was going to be, especially for us to get off to a good start. They just didn't fold. They just never went away. You have to tip your hat to that team."

All-Star Dwight Howard had been muted by the Detroit's front line in the first three games of the series, averaging just 10.7 points while being double- and triple-teamed.

He got loose for 29 points and 17 rebounds and Hill added 17 points.

"I just tried to go out and play as hard as I can," Howard said. "Down 3-0, I just wanted to give the best effort I can."

The only team below .500 to make the playoffs, the Magic have lost seven straight playoff games - all to Detroit - dating to 2003.

"We came out and fought for four quarters. We had opportunities and Detroit just beat us. They're a better team," Hill said. "We just didn't match up well. I think three of the four games could have gone our way. We did the best we could. We didn't always do things right but we gave it our all. We were just unfortunate to come up against a team that was better."

The Magic have been swept twice in best-of-seven series - the 1995 Finals vs. Houston and the 1996 conference finals vs. Chicago.

"I just give them credit. If you're not competing against them, they're just a really fun team to watch," Orlando coach Brian Hill said. "Because of the way they play and their guys are so in tune with each other and so professional. I hope they go a long way."

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