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Published: Wednesday, 4/30/2008

Detroit takes first series lead against 76ers

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Chauncey Billups fouls the Sixers' Luis Williams last night in Game 5. The point guard led the Pistons with 21 points as Detroit was the first team in the series to win back to back. Chauncey Billups fouls the Sixers' Luis Williams last night in Game 5. The point guard led the Pistons with 21 points as Detroit was the first team in the series to win back to back.
DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The Detroit Pistons might have won Game 5 more than an hour before it started.

Music wasn't rattling the locker room. Eyes were locked on the big-screen TV showing the previous matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Chauncey Billups scored 21 points, Richard Hamilton had 20 and Rasheed Wallace added 19 to lift Detroit to a 98-81 victory over Philadelphia last night and a 3-2 lead in the series.

"We knew Game 6 was going to be an elimination game either way it went," Billups said. "We wanted to be on the upper hand of that."

The Pistons lead in the series for the first time after being the first team to win consecutive games.

"We didn't want to let an opportunity slip away," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said.

If the Pistons win Game 6 on tomorrow night in Philadelphia or Game 7 at home, they will advance in the playoffs for the seventh year in a row.

"I'll be back," Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks said to hecklers as the final seconds ticked off the clock. "I know you don't believe me."

The third-seeded Orlando, which eliminated Toronto on Monday night, awaits the winner in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Pistons insist they're not looking ahead because they expect to see the Sixers' best.

"I don't think they're going to lay down at all," Wallace said. "It's do or die for them. It's not going to be a cake walk."

Andre Iguodala scored a career playoff-high 21 points, finally putting together a night that resembled his play in the regular season.

"We hope that can propel him into the next game," Cheeks said. "He's been struggling all series."

Iguodala didn't have much help. None of his teammates reached double figures until Andre Miller in the third quarter, but that was after the point guard missed nine shots in a row in the first half when the game was relatively close.

"We tried to pressure up on him and Rasheed had some blocks," Saunders said.

Billups, Wallace and Hamilton combined for 58 points through three quarters, outscoring the Sixers until Rodney Carney made a 3 to end the quarter, cutting their deficit to 20 points.

Billups had a series high in points (21) and assists (12).

Wallace had six blocks, one short of the playoff franchise record he matched in Game 1.

Jason Maxiell had a career playoff-high 11 rebounds, starting for Antonio McDyess, who is playing with a broken nose.

Detroit's Tayshaun Prince finished with 17 points, giving the team a fourth option offensively.

Miller finished with 13 points and reserve Louis Williams scored 16.



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