81 - 98 Final
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Pistons rout Sixers, gain control in series

Apr 30, 2008 - 3:40 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- This was the performance that Detroit Pistons coach Flip Saunders has been waiting for from his three All-Stars.

Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace all contributed in huge ways as the Pistons rolled to a 98-81 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game Five of their Eastern Conference opening-round series on Tuesday.

After falling behind, 2-1, to the seventh-seeded Sixers in the series, the Pistons have finally gained control and are one win away from facing the third-seeded Orlando Magic in the next round.

"We did what we were supposed to do," Saunders said. "We won at home. When we got the ball to our people, we shot the ball well and played good offensive basketball. We got back to playing a little bit grittier defensively and offensively we started moving the ball."

Detroit can close out the series with a victory in Game Six in Philadelphia on Thursday. The Pistons are bidding to return to the conference finals for the sixth straight season.

"You definitely want to have a repeat performance," Billups said. "You want to go out there, wherever it's at, play the same exact way. Elimination games are always the hardest to win because that other team who is facing elimination is going to be fighting, scratching and clawing. It's going to be a good challenge for us."

"The series is not over until someone gets four wins," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "That's the essence of it right now. We've got to play a little better, obviously. We have to play a little better on the defensive end. Can't turn the ball over as much and we've got to defend a little bit better 1-on-1."

Hamilton scored 20 points and Wallace had 19 and six blocks for Detroit, which shot a blistering 58 percent (43-of-74) from the floor and forced 18 turnovers.

Billups finished with his first double-double of the series, collecting 21 points and 12 assists for his best outing. He also played great defense on 76ers guard Andre Miller, who finished with 13 points.

"(Billups) had a little but more pop in his step and a little more lift on his shot as well as rotation on the ball," Saunders said. "He felt better about himself shooting the ball. He had a couple of turnovers but he did a nice job of running the offense."

"He opens everything up for them," Miller said. "Our game plan was to make him hit jumpers, and he did what he was supposed to do. By the time we made any adjustments, it was over."

The All-Star trio was the story of the opening half for the Pistons, who shot 60 percent (24-of-40) en route to a 54-42 advantage. Billups netted 17 points at the break.

With the Pistons holding a commanding lead at intermission, they continued to add to their cushion as Wallace nailed a 3-pointer and Hamilton scored on layup to create an insurmountable 77-51 lead at the 3:44 mark in the third.

Detroit took the lead for good when Tayshaun Prince's layup sparked an impressive 18-2 burst to forge a 28-12 advantage with 2:56 left in the first. Billups scored 14 points in the period as the Pistons held a 35-21 edge going into the second.

"It was a great game for us," Billups said. "We picked up on the momentum that we had in the second half of the last game, of Game Four. We came home, we knew we were going to be in our home building and we knew it was going to be loud and we just took care of business from the jump ball."

"We wanted to be the team that goes out and try to make a run early and I thought we did a great job of that," Hamilton said.

Philadelphia swingman Andre Iguodala had his breakout game with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting. The 6-6 Iguodala entered posting 10.5 points on 22-percent shooting over the first four games.

"Obviously it was a matter of time before (Iguodala) came out and make some shots," said Prince, who scored 17 points. "He was aggressive."