Richard Hamilton scored 23 points and the Detroit Pistons advanced to the NBA Eastern Conference final for the fifth year in a row by beating Chicago 95-85 on Thursday.
Chauncey Billups added 21 points for the Pistons, who eliminated the Bulls 4-2 in the best-of-seven series and will play the winner of Cleveland and New Jersey's series for a spot in next month's NBA Finals.
"Our goal is to win the championship. The conference finals are on the way," Billups said. "Maybe one day I'll look back on getting there five straight times."
Detroit lost to Miami in last year's Eastern Conference finals, lost to San Antonio in the 2005 NBA Finals, defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals and lost to New Jersey in the 2003 east final.
"Experience has a tendency to help out," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "There's no question having been here, our guys know what it takes. We have guys to make big shots and big defensive stands," he said.
"It's a hell of an accomplishment to go five straight years to the conference finals," he said.
Since 1984, when the NBA expanded the playoffs to the current 16 teams, only the Lakers have reached a conference final more consecutive seasons than Detroit's present run, the longest in the east since Chicago's fifth in 1993.
"Almost all the time in a seven-game series the best team wins," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "They're the best team right now. They deserved to win."
Chicago's P.J. Brown scored all of his team-high 20 points in the first half to lead the Bulls to a 48-43 half-time lead, but Detroit opened the third quarter with a 12-1 run to seize command.
"We started moving the ball," Detroit forward Rasheed Wallace said. "That first half we were just stagnant. We didn't move the ball."
The Bulls never overcame their sluggish start to the second half.
"Right at the start of the second half we let up," Skiles said. "We didn't have the same juice. We looked slow for four minutes. Those hurt us."
"We started missing some shots and the ball stopped moving for us," Chicago's Kirk Hinrich said. "That usually spells trouble for us."
Wallace, who scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds, said the Pistons changed nothing about their defense on Brown in the second half but the Chicago sparkplug could simply not continue his hot shooting.
"He was getting the same shots. We were still contesting," Wallace said. "The first half he was on fire."
Chicago, which lost the first three games but hoped to level the series and force a seventh game tomorrow, had 19 points from Ben Gordon and 17 from Sudan-born Briton Luol Deng.
"We came up against a team that is experienced and kind of used to this," Deng said.
Tayshaun Prince scored 17 points for Detroit, which held off a late rally bid by sinking free throws.
Billups, who made only 3-of-12 shots from the field, sank all 14 of his free throws. Hamilton, 9-of-18 from the field, was 5-of-5 from the line.
The Bulls were attempting to become only the fourth team in NBA history to force a seventh game in a best-of-seven series after losing the first three, a feat last completed by the Los Angeles Clippers against Dallas in 2003.
"That team challenged us," Billups said. "They fought us hard. They played great. You give those guys any space, it's trouble. We learned that the last game at home. We didn't want this thing to go any longer. We wanted to lock in."