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Pistons on brink of East final

May 18, 2005 12:11 IST

Ben Wallace had 19 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks as the Detroit Pistons used a tenacious defense to beat the Indiana Pacers 86-67 in National Basketball Association play-off play in Auburn Hills on Tuesday.

Tayshaun Prince added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons, who held Indiana to just 11 third quarter points to put the game out of reach.

"I just wanted to come out and be aggressive and get on the board," Wallace said. "We did a great job moving the ball from side to side and getting putbacks."

With the victory, Detroit moved into a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series.

The defending NBA champions can advance to the East final against the Miami Heat with a Game Six win in Indianapolis on Thursday.

In the day's other play-off game in San Antonio, Manu Ginobili scored 39 points as the Spurs beat the Seattle SuperSonics 103-90 to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference semi-final series.

Detroit's stifling defense held the Pacers without a field goal for a 10:39 stretch from late in the second quarter to early in the third, allowing the Pistons to build a 22-point lead.

Chauncey Billups had 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Pistons, who led 42-35 at the half and out-scored the Pacers 27-11 in the third quarter.

Detroit opened the second half with a 15-0 run and were never threatened after that as both teams emptied their benches.

"I thought we made them work for every shot and for the most part gave them only one shot," Detroit head coach Larry Brown said.

"That was probably as good of a half of basketball as we have played."

Richard Hamilton also scored 13 points for the Pistons, while Rasheed Wallace chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.

Jermaine O'Neal led the Pacers with 14 points, although Indiana shot just 37 percent (24-of-65).

"It was a tough night," Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle said. "The last 31 minutes were not what we had in mind and sometimes it goes that way, but you have to give Detroit credit."

Stephen Jackson had 12 points and Anthony Johnson added 11 points off the bench but the Pacers did not have anybody else in double figures.

Retiring Pacers star Reggie Miller was held to just eight points and no rebounds or assists in 31 minutes.

If a seventh game in the series is necessary, it will be played back in Auburn Hills on Sunday.

Play-off history is certainly on the side of the Pistons.

Of the previous 123 series that were tied 2-2, the team that won Game Five has advanced on 103 occasions, or 84 percent of the time.

In San Antonio, Tim Duncan had 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Spurs, who pulled clear in the second half after the game was tied 50-50 at the intermission.

San Antonio can wrap up the series with a Game Six victory in Seattle on Thursday.

Nazr Mohammed had 19 points and seven rebounds for the Spurs, who out-scored Seattle 28-18 in the third quarter.

Ray Allen led Seattle with 19 points, as the SuperSonics struggled without the injured Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic.

Antonio Daniels added 17 points for the Sonics.


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