- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2005

SAN ANTONIO — The goat label didn’t last too long for Rasheed Wallace.

Maligned after blowing a huge defensive assignment that cost the Detroit Pistons in the previous game, Wallace lifted the Pistons to a 95-86 victory against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at SBC Center by scoring seven of Detroit’s last 15 points. The Pistons’ victory means there will be a Game 7 in the finals for the first time in 11 years.

Richard Hamilton led the Pistons with 23 points. Chauncey Billups added 21, and Wallace finished with 15.

Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 21 each. The loss doesn’t bode well for San Antonio, which has a 1-5 record in Game 7s.

For the Pistons, the win ended an 11-game losing streak here that dated to April 1997.

The Spurs found themselves down by seven points at the start of the fourth quarter, but Duncan scored nine of 11 points in one stretch, including back-to-back baskets that pulled San Antonio within 87-86.

Out of a timeout, Tayshaun Prince hit an off-balance shot in the lane. Detroit’s Ben Wallace then blocked Ginobili’s layup, and at the other end Rasheed Wallace scored on a putback of a Billups’ miss to give the Pistons a 91-86 lead.

Following a timeout with 1:25 left in the game, the Spurs missed four shots, and Billups put the game out of reach with a pair of free throws with 25 seconds left.

The last time the loser of Game 5 rebounded to win the final two games of the series was 1994, when the Houston Rockets beat visiting New York. Since moving to the 2-3-2 format in 1983, the road team never has won Games 6 and 7.

The Pistons rallied to win Game 7 on the road at Miami to win the Eastern Conference title, and they came back from a 2-1 deficit to beat the Pacers in the conference finals.

The first four games of the finals were decided by an average of 21 points, but the last two have been much closer.

There was some question about the level of intensity of both teams following Game 5, a 96-95 overtime victory by the Spurs that was finalized when reserve Robert Horry sank a 3-pointer with a little less than six seconds to play.

The Spurs, a much better shooting team when they are at home, began the game by making 10 of 19 shots from the floor.

The Pistons, however, began the night playing with a sense of urgency, and the quarter ended in a 23-23 tie.

Detroit opened the second on a 12-4 run, going ahead on Rasheed Wallace’s 3-pointer.

But after a timeout, the Pistons came somewhat unraveled as coach Larry Brown and Billups both were flagged for technical fouls.

The march to the free throw line were part of a 13-3 run, capped by a midrange jumper from Duncan that gave the Spurs back the lead 40-38.

Despite the technicals, the Pistons trailed just 47-46 at halftime [-] much better shape than their last game at SBC Center. In Game 2, which Detroit lost by 21 points, it trailed by 16 points at the half.

Things tightened up even more in the third quarter, when no team managed to lead by more than four points.

Billups and Hamilton scored all but six of the Pistons’ 25 points in the period, which ended with Detroit leading 71-67.

A three-point play by Antonio McDyess to start the third quarter gave the Pistons the largest lead of the game to that point at 74-67.


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