Prince, shorthanded Pistons survive vs. MagicMay 11, 2008 - 2:00 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- Without Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince was the big shot for the Detroit Pistons.
Prince nailed a tough runner with 8.9 seconds left to lift the Pistons to a 90-89 victory over the Orlando Magic in Game Four of their Eastern Conference semifinals series Saturday.
Richard Hamilton scored 32 points for Detroit, which took a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven matchup despite the absence of the Billups, who missed the game with a strained right hamstring.
Known as "Mr. Big Shot" for his late-game heroics, Billups was injured early in the first quarter in a 111-86 loss to the Magic here in Game Three. After a few days of treatment, which included running in the team hotel, it was determined he could not give it a go in this one.
Pistons coach Flip Saunders even said that Billups would not have played if it were Game Seven of the NBA Finals.
Luckily for Detroit, Prince played as if his team's season was on the line, scoring 17 points - none bigger than his final two.
"We swung the ball on that play and got a pick-and-roll, and I was able to hit a floater over Dwight Howard," said Prince, who called veteran guard Lindsey Hunter a savior for his big shots in the third period.
Jameer Nelson had nailed 1-of-2 free throws to give Orlando an 89-88 lead with 44.8 ticks left, setting up Detroit's wild final possession.
The Pistons went to Rasheed Wallace, who badly missed a turnaround jumper off the right side of the iron. But the carom was run down in traffic by Antonio McDyess, who was able to reset the offense.
Detroit then swung the ball to the right wing, where Prince started his drive across the lane, using a pick from Wallace to put in a running hook which resembled an awkward push shot.
On the ensuing possession, Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu missed a driving layup and the offensive rebound was tapped off the glass as time expired.
"It was Hedo's play 1-on-1, but I don't know why he held the ball as long as he did," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We've had two end of the game possessions in Game Two and one (Saturday), and we haven't gotten a very good shot on any of them. You've got to lay that on me.
"Second-chance points killed us today. They had 18 and, on top of that, they shot over 50 percent in the second half. It became their game, a grind-it-out half-court game, and they played that game a lot better than us."
It was a close call for the Pistons, who erased a 15-point, third-quarter deficit to secure the win. That's where Hunter came in, hitting two key 3-pointers in an 18-2 third-period run that transformed a 63-48 deficit into a 66-65 lead.
"Lindsey worked to always be ready, and the big thing he gave us was great defensive pressure," Saunders said. "He gave us some leadership and toughness.
"And there were a lot of times in this game, considering circumstances, we could've said that it's not going to be our night and just wait until we get home. But our guys grinded it out, and that's a part of what we do as a team."
After getting back into the game in the third, Detroit took its largest lead in the fourth on Wallace's jumper with 5:20 left to make it 82-75.
But Turkoglu, who scored 13 points in the final period, put the Magic on his back, scoring six points in an 8-0 run - including a 3-pointer that capped the burst and gave Orlando an 83-82 advantage with 3:05 left.
After two free throws from Hamilton with 2:47 remaining, Turkoglu hit another shot from the arc to make it 86-84. Hamilton answered with a jumper, but Turkoglu scored again on strong drive to for an 88-86 lead with 1:14 left.
Magic guard Keyon Dooling then made a fatal mistake, shoving Hamilton to the floor and picking up personal and technical fouls in the process. Hamilton made 2-of-3 free throws to tie the game at 88-88 with 59.9 seconds, setting up the final sequence.
It was an off game for Orlando superstar Howard, who collected just eight points and 12 rebounds. He shot 3-of-12 from the field, with his last field goal coming with 7:!3 left in the opening period.
"He (Dwight) couldn't get in there and get the easy baskets he wanted," Wallace said. "We wanted a physical game. That's right up our alley."
"We just got away from our game, and that's the only way to beat these guys (play an open-court style)," Howard admitted. "I got a little frustrated tonight."
Nelson was more adamant in his reflections.
"I'm not trying to be arrogant or cocky or anything like that, but we let this game slip out of our hands tonight," he said. "And we let Game Two slip out of our hands.
"We're going to win the next game in Detroit."
ORLANDO 89 FINAL
May 10 7:39 PM
ORLANDO 70 END, 3RD QTR
May 10 6:57 PM
ORLANDO 55 HALFTIME
May 10 6:08 PM
ORLANDO 27 END, 1ST QTR
May 10 5:33 PM
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