NBA: Celtics 89, Pistons 81
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. ó Boston got past an old nemesis to set up a matchup with another rival.
Paul Pierce scored 27 points, Ray Allen had 17 and Kevin Garnett added 16 to lift the Celtics to an 89-81 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Boston, which locked up with Detroit many times in the 1980s, will now rekindle another classic series in the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Pistons were eliminated on their home court for the first time during a six-year run that included a trip to the conference finals each year and the 2004 title.
Boston entered the series without a road win in the postseason, then beat Detroit on its home court twice to win the grueling series.
After playing two Game 7s, the Celtics will get a needed break before hosting Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Thursday night.
Chauncey Billups scored a playoff-high 29 points and Richard Hamilton had 21, but the rest of their teammates had lackluster efforts ó especially Rasheed Wallace.
Wallace scored just four points on 2-of-12 shooting and had three turnovers in what might’ve been his last game as a Piston and could’ve been Flip Saunders last as Detroit’s coach.
After it was 58-all, Detroit closed the third quarter with a 10-2 run and took its first lead since midway through the opening quarter.
Just when it seemed the Pistons might be in control with a 70-60 lead early in the fourth, the Celtics scored nine points in less than 2 minutes and went on a 19-4 run that put them ahead 79-74.
Billups’ three-point play pulled Detroit to 83-79 with 2:24 left, then the Pistons wasted a chance to get closer.
Tayshaun Prince grabbed a loose ball after a Boston miss and turned the ball over when James Posey surprised him from behind and snatched it away.
Pierce made two free throws on the possession, putting the Celtics up by six with 11/2 minutes to go.
The Pistons failed on their 3-pointers down the stretch and couldn’t take advantage of Garnett missing two free throws with 36 seconds left.
The Pistons were eliminated at home for the first time since Pierce helped Boston do it in the second round of the 2002 playoffs. Detroit had won its previous five games this postseason when coming off a loss.
Detroit lost Game 6 of the conference finals for the third straight year with only one title and two NBA finals appearances during its impressive six-year run.
By Bret Strelow Salisbury Post GRANITE QUARRY ó The past-meets-present moment occurred earlier this week when East Rowan coach Brian... read more