Sun, May 18, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Pistons finish off Sixers

AP , PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

Richard Hamilton, left, of the Detroit Pistons loses control of the ball after charging into Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Friday.

PHOTO: AFP

The Detroit Pistons advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1991, as Chauncey Billups scored nine of his 28 points in overtime to lead them to a series-ending 93-89 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.

Billups, who missed Games 2, 3 and 5 with an ankle injury, gave the Pistons a 92-89 lead with 15.2 seconds left in overtime on his third 3-pointer of the extra session. He scored Detroit's first six points of OT on 3-pointers.

Detroit will play the defending East champion New Jersey Nets beginning Sunday afternoon for the right to go to the NBA Finals.

The Pistons, who set an NBA record by going 8-0 in overtime games during the regular season, improved to 2-0 in overtime in the playoffs.

After Allen Iverson missed a driving layup with 10 seconds to go, Chucky Atkins made a free throw to ice it with six seconds left.

Iverson scored 38 points -- including six in the row in overtime to tie the game after Detroit went ahead 89-83.

Richard Hamilton scored 19 points, Corliss Williamson had 17 and Tayshaun Prince added 14 for the Pistons, who had lost 14 of 15 road playoff games.

The Sixers had a chance to win it in regulation after Billups made two free throws to tie it at 81 with 14.6 seconds left.

A 14-2 run by the Pistons tied the game at 30 with 4:24 left in the first half. But the Sixers outscored Detroit 14-6 to take a 44-36 halftime lead. Greg Buckner hit a 3-pointer and Derrick Coleman got a fast-break slam just before the quarter ended.

Philadelphia opened a 20-8 lead in the first quarter with a 16-0 run. Iverson scored six straight to start the run on a 14-footer and two layups. Three-pointers by Aaron McKie and Coleman sandwiched around a 20-footer by Iverson closed it. Detroit went scoreless for a stretch of 5:58 before Hamilton made a turnaround jumper.

Phil Jackson upbeat

Phil Jackson is feeling good about his own health, as well as the future of the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I think I would have been a little more defeatist at another time," Jackson said following the Lakers' 110-82 loss to the Spurs that ended their three-year run as NBA champions. "I have to feel better about my own personal health and the direction I'm going. We've had a great run."

Jackson's self-described most difficult season as a coach ended Thursday night five days after he underwent an angioplasty to unblock an artery to his heart.

The 57-year-old Jackson said he intends to return next year and fulfill the final year of the five-year, US$30 million deal he signed with the Lakers in June 1999.

"I would suggest that next year there will be more changes than in years past," general manager Mitch Kupchak said. ``We'll do everything we can to upgrade this team.

CTV will broadcast Sacramento at Dallas (game 7) at 9:30am today.

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