AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- As Tracy McGrady walked off the court, he responded to Detroit's taunting fans by flashing three fingers, then two, to signify his team's lead in the series.
"There's no reason to get discouraged,'' McGrady said after his
team's 31-point loss. "They're still playing catch-up.''
Richard Hamilton was one of six Pistons in double figures with
24 points, and Detroit held McGrady to 19 in defeating the Orlando
Magic 98-67 Wednesday night in Game 5 of their first-round series.
The Pistons have made a choice: Rather than becoming the third
No. 1 seed to lose in the first round since 1984, they'd prefer to
join the small number of teams to have made an improbable comeback
from a 3-1 deficit.
"The way we played tonight, anything is possible,'' said
Detroit's Ben Wallace, who had 14 points, 21 rebounds, four steals
and three blocks. "I think we've got a chance to win this series.
... But we still have a long way to go.''
The Magic, the eighth-seeded team in the Eastern Conference,
lead the best-of-seven series 3-2. Game 6 is Friday night in Orlando.
The Pistons are hoping to become just the seventh team -- and the
first since Miami in 1997 -- to win a series after trailing 3-1.
The Heat in 1999 and Seattle in 1994 are the only top-seeded
teams to lose in the first round of the playoffs since the NBA went
to a 16-team format.
"I don't think history has any bearing on what's going to
happen Friday night,'' Orlando coach Doc Rivers said.
Detroit rookie Tayshaun Prince, after not playing in Game 4,
scored a career-high 15 points and matched a career-high with six rebounds.
"I didn't even have a clue I was playing, so it was a surprise
to me,'' Prince said.
McGrady entered the game as the highest scorer in the playoffs,
averaging 36.3 points after four games, but he shot just 8-of-20.
It was only the second time in McGrady's last 56 games that he
didn't score at least 20.
"Every time I got by one guy, there was another guy there for
me,'' McGrady said. "It was a great strategy.''
Prince and Michael Curry -- the two primary defenders against
McGrady -- equaled his point total of 19.
The Magic never led, were outscored 25-10 in the final quarter
and made just 32 percent of their shots.
Orlando has not advanced in the playoffs since 1996, when
Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway swept Detroit in the first
round before eventually losing to Chicago in the Eastern Conference
The Pistons advanced last season for the first time since 1991.
McGrady wants to make it at least to the second round for the
first time in his career to distance himself from Minnesota's Kevin
Garnett, who has been knocked out of the first round the past six
seasons and trails the Los Angeles Lakers 3-2 in their first-round
Orlando pulled to 59-51 -- its first single-digit deficit in
nearly 20 minutes -- midway through the third quarter. But the
Pistons responded with 12 straight points to take a 73-51 lead and
remove any doubt about the outcome.
Hamilton, who has struggled in Orlando during the series,
continued a trend of playing great at home.
He made more than half of his shots and scored 58 points in
Games 1-2, then missed more than two-thirds of his shots and had just 26 points in Games 3-4.
Hamilton scored his 15th point early in the second quarter while
the Magic were stuck on 13.
The Pistons had a double-digit lead after the first quarter for
the fourth straight game. A 10-2 run gave Detroit a 20-8 lead, and
it began the second quarter ahead 26-13.
Wallace had six points on three dunks and eight rebounds, one
more than Orlando's entire team. He also blocked Shawn Kemp's
3-point shot into the fourth row for a shot clock violation with a
few seconds left in the first quarter.
"I liked the energy I was feeling,'' Wallace said. "I said
some things the last couple days and called some of my teammates
out, and they responded.''
Detroit coach Rick Carlisle chose to not play Corliss
Williamson after he averaged 18.8 minutes and 9.3 points over the
first four games. ... The Pistons made 23 of 28 free throws and the
Magic were 14-of-17 at the line, but Rivers said the game was
officiated well. ... Orlando tied a franchise-playoff low with 10