Sunday, May 11, 2003

Sixers pound Pistons, still trail 2-1

The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA - Every time there was a missed shot, the Philadelphia 76ers showed just how desperate they were.

Dominating the rebounding matchup and outscoring Detroit 38-16 on points in the paint, the 76ers got back into their second-round series by defeating Detroit 93-83 Saturday night to cut the Pistons' lead in the series to 2-1. Game 4 is tonight.

Led by big men Kenny Thomas, Derrick Coleman and Xavier and Withrow High product Tyrone Hill, the 76ers outrebounded the Pistons 48-30 and scored 27 second-chance points in a one-sided game that offered little suspense in the second half.

"We played awful. Horribly," said Detroit's Tayshaun Prince, a former Kentucky Wildcats star. "They killed us on the boards - especially offensive rebounds."

Thomas had a double-double before halftime and finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds - five on the offensive end - before pulling a leg muscle late in the third quarter. He said his injury was not serious.

Hill had nine points and six rebounds in just 22 minutes, but that was still more than Detroit's Ben Wallace managed to contribute in 36 minutes. The NBA's leading rebounder was held to six points and six rebounds.

"His numbers may not look as good as normal, but I don't question his heart or effort," Detroit coach Rick Carlisle said. "He'll bounce back tomorrow, and we'll bounce back tomorrow."

Allen Iverson had 25 points and 11 assists, Keith Van Horn had his best game of the series with 17 points, and Coleman added 15 points and eight rebounds. The 76ers grabbed one-third of their rebounds on the offensive end.

All five Philadelphia starters reached double figures as the Sixers avoided falling behind 3-0 - a deficit no NBA team has ever overcome.

"This was enormous," Sixers coach Larry Brown said.

"It does something for our psyche, the mental aspect," Iverson said. "We come into our own crib and are able to win decisively, it gives us a lot of motivation going into the next game."

The Pistons might have point guard Chauncey Billups available for Game 4. A sprained ankle kept him sidelined for the second straight game, and Billups said afterward he's 50-50 for today.

Richard Hamilton led Detroit with 24 points, Prince had 17 and Chucky Atkins had 13 filling in for Billups. No one else on the team scored more than seven.

Thomas strained his right quadriceps muscle while going for a rebound against Wallace and left for good with 3:50 left in the third.

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