|Pistons Richard Hamilton (left) and Rasheed Wallace laugh about a hoop Hamilton made in the first half. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)|
The Detroit Pistons missed 64 percent of their shots and had a rookie filling in for an All-Star at point guard. It didn't matter.
Detroit set an NBA playoff record with just three turnovers and made just enough shots and stops to advance to its sixth straight Eastern Conference final with a 91-86 win last night over the visiting Orlando Magic in Game 5 of the second-round series.
Richard Hamilton scored 31 points, made victory-sealing free throws late in the game, and Tayshaun Prince had a key block to help Detroit eliminate Orlando.
The Pistons are the first franchise to play in six conference finals in a row since the Los Angeles Lakers went to eight straight in the 1980s. "Now we expect to do this," Hamilton said. "We're supposed to be here."
The Pistons will have a break before facing the Celtics or Cavaliers, and that will help Chauncey Billups, who missed his second straight game with a strained right hamstring.
"It's good to get this over with," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "Now we get a chance to rest."
Detroit overcame an awful shooting night by making free throws, taking care of the ball, and pestering the Magic.
The Pistons were 28 of 32 at the line and didn't turn the ball over once after the first quarter even though Rodney Stuckey was filling in for Billups.
Orlando made just 16 of 28 free throws and had a playoff-high 21 turnovers, which turned into 34 points for Detroit.
Hedo Turkoglu had 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists for the Magic. Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, and Jameer Nelson each had 14 points.
Nelson had guaranteed his team would extend the series with a win. "We played them tough," Nelson said. "If there's anyone in their locker room who didn't think this was tough, they don't know what tough is."
Hornets 101, Spurs 79 - Back pain couldn't keep David West from taking the court with aggression. San Antonio couldn't stop him from dominating.
"Right before we break huddle and come out to the game, we said, 'No excuses,' " West recalled. "Regardless of how I was feeling, I just knew how important this game was for us as a basketball team. I knew I had to play well. I went out there with the intent to play well and things just went my way." Did they ever.
West had career playoff highs of 38 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots, lifting New Orleans to a 3-2 series lead.
New Orleans looked impressive in winning the first two games at home but stumbled in San Antonio. Back in the Big Easy, the Hornets cruised again.
"We've proved all season we're one of the better teams in the NBA," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We had every reason after Games 3 and 4 to fold, but again, being with these guys, they've showed this type of resilience all season, so I'm not surprised."
Chris Paul had 16 of his 22 points in the second half and added 14 assists for the Hornets.
Manu Ginobili led San Antonio with 20 points and Tony Parker had 18. The Hornets held Tim Duncan to 10 points, though he had 23 rebounds.