Wed, May 28, 2008 - Page 20 News List

PLAYOFFS: Pistons defeat Celtics to level series

STEPPING UP Although Chauncey Billups had another sub-par game as he shakes off the effects of a hamstring injury, Flip Saunders was full of praise for Antonio McDyess

AFP , DETROIT, MICHIGAN

The Detroit Pistons' Antonio McDyess, left, and the Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce scramble for a loose ball during the third quarter of game four of the NBA Eastern Conference finals on Monday, in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

PHOTO: AP

Antonio McDyess scored 21 points with 16 assists on Monday as the Detroit Pistons beat the Boston Celtics 94-75 to even their NBA semi-final series at two games each.

Detroit’s Richard Hamilton scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter as the Pistons bounced back from game three defeat on their home floor.

The Celtics host game five today.

“Now it’s a three-game series,” said Boston’s Ray Allen. “We have to protect our home court.”

The Pistons were on fire from the tip-off, scoring 10 of the first 12 points and never surrendering control to the tenacious Celtics.

Boston cut their deficit to 78-73 in the fourth quarter, but the Pistons finished the game with a 16-2 scoring run to seal the victory.

Kevin Garnett scored 16 points with 10 rebounds and Paul Pierce added another 16 points for the Celtics, who shot a woeful 32 percent (21-of-66) from the field.

McDyess, the only Pistons starter without an NBA championship ring, sparked Detroit’s opening surge with eight of Detroit’s first 10 points.

“I just tried to get open shots, knock down shots, get the energy going, let people feed of that,” McDyess said. “I think I did that.”

McDyess, who was vocal in rallying the team in the wake of their game three defeat, said he was determined to do everything he could to keep the Pistons’ championship hopes on track.

“I’m almost to the end of the road,” said McDyess, who joined Detroit as a free agent after the Pistons won the 2004 NBA crown. “You only have so many opportunities. I just feel like leaving everything out on the floor.”

“I can accept going out on court, leaving everything we have out there and losing. But not leaving everything and losing is not acceptable,” he said.

McDyess also spent much of the game guarding Kevin Garnett, who had averaged 24 points in the first three games.

“I’m so proud of him, just how he’s been with his leadership,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. “After the film session [Sunday], ‘Dyess said, ‘We’ve been talking that everything is all right. We’ve got to make it happen. We can’t talk about it.’”

In the first three games it was the Celtics who took control early, jumping out to leads of 8-0, 10-4 and 11-0.

“I think they just really wanted to get out to a good start,” Allen said. “When they jumped on us, it set us back on our heels offensively and defensively. We slowed the tide in the second quarter, but by that time we gave them momentum.”

“Going into the second quarter, we had one assist,” Allen said. “Anytime that happens, we aren’t going to do ourselves any favors in trying to score.”

But the Celtics managed to keep it close.

They were within five points early in the fourth quarter, but Jason Maxiell scored six points in less than two minutes early in the period.

He also played some tough defense against Garnett, and nabbed a rebound that led to a fast-break layup by Hamilton with 6:21 left that put the Pistons up 76-67.

Chauncey Billups, who had another sub-par game while still recovering from a hamstring injury, made only 3-of-12 shots from the field.

But he hit a 3-pointer with 2:55 to play to build the Pistons’ cushion to 83-73.

Pierce scored five points in a 7-2 first-quarter surge by the Celtics as they cut the Pistons lead to 22-17.

Free throws kept the Celtics going. They outscored Detroit 17-5 from the foul line in the first half, which ended with Boston trailing just 43-39.

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