AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP)—The Chicago Bulls are going home—to play another game.
The Bulls made shots, stops and got to almost every loose ball against the Detroit Pistons.
Suddenly, it’s a series.
Ben Gordon scored 28 points and the hot-shooting Bulls beat Detroit 108-92 Tuesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, pulling to 3-2 in the series.
“We just aren’t ready to go home yet,” Bulls center Ben Wallace said.
Detroit opened the second round with two routs and made a big comeback in the third game, leading some to predict it would end with a sweep—or in five games at the most.
“A lot of people were writing us off,” Gordon said. “But we had a lot of confidence in ourselves and I think that showed in the last two games.”
Game 6 is Thursday night in Chicago and if Game 7 is necessary, it would be Monday night back on the Pistons’ home court.
Chauncey Billups said it’s fair to say Detroit relaxed.
“I can’t say we did that intentionally, but it’s human nature when you get that kind of a cushion to let up a little bit,” he said. “Our team, as you know, is not that good with cushions. Unfortunately, we’ve done that time and time again and have had to go on the road to win.”
Last year at this point of the playoffs, the Pistons had to win Game 6 at Cleveland and Game 7 at home to avoid elimination after winning the first two games. Detroit maintains that long series hurt its chances of going to the NBA finals for a third straight year.
The Bulls started Game 5 with a sense of urgency and didn’t let up in a game they never trailed.
Chicago only missed one of its first seven shots while holding Detroit to 3-of-9 shooting and each starter scored to help build a 14-6 lead.
The Bulls made 72.2 percent of their shots in the first half—falling just short of an NBA record.
“It’s tough to shoot 70 percent with no one guarding you in an empty gym, much less doing it in that kind of pressure situation,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “Having a team shooting like that is demoralizing.”
Despite the sensational shooting, Chicago led by just eight at halftime.
The Bulls turned the game into a rout with a 22-5 run in the third quarter and led by 21 going into the fourth.
Unlike the two previous games, the Pistons didn’t rally at all and were frustrated against a team that looked much like the one that swept the defending NBA Miami Heat in the first round.
“When the game’s going on, I’m not sitting there admiring our shooting, but we obviously did a good job,” Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. “We shot very well against Miami, and then for some reason, we couldn’t knock anything down in the first two games here.”
Chicago finished shooting 57 percent after coming close in the first half to the NBA record the Los Angeles Lakers set by making 74.2 percent of their shots against Seattle during the 1998 playoffs, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Bulls made more shots (26) in the first half and scored just 10 fewer points than they did in all of Game 1. They broke a franchise playoff record with just 23 field goals in the series opener, leading to a franchise postseason-low 69 points.
Gordon connected early and often and had plenty of help.
“I made my first shot and I was in a good rhythm all night,” said Gordon, who made 10 of 16 shots and missed only one of six 3-pointers. “When I was open, I just let it go.”
The Pistons, meanwhile, didn’t have a one consistently effective player on offense and allowed the Bulls to do whatever they wanted at the other end of the court.
The Pistons fell to 12-3 when they have a chance to win a series, with the rare losses coming in the last two games and in Game 7 of the 2005 NBA finals against San Antonio.
“We need a sense of urgency,” Saunders said.
In Game 4, Hinrich appeared to throw a left-handed jab that connected with Flip Murray’s groin on a dunk. Murray said Monday he didn’t think it was intentional, but he wasn’t so sure after seeing the replay for the first time. “I asked him about it, and he said he didn’t mean to do anything to me,” Murray said after Game 5. Hinrich insisted it wasn’t intentional. The NBA did not take action against Hinrich. … Ben Wallace had six points, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks for the Bulls.