Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/23

Game 1: Friday, November 23rd
Game 2: Friday, January 25th
Game 3: Wednesday, January 30th
Game 4: Monday, April 8th

Hawks 99

(31-46, 9-29 away)

Pistons 105

(47-30, 25-13 home)

    Coverage: FSS

    7:30 PM ET, April 8, 2002

    The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

    1 2 3 4 T
    ATL 29 21 22 2799
    DET 25 29 23 28105

    Top Performers

    Atlanta: J. Terry 24 Pts, 4 Reb, 12 Ast, 4 Stl

    Detroit: Z. Rebraca 18 Pts, 13 Reb, 3 Ast, 7 Blk

    Detroit claims first division title in 12 years

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Jerry Stackhouse knows his Detroit Pistons are capable of winning more than a division championship.

    Jerry Stackhouse

    Jerry Stackhouse thanks the Detroit fans after the Pistons wrapped up the Central Division title.

    Monday, though, taking that first step was cause for a party.

    Stackhouse had 18 points and 12 assists, one short of a career high, as the Pistons clinched their first Central Division title since the 1989-90 NBA championship team by beating the Atlanta Hawks 105-99 Monday night.

    "This is just an unbelievable feeling," Stackhouse said. "We came from nowhere last year to win a division title. There are a lot of players who have never done that."

    Even with Stackhouse's effort, the night belonged to Zeljko Rebraca, who had career highs with 18 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocks. The Yugoslav rookie replaced injured the Ben Wallace -- who leads the league in blocks and rebounds -- and helped Detroit pull to two games of New Jersey for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

    "This was a great opportunity for me, and I wanted to play my best game," he said. "I told Ben before the game that I had to do his job, and that's what I did. Now we are the champs."

    Chucky Atkins led the Pistons with 20 points, and Cliff Robinson added 19.

    "We can celebrate tonight, because this is a tremendous achievement that no one expected these guys to do," said Pistons coach Rick Carlisle. "Tomorrow, we'll start thinking about the Chicago game on Wednesday and about catching New Jersey. The first priority is to get Ben healthy."

    Shareef Abdur-Rahim, who scored 50 points against the Pistons earlier in the season, led Atlanta with 23, while Jason Terry added 22.

    "We had plenty of opportunities to take the ballgame," Terry said. "When you are playing the best team in the East, you want to take advantage of Ben Wallace not being in the game, but Rebraca really stepped his game up. You go in against him, and you don't think he can jump, but he still blocks the shot."

    The Pistons trailed by as many as nine points in the first quarter, but came back to take a 54-50 lead at intermission.

    The teams traded the lead in the third, but five consecutive points from Atkins helped the Pistons take a 77-72 edge into the final period.

    The Hawks pulled to 80-78 on Hanno Mottola's two free throws with 9:26 to play. The Pistons, though, answered with a 10-1 run that included four points from Corliss Williamson and Jon Barry's 3-pointer.

    That gave Detroit a 10-point edge, and although some missed free throws let Atlanta get close in the final minute, the Pistons were able to hang on.

    "We just needed to fight them off a little longer than we did," Hawks coach Lon Kruger said. "But they made a run at us and we couldn't fight it off long enough."

    After the final buzzer, the celebration began, with streamers falling from the Palace ceiling and Europe's "Final Countdown," the Bad Boys theme song, on the sound system. The players donned championship T-shirts and Stackhouse found a microphone to thank the fans.

    "We really wanted to do it tonight, so that the fans could share this with us," he said. "Atlanta came in here to spoil our party, but we wouldn't let them do it."

    Game notes

    Barry wrenched his back in the final seconds of the first half, but returned in the fourth quarter. ... Carlisle needs three victories in the final five games to break Chuck Daly's team record of 50 by a first-year coach. ... Kruger is 1-7 as a coach against Detroit. ... The previous three Detroit division champs (1988-1990) all went to the NBA finals. ... Atlanta's Alan Henderson missed the game with a sore knee. ... Rebraca had the first double-double of his career.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 99 105
    FGM-FGA 39-91 (.429) 41-79 (.519)
    3PM-3PA 5-8 (.625) 7-15 (.467)
    FTM-FTA 16-27 (.593) 16-24 (.667)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 19-47 7-39
    Assists 24 28
    Turnovers 14 15
    Steals 7 9
    Blocks 3 14
    Fast Break Points 8 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 21 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Jason Terry Terry
    Points: 24
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 12
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0
    Zeljko Rebraca Rebraca
    Points: 18
    Reb: 13
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 7