PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Every time there was a missed shot, the Philadelphia 76ers showed just how desperate they were.
Dominating the rebounding matchup and outscoring Detroit 38-16 on points in the paint, the 76ers got back into their second-round series by defeating Detroit 93-83 Saturday night to cut the Pistons’ lead in the series to 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday night.
Led by big men Kenny Thomas, Derrick Coleman and Tyrone Hill, the 76ers outrebounded the Pistons 48-30 and scored 27 second-chance points in a one-sided game that offered little suspense in the second half.
“We played awful. Horribly,” Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince said. “They killed us on the boards—especially offensive rebounds.”
Thomas had a double-double before halftime and finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds—five on the offensive end—before pulling a leg muscle late in the third quarter. He said his injury was not serious.
Hill had nine points and six rebounds in just 22 minutes, but that was still more than Detroit’s Ben Wallace managed to contribute in 36 minutes. The NBA’s leading rebounder was held to six points and six rebounds.
“His numbers may not look as good as normal, but I don’t question his heart or effort,” Detroit coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’ll bounce back tomorrow, and we’ll bounce back tomorrow.”
Allen Iverson had 25 points and 11 assists, Keith Van Horn had his best game of the series with 17 points, and Coleman added 15 points and eight rebounds. The 76ers grabbed one-third of their rebounds on the offensive end.
All five Philadelphia starters reached double figures as the Sixers avoided falling behind 3-0—a deficit no NBA team has ever overcome.
“This was enormous,” Sixers coach Larry Brown said.
“It does something for our psyche, the mental aspect,” Iverson said. “We come into our own crib and are able to win decisively, it gives us a lot of motivation going into the next game.”
The Pistons might have point guard Chauncey Billups available for Game 4. A sprained ankle kept him sidelined for the second straight game, and Billups said afterward he’s 50-50 for Sunday.
Thomas strained his right quadriceps muscle while going for a rebound against Wallace and left for good with 3:50 left in the third quarter.
By then, the Sixers were ahead 64-44, and they never needed Thomas back. Van Horn made a 3-pointer 14 seconds later to give Philadelphia its largest lead— 22.
Jon Barry hit a 3-pointer with 3:12 left to pull the Pistons to 86-75, but Iverson scored Philadelphia’s next five points to keep it from getting any closer.
The 76ers asserted themselves on the boards early. When Hill grabbed the third offensive rebound of a single possession and turned it into a three-point play for a 23-18 lead, it gave Philadelphia a 17-4 edge in rebounding.
“The rebounds were a joke. The second-chance points in the first half was embarrassing,” Barry said.
The Pistons gave Atkins a rest at the start of the second quarter, and Iverson took advantage of his matchup against slow-footed Barry to spark an 8-3 run that gave the Sixers a 31-22 lead.
Thomas had a double-double—10 points and 10 rebounds—after making a 12-footer to cap a 7-0 run that gave Philadelphia a 44-30 lead. Detroit scored seven of the next eight points, but Snow ended the half with a jumper for a 48-37 lead after Price committed a traveling violation while isolated one-on-one against Hill.
Van Horn’s 3-pointer capped a 7-0 run to start the second half, putting Philadelphia ahead by 18. The Sixers led by at least 16 for the rest of thethird quarter.
Cliff Robinson was only 1-for-6, and Barry was 2-for-6. … Philadelphia’s Aaron McKie also struggled, going 0-for-3 from the field. … Detroit’s Danny Manning had his first playing time of the series, playing the final 4 1/2 minutes and picking up three fouls with no points. … Van Horn became a father for the fourth time Saturday when his wife gave birth to their thirddaughter, Haley.