Final

Detroit wins series 4-3 (Game 7 of 7)

Detroit wins series 4-3

Game 1: Monday, May 3rd
Nets56Final
Pistons78
Game 2: Friday, May 7th
Nets80Final
Pistons95
Game 3: Sunday, May 9th
Pistons64Final
Nets82
Game 4: Tuesday, May 11th
Pistons79Final
Nets94
Game 5: Friday, May 14th
Nets127Final
3OT
Pistons120
Game 6: Sunday, May 16th
Pistons81Final
Nets75
Game 7: Thursday, May 20th
Nets69Final
Pistons90

Nets 69

(47-35, 19-22 away)

Pistons 90

(54-28, 31-10 home)

8:00 PM ET, May 20, 2004

The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

1 2 3 4 T
NJ 14 17 19 1969
DET 21 22 30 1790

Top Performers

New Jersey: K. Martin 17 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Blk

Detroit: B. Wallace 18 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Pistons advance to East finals vs. Pacers

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Ben Wallace backpedaled while keeping his right wrist cocked after swishing a 19-foot jumper that put the Detroit Pistons ahead by 25.

A "Big Ben" gong sound echoed throughout the arena as the frustrated New Jersey Nets called timeout, their two-year reign as the best team in the Eastern Conference about to come to an end.

Wallace's jumper was just one of many things for the Pistons that worked to perfection in a Game 7 rout. Chauncey Billups scored 22 points, Richard Hamilton had 21 and the defensive-minded Wallace added 18 to lead Detroit past the Nets 90-69 Thursday night in their Eastern Conference semifinal.

"I thought New Jersey was going to come out with a lot more energy and play a lot harder," Wallace said. "If you would've told me that we were going blow this team out, coming into a Game 7, I would've told you you're crazy."

What if someone had told him Jason Kidd would be held scoreless?

Well, that improbability happened, too, as part of Detroit's dominance of the deciding game.

Detroit took the lead for good in the middle of the first quarter and turned it into a blowout early in the third by holding the Nets to just two points in the first six-plus minutes to go ahead by 24.

Wallace's jumper moments later gave Detroit its largest lead of the game.

The Pistons advanced to the conference finals for the second straight year by knocking off the team that swept them last season.

The victory sets up an intriguing matchup with the Pacers, who are coached by Rick Carlisle -- fired by the Pistons last summer after winning 100 regular season games, two division titles and three playoff series in two seasons.

"It's amazing that we'll be facing him, isn't it?" Hamilton asked. "The buildup is going to be unbelievable. We know we'll have to be aggressive because we know that coach likes to grind."

Game 1 is Saturday night at Indianapolis.

Larry Brown was hired to replace Carlisle, and the Hall of Fame coach improved to 5-3 in Game 7s -- including an 4-0 mark in such games at home.

Two of New Jersey's stars -- Richard Jefferson and Kenyon Martin -- had solid games with 17 points each, but Kidd had a brutal performance.

He missed all eight of his shots, and had seven assists and five rebounds. His previous low in the playoffs in his three seasons with the Nets was a five-point performance in Game 3 against Detroit.

"All the shots looked good, felt good, they just didn't go in," Kidd said. "It's just part of the game.

"There's no excuses. Detroit was the better team."

The star point guard has struggled with a knee injury, and there has been speculation that his back hurts, too. But Kidd refused to talk about his injuries during the series -- or after.

Since Kidd was traded to New Jersey three years ago, the Nets advanced to the NBA finals twice -- without experiencing a Game 7. In fact, New Jersey played in its first Game 7 as an NBA franchise on Thursday night.

The Nets had to know they were in trouble when Ben Wallace, who usually just rebounds and defends, was taking and making shots from the perimeter. He missed just two of 10 attempts.

"That's not the best I've felt -- ever -- but my shot was feeling good," said Wallace, who was just two points short of his career high.

With their raucous crowd on its feet for much of the game, the Pistons became the 73rd team out of 88 to win a Game 7 at home.

"We're back to where we were last year. We need to take it one step further," Ben Wallace said.

Rasheed Wallace, who made Detroit a championship contender when he was acquired in February, had 12 points and seven rebounds.

New Jersey's Kerry Kittles scored 18, and Rodney Rogers added 13. Rogers was the only Nets player who had played in a Game 7 before.

The Pistons had 10 such players, including four who were not a part of Detroit's win in Game 7 of the first round against Orlando last year.

With the series victory, Detroit became just the 20th of 116 teams to advance after falling behind 3-2.

The Pistons routed New Jersey in Games 1-2, then the Nets won big at home in the next two games. The Nets won Game 5 -- a four-hour, three-overtime thriller -- then with a chance to close out the series at home, they lost Game 6.

The Nets built an early six-point lead before Billups' 3-pointer put the Pistons ahead for good with 6:24 left in the first quarter.

The game turned into a rout when the Pistons opened the second half with a 14-2 run -- capped by Ben Wallace's thunderous follow jam -- to go up 57-33.

The Nets went more than eight minutes without a basket over the second and third quarters.

Detroit led by as many as 25 in the third quarter, and took a 73-50 lead into the fourth.

Just when the Nets looked like they might make it interesting by scoring the first eight points of the final quarter to pull within 15, Billups and Hamilton made consecutive 3-pointers and a steal led to Mehmet Okur's alley-oop dunk.

"Our guys gave it everything they had, but Detroit was just the better team," said Nets interim coach Lawrence Frank, who replaced Byron Scott in midseason.

Game notes


Kidd's previous season-low was four points. ... Kidd was shooting 31.3 percent in the series before Thursday. ... Faces in the crowd included rap mogul Jay-Z, rock legend Bob Seger, Lions coach Steve Mariucci, Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman and coach Dave Lewis and Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo ... Brown is 77-76 in the playoffs, one victory shy of Jerry Sloan for sixth place on the career coaching victories list.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
NJ
DET
Points 69 90
FGM-FGA 24-67 (.358) 34-85 (.400)
3PM-3PA 3-16 (.188) 8-21 (.381)
FTM-FTA 18-25 (.720) 14-18 (.778)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-41 8-42
Assists 17 23
Turnovers 16 9
Steals 6 5
Blocks 4 4
Fast Break Points 6 5
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 20 (0/0)

Top Performers

New Jersey
Detroit
Kenyon Martin Martin
Points: 17
Reb: 12
Ast: 1
Stl: 0
Blk: 1
Ben Wallace Wallace
Points: 18
Reb: 8
Ast: 2
Stl: 1
Blk: 2