Pistons eliminate Sixers with resounding winMay 2, 2008 - 4:21 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- For much of the series, the Detroit Pistons were criticized for not showing up against the Philadelphia 76ers. It was the other way around on Thursday.
Richard Hamilton scored 24 points and Chauncey Billups added 20 and seven assists as the Pistons eliminated the 76ers with an 100-77 victory in Game Six of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Tayshaun Prince added 12 points for second-seeded Detroit, which will open the conference semifinals against the third-seeded Orlando Magic on Saturday. The Pistons will be aiming for their sixth straight trip to the conference finals.
Detroit left little doubt in this one, scoring the first 10 points of the game en route to a 30-12 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The Pistons, who shot a sizzling 58 percent (39-of-67) from the field, never looked back.
"We treated this game like it was our Game Seven," Hamilton said. "We knew that we had another game back in Detroit if we didn't win, but we didn't look to it. The guys came out and played aggressive on both ends of the floor and got a win."
"We wanted to try to get off to a good start," Prince said. "Rip got going early, we moved the ball offensively. We got a lot of high-percentage shots and we were able to knock them down."
But a series win was not always a foregone conclusion.
While a championship has been Detroit's goal all season, it nearly did not get past the opening round thanks to some lackadaisical play.
The Pistons lost Game One at home and, after evening the series in the second contest, fell behind 2-1 in the best-of-seven matchup with a sluggish loss in Game Three. They trailed early in Game Four before pulverizing the 76ers in the second half to effectively win the series.
"When you look at what we did in the second half of Game Four, and what we did in Game Five, our feeling was that we could jump out and put a little bit of doubt in," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We've been through closing situations and we know what it takes. You need to show the other team that you are not going to go though the motions."
"We really didn't catch a rhythm until the second half of Game Four," Hamilton said. "We got our defense going, our offense going and we kept carrying it over. Hopefully, (we) can take it to the next series."
Since that pivotal third quarter, Detroit left little doubt that it deserved the championship hype that preceded it entering the postseason.
The ignitor of the Pistons' offense, Billups also struggled for much of the series but came on late, netting 11 points in the second quarter of this one - including a jumper as time expired to make it 51-33 at halftime.
The final two quarters were nothing more than a glorified scrimmage as a previously energized Philadelphia crowd filed out after the third quarter as the air was taken out of it quickly.
The Sixers did not score until Willie Green nailed a pair of free throws three minutes into the opening period. But the Pistons kept the pressure on.
Hamilton hit his fourth jumper and Prince sank one of his own to give Detroit a 14-2 lead with 8:04 to go. Prince later hit a jumper to push the advantage to 22-7 with 3:56 remaining.
"They hit baskets and we were stuck in the mud," Sixers guard Andre Miller said. "They didn't want to put themselves in a position where we would go into a Game Seven on Saturday. They came out and went after it."
But the star of the opening period was Hamilton, who scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field and was 3-of-3 from the line. Detroit shot 11-of-16 from the field in the first 12 minutes.
"It was important to come out and hit them first," Hamilton said. "We really wanted to come out on the defensive end. My first basket was off of a steal, and that really set the tone for the rest of the game."
After scoring eight straight points that were capped by an alley-oop dunk by Samuel Dalembert, Philadelphia got within 34-22 in the second quarter.
Detroit answered with seven straight points, including a key 3-pointer by rookie Rodney Stuckey. Antonio McDyess concluded the run with a jumper that made it 41-22 with 6:20 left in the half.
It was more of the same in the third quarter for the Pistons thanks to Hamilton, who hit a shot from the arc with 11:16 to go to make it 54-33 and let the Sixers know there would be no relaxation in the final two periods.
Billups ended the quarter strong again, nailing a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left to give the Pistons a 79-51 lead entering the final period.
"It was difficult because it was on our home court," Miller said. "They got into a rhythm, and Chauncey picked it up and got it moving."
Andre Iguodala scored 16 points for the Sixers, who surprised everyone by making the postseason in their first full season without former franchise centerpiece Allen Iverson.
PHILADELPHIA 77 FINAL
May 1 10:30 PM
PHILADELPHIA 51 END, 3RD QTR
May 1 10:01 PM
PHILADELPHIA 33 HALFTIME
May 1 9:11 PM
PHILADELPHIA 12 END, 1ST QTR
May 1 8:38 PM
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