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Published: Thursday, 5/2/2002

Stackhouse keeps mum

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Detroit Pistons' Jerry Stackhouse watches from the bench during the first-half of NBA first round playoff action against the Toronto Raptors. Detroit Pistons' Jerry Stackhouse watches from the bench during the first-half of NBA first round playoff action against the Toronto Raptors.
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Jerry Stackhouse knew all eyes were on him.

The Detroit Pistons star also realized there were ears waiting to hear what he had to say the day before the biggest game of his seven-year career.

But he wasn't in the mood to talk yesterday after Detroit went through final preparations for the fifth and final game of its first-round series with Toronto.

After brushing off reporters at the Pistons' practice facility, he returned a call to the Associated Press for a short conversation a couple hours later.

"The only thing I've got to say is 48 minutes," Stackhouse said, referring to the length of an NBA game. "I don't want to talk about anything else right now. After the game, I'll answer every question."

There will be plenty - win or lose.

If the Pistons win, he will be asked: "What does it feel like to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time in your career? How rewarding is it to alter your game from being a shoot-first shooting guard to a team-first player?"

If the Raptors win, Stackhouse will be asked: "Do you feel like Kevin Garnett, who has yet to advance to the second round of the playoffs? Do you regret joking that you wanted to eliminate the Raptors in Game 3 on Saturday because you had plans for Sunday?"

Stackhouse scored a playoff career-high 31 points to give Detroit a 2-0 lead in the series but has made just 33.3 percent of his shots over four games.

"I don't know if it's been him or our defense, but he's in somewhat of a slump," Toronto's Keon Clark said. "Hopefully, he'll stay in a slump if that's what it is. If it is our defense, hopefully we'll keep that up."

The Pistons won 50 games and the Central Division title this season because they took pressure off Stackhouse by taking and making shots.

Detroit's Jon Barry said that has to continue in Game 5.

"That's unfair to put pressure on Jerry to say that Jerry has to get us to the next round," Barry said. "This is a team that has played as a team all year long."

Chris Childs knows the Raptors will have to do more than just slow down Stackhouse to win.

"They have an individual player that can light up the scoreboard at any given time," Childs said. "But we are playing the Pistons' team, and we have to keep our focus just on that and not try overcompensate on just one player."

One player who needs to play well for Toronto for a second straight game is former Michigan State star Morris Peterson, who has made just 8-of-35 shots in his last three games at the Palace, including two playoff contests.

Teammate Antonio Davis criticized Peterson for being distracted by too many family and friends when he plays near his hometown of Flint. Peterson admitted that he puts extra pressure on himself when he plays at the Palace.

He said yesterday his solution was to turn off his cell phone to stop the endless ticket requests he's been getting from friends and family in Michigan.

The Pistons took a day off Tuesday after losing Game 4, while the Raptors didn't.

"There's no time for days off," Davis said. "We'll take a day off after its all over. We'll have a bunch of days. We're going to use our time very wisely."

The Pistons plan to take advantage of the home court advantage they earned during the regular season.

They insist they don't feel extra anxiety to follow up their surprising season by advancing in the playoffs, especially after winning the first two games in the best-of-five series.

"I'm excited to play, but I don't feel pressure," Detroit's Chucky Atkins said. "We're expecting to win. Every game you play, you expect to win."



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