`D' order of the day as Prince, Pistons reject Pacers, 72-67

Detroit's 19th block keeps momentum, game lead to tie Eastern finals 1-1

Pro Basketball

May 25, 2004|By K.C. Johnson | K.C. Johnson,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

INDIANAPOLIS - Here's about the only guarantee worth anything from Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals: Whichever maintenance worker is in charge of repairing the rims at Conseco Fieldhouse is guaranteed some serious work.

In an offensive display that only a sleepy scoreboard operator or defensive purist could love, the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons clanged, dented and bricked their way through another sludge-fest last night.

After the damage was done, Detroit stole home-court advantage with a 72-67 victory, tying the best-of-seven series and making good on Rasheed Wallace's guarantee of a Pistons victory. Wallace can thank his teammates, particularly Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.

Hamilton scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, including eight straight in a momentum-seizing 10-1 run.

Prince then spectacularly blocked an apparent Reggie Miller breakaway layup with just under 20 seconds to play that would have tied the game as Indiana mounted a final charge.

Prince was eight feet behind Miller as the Indiana guard chased down an outlet pass from Jamaal Tinsley, catching Miller at the rim and blocking one of 19 Pacers shots - a Pistons playoff record and the second most in playoff history - before falling violently into the crowd.

"In that situation, a two-point game, I've just got to make a play on the ball," said Prince, who had four blocks. "Before I got there I knew it was going to be a tough play. ... He slowed up just a little bit at the last second and gave me time to get there."

Said Miller: "I saw him in my rearview mirror. In hindsight, I probably should've dunked it, but I thought I had a few steps on him."

Detroit almost blew a 69-63 lead with 1 minute, 38 seconds to play, a huge margin in such an offensively challenged game.

But Indiana scored just 24 second-half points and shot a franchise playoff-worst 27.5 percent for the game. Ron Artest, who fouled out with 1:38 left after scoring 13 points, shot 5-for-21.

Wallace didn't do much offensively, scoring 10 points on 4-for-19 shooting. But he helped hold Jermaine O'Neal scoreless in the second half as the Pacers' go-to guy missed all eight of his shots.

"Our defense, especially the interior, was incredible," Pistons coach Larry Brown said.

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Most playoff blocks

No. Teams Date

20 Philadelphia 4/5/81 vs. Milwaukee

19 Detroit 5/24/04 at Indiana

16 Seattle 5/14/92 at Utah

16 Phoenix 5/24/93 vs. Seattle

16 *Denver 5/17/94 vs. Utah

* 2 OTs

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