Cloudy Currently: Auburn Hills, MI
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EDT Tue May 3, 2005
  • TV: TNT

SERIES: Eastern Conference first round; Pistons lead 3-1.

Thanks to last season’s MVP of the NBA Finals, the Detroit Pistons have a chance to wrap up their postseason series with the Philadelphia 76ers on their home court.

Chauncey Billups looks to continue his solid play in the postseason as the Pistons try to end their first-round series against the Sixers with a victory in Game 5.

Billups averaged 21.0 points on 51 percent shooting (29-for-57), and added 5.2 assists as Detroit beat the Los Angeles Lakers in five games last June to win its first title since 1990.

In Game 4 of this series on Sunday, he came up big again.

Billups scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, Rasheed Wallace hit a couple of 3-pointers in overtime and Detroit overcame a strong effort by Allen Iverson to go up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series with a 97-92 victory in Philadelphia.

Billups is averaging 17.8 points, 6.8 assists and 6.0 rebounds in the series.

“That’s why I love him to death,” teammate Richard Hamilton said of Billups. “He’s not intimidated by any situation. He always finds a way to hit big shots.”

Billups scored 10 straight points for Detroit to end regulation, hitting two 3-pointers, a nice fadeaway and a couple of foul shots as the Pistons came back after falling behind by nine with just over 6 minutes left.

“It seemed like the tide was turning, nothing was really going good for us,” Billups said. “I wasn’t really making too many shots. I wanted to try. If I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down fighting.

“Shots just started going for me and we started to run a couple of plays for me.”

After Billups carried the Pistons in a frantic finish to the fourth quarter, Wallace hit a decisive 3-pointer with 1:29 left in OT. Hamilton, who finished with 20 points, hit a runner from the baseline with 14.5 seconds left before sealing the win with a couple of free throws.

Iverson again did his best to carry the Sixers, scoring 36 points on 14-for-24 shooting with eight assists.

Chris Webber added 23 points for Philadelphia, including several key baskets in the third and fourth quarters. Samuel Dalembert had 15 rebounds for the Sixers.

Iverson did all he could in going over 30 points for the third time in the series, including a jumper with 28.3 seconds left in regulation that gave the Sixers a short-lived 82-80 lead.

“I don’t think we let them off the hook,” Iverson said. “We just couldn’t stop them when we needed to stop them.”

Billups hit a 3-pointer from the corner that gave the Pistons an 83-82 lead with 22 seconds left, but got a little too aggressive and fouled Willie Green with 3.1 seconds remaining.

But Green, a 78 percent free-throw shooter, missed the first attempt before hitting the second to tie the game.

“I was just concentrating on trying to sink it, but, unfortunately, I came up short on a free throw that could have won the game for us,” Green said.

Game 6, if necessary, will be Thursday in Philadelphia.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: 76ers - 7th seed. Pistons - 2nd seed.

PROBABLE STARTERS: 76ers - F Webber, F Kyle Korver, C Dalembert, G Andre Iguodala, G Iverson. Pistons - F Rasheed Wallace, F Tayshaun Prince, C Ben Wallace, G Hamilton, G Billups.

PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: 76ers - Iverson, 30.5 ppg and 10.8 apg; Dalembert, 13.5 rpg. Pistons - Hamilton, 21.0 ppg; Ben Wallace, 12.0 rpg; Billups, 6.8 apg.

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