Friday, May 03, 2002

Stack stinks, Detroit wins anyway

Pistons 85, Raptors 82

AP Sports Writer

Detroit Pistons' Chucky Atkins waves goodbye to the Toronto Raptors bench in the final moments of the fourth quarter.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Detroit Pistons proved all season that they could win without Jerry Stackhouse carrying the scoring load. They did it again Thursday night, right when it really counted.

        Stackhouse had only five points, but his first field goal after an 0-for-8 start put Detroit ahead to stay with 1:43 left as the Pistons eliminated the Toronto Raptors 85-82 in Game 5 of their first-round series.

        The Pistons are in the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time since 1991, and Stackhouse advances for the first time in his seven-year career.

        All eyes were on Stackhouse, especially after he joked before Game 3 that he wanted to end the series because he had plans for the following day.

        “Everyone outside this room said all the weight was on me, but that's not how this team works,” said Stackhouse, who was 1-for-10 from the field and 3-for-5 at the line. “Our veteran guys, like Cliff (Robinson), Corliss (Williamson) and Jon Barry stepped up and won the game for us.”

        The Raptors had a chance to become just the seventh team to overcome a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-five series. But they made only one basket in the final 2 1/2 minutes, and Chris Childs forced up a terrible shot with 7 seconds left on Toronto's final possession.

        Detroit will play the winner of the Boston-Philadelphia series, with Game 1 set for Sunday.

        Stackhouse's shot from just inside the free throw line put Detroit ahead 81-79.

        “I knew Stack was going to hit a big shot,” Detroit coach Rick Carlisle said. “I just felt it in my heart.”

        Stackhouse, Detroit's leading scorer, didn't score at all until making a free throw with 9:38 left in the third quarter.

        However, it didn't surprise Toronto coach Lenny Wilkens that Stackhouse made a clutch shot in the final minutes.

        “He's that type of player,” Wilkens said. “It's not like it surprised us.”

        Williamson scored a career playoff-high 23 points, and his basket on an inbounds play with 26.8 seconds left, with the shot clock about to expire, put the Pistons ahead 83-79.

        The NBA's Sixth Man of the Year was traded to Toronto for Jerome Williams during the 2000-01 season.

        “To be honest, it was kind of personal, but I don't want to get into that,” Williamson said. “It's a team game.”

        Toronto's Dell Curry made a 3-pointer with 11.1 seconds left to pull the Raptors to 84-82. Stackhouse made a free throw, and Childs raced upcourt and launched a running 3-pointer while being closely guarded by Chucky Atkins. The shot bounced hard off the backboard, and the Raptors were so stunned by it that they didn't even bother to foul and stop the clock.

        The crowd erupted with a level of applause that hadn't been experience at The Palace since the Bad Boys era, when Detroit won NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.

        “It's just an unbelievable feeling, and it's something that hasn't been done here in a long time,” Stackhouse said. “It's huge relief.”

        Atkins had 14 points, Barry scored 12 and Ben Wallace grabbed 17 rebounds and scored six points.

        Curry scored 14 of his 17 in the final quarter. Childs scored 16, and Keon Clark continued his strong play with 15.

        “We did a lot of things well, but a game like this comes down to all the little things at the end,” said Childs, who also stepped out of bounds with 21.7 seconds left. “They did all those things right.”

        The Pistons entered the final quarter ahead 63-59.

        Toronto tied the game at 66 and 73. After the Raptors led by four, Robinson made four straight free throws to tie it at 77 with 3:01 left.

        Toronto got off to a good start.

        The Raptors led by as much as nine in the first and 26-21 after the quarter.

        Two Detroit reserves — Barry and Williamson — scored 21 straight points to give the Pistons two leads early in the second period.

        Barry's 3-pointer at 10:17 of the second put Detroit ahead 30-28, its first lead since scoring the first point.

        Barry scored 12 points in 2:58 span over the end of the first and beginning of the second, while Williamson scored 10 points in five-plus minutes.

        Childs made consecutive 3-pointers to put Toronto back ahead, 44-42, with 3:03 left in the half. The Raptors led 48-46 at halftime.

        They maintained the lead until Atkins' 3-pointer gave Detroit a 53-52 lead with 7:01 to go in the third.

        Notes: For the second time in the series, Pistons fans booed the Canadian national anthem, but unlike the sustained boos before Game 1, Thursday's boos were limited to a small portion of the crowd and they didn't last for more than 20 seconds. ... When Indiana's Reggie Miller made a 3-pointer to force the first of two overtimes in the Pacers' loss at New Jersey, his sister, TBS reporter Cheryl Miller, jumped from her seat in the second row and celebrated by pumping her fist. ... Curry scored 11 in the first four games, and Wilkens did not to play him in Game 2.


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