for this game

Sixers crush Pistons, grab 2-1 lead in series

Apr 26, 2008 - 4:26 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Confidence has to be at an all-time high in the "City of Brotherly Love".

Samuel Dalembert collected 21 points and 16 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Detroit Pistons, 95-75, on Friday to grab a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.

Andre Miller scored 21 points and Andre Iguodala contributed 10 and four steals for the Sixers, who held a commanding 51-35 advantage in the second half.

Philadelphia will look to build on its success in Game Four here on Sunday.

"People are seeing that we are playing hard," Iguodala said. "That is something that you have to do when you are young. You are going to make mental mistakes just because you haven't had the experience yet in the playoffs. As long as you play hard, it will make up for a lot of mistakes."

Richard Hamilton scored 23 points and Tayshaun Prince chipped in 18 for Detroit, which shot just 40 percent (27-of-66) from the floor and committed 25 turnovers.

"They put a lot of pressure on us and we turned the ball over," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "Our strength as a team is the way we are able to take care of the basketball. We led the league with the fewest turnovers and we had the fewest points scored off of turnovers.

"When you turn the ball over 25 times and they score 28 points off of those turnovers ... and they take your strength and turn it into a weakness, you are going to struggle."

With just a four-point lead at intermission, the Sixers were able to turn up the pressure in the third quarter on the more experienced Pistons, who dealt with turnovers and fouls the entire game.

"We took some things from their book," Iguodala said. "We tried to play tough defense and tried to make them take contested shots, close off the middle and rebound the ball. When they missed all those shots, we were stopping them early, we didn't give them extra opportunities at the basket. It was one possession and out and we were getting out on the break."

Hamilton hit a pair of free throws to pull Detroit within 58-50 at the 7:15 mark. But Philadelphia opened the game up for good behind a 12-5 surge to forge a 70-55 advantage heading into the fourth.

Miller's driving layup with 9:02 remaining pushed Philadelphia's lead to 21 points - and the Sixers never looked back.

Dalembert's eight first-half points matched his combined effort from the first two games of the series. His defense on Rasheed Wallace was also stellar, holding the Philadelphia native to just two points with three turnovers through the first two quarters.

"I tried to stay closer to the rim," Dalembert said. "Watching the first couple of games, I realized that I was so much away from the basket. I was trying to stay with Rasheed and not let him shoot the three. By doing that, there was no inside defense and they were killing us left and right. This time, I tried to get a little closer to the rim and tried to help make a difference in controlling the paint."

After controlling the middle in the first two games, the 6-11 Wallace was held check with just two points on 1-of-6 shooting in 34 minutes. He entered averaging 15.0 points and 8.0 boards.

"It's definitely disappointing. Right from the start, they had a lot more energy for whatever reason," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "For myself, I got to play better to beat them. I think that Rasheed and I have to have some better nights to beat anybody at this point of the season."

Despite shooting 61 percent (19-of-31) from the floor at the break, Detroit trailed 44-40 at halftime due in large part to 11 turnovers and poor free-throw shooting (2-of-8).

"We talked about the keys to starting off the game and taking care of the basketball," Prince said. "They beat us at those key points of the game. We went on a long drought of missing shots and it started with those keys."

Hamilton and Prince combined for 29 of total points at the break.

In the third, Detroit suffered a blow to its starting lineup when Antonio McDyess went down with a broken nose with 7:24 left and didn't return. He finished with two points.

"It's been broken before so I used to it, but this time they have to set it. I might have to go back to Detroit," McDyess said. "I really don't know at this point. I hope that I can play Sunday but I have to follow what the doctors say. If it is safe enough, I will. I just have to see what they say."

The Sixers dominated the paint in all aspects, holding a 43-34 edge on the glass with 11 coming on the offensive side.

"I thought that our concentration in keeping them off the boards was a big factor," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "That is why we were able to get in the open court. I thought that our active hands and defensive rebounding were the keys to the game."

"We mixed it up against them," Dalembert said. "We came out there and we didn't give them the same look down the floor. By switching up and doing things that they were used to, that really helped us out. We were prepared to come in after the second game and we made an adjustment."

Detroit seemed in good shape in the first as Hamilton, who grew up in nearby Coatesville, poured in eight points to lock things up at 20-20 after the first.

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