- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 8, 2004

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Chauncey Billups flicked his wrist and sent a high-arching 3-pointer through the air. Jason Kidd, standing helplessly in the lane, followed the flight of the ball as it went through the net.

It was a sight he saw often.

Billups scored 28 points and had a career-playoff high 13 assists to lift the Detroit Pistons to a 95-80 win last night over the New Jersey Nets, and a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal.

“They kept making shot after shot, you look up and all the sudden you’re down 12,” Kidd said.

Richard Hamilton, Billups’ backcourt partner, also scored 28 points as Detroit’s guards outscored New Jersey’s — Kidd and Kerry Kittles — 56-14.

Billups and Hamilton made 18 of 33 shots. Kidd and Kittles were 5-for-22.

“When we can get it going like that, we’re tough to beat because we know our big men are going to do the dirty work,” Billups said.

Rasheed Wallace had 15 points and three blocks and reserve Corliss Williamson had 11 for the Pistons, who took control of the game by outscoring the Nets 27-11 in the third quarter. Ben Wallace had eight points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

Game 3 of the best-of-7 series is tomorrow night in New Jersey.

“We haven’t done anything yet,” Billups said. “We just held our serve.”

Detroit’s victory in Game 1 snapped the Nets’ streak of 14 consecutive postseason victories against Eastern Conference teams, dating back to the first round last year. The streak included a sweep of the Pistons in the conference finals.

The two-time Eastern Conference champion Nets are trailing a playoff series 2-0 in the East for the first time since adding Kidd before the 2001-02 season.

“There’s a first for everything,” Kidd said. “We’ve come a long way in three years. We’ve had some success, now this is a bump in the road and we’ll see how we handle it.”

Just seven teams in NBA history have won best-of-7 series after trailing 2-0.

New Jersey’s Kenyon Martin, who had 19 points and eight rebounds, fouled out with 1:10 left. Richard Jefferson also had 19 and Rodney Rogers scored 11 off the bench. Kidd had 11 assists.

The Nets took their first lead late in the first quarter, led 46-34 at halftime, and didn’t trail again until Hamilton’s two free throws with 3:43 left in the third.

Williamson’s basket about a minute later capped a 19-2 run and gave the Pistons a 57-52 lead.

New Jersey pulled within two points twice early in the fourth quarter before Detroit went on a 17-4 run — highlighted by Rasheed Wallace’s two 3-pointers — to take an 81-66 lead with just under six minutes left.

The Nets cut their deficit to seven, but couldn’t get closer.

“I think we just played our best half of basketball,” Pistons coach Larry Brown said. “I don’t know if we can play better than that.”

In Game 1, Detroit held the Nets to 56 points — the second-lowest total in NBA playoff history — in a 22-point loss. The Nets shot a franchise-playoff low 27.1 percent, and tied an NBA postseason record for fewest field goals with 19 on Monday night.

New Jersey looked like it might be in for another rough shooting night when it missed its first six shots. But then the Nets scored some fast-break baskets, and relentlessly went after offensive rebounds for second and third chances.

They led 46-34 at halftime, scoring just 10 points fewer than they did in Game 1. New Jersey also had 27 rebounds, two fewer than they did in the previous game.

Martin had 12 points in the first half and Jefferson had nine, each with one more point than they scored Monday night.

But the game turned in the second half when the Nets tied another franchise-playoff record with an 11-point third quarter.

When New Jersey needed its two top scorers most — in the game-turning third quarter — Martin and Jefferson combined for just five points on 1-for-6 shooting.

“I don’t think we were great in the first half — it was just a good, solid half of basketball,” Jefferson said. “We know we are capable of playing like that. In the second half, we just stopped doing it.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide