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Pistons put away Pacers

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ In a fitting finish, the play of the game was a defensive one. Tayshaun Prince sprinted downcourt to block a breakaway layup by Reggie Miller that would have tied the game, and the Detroit Pistons put on another dominant display of defense to defeat the Indiana Pacers 72-67 Monday night.

Prince's block was the 19th of the game for the Pistons, one shy of the NBA playoff record set by Philadelphia in 1981.

Richard Hamilton scored 13 of the Pistons' final 15 points, finishing with 23, and Detroit evened the series at one game apiece heading into Game 3 on Wednesday night at Auburn Hills.

Miller made four straight free throws to cut a six-point deficit to 69-67, and it appeared he was about to tie it after Jermaine O'Neal blocked a dunk attempt by Rasheed Wallace, and Jamaal Tinsley stole the ball from Chauncey Billups to start a breakaway.

Miller caught a pass well ahead of the field and went in for the tying layup, only to have Prince make a perfectly timed leap to swat the ball away. Prince landed several rows deep in the stands, and it took him a minute to get up. After he did, Hamilton made two free throws for a four-point lead with 14.6 seconds remaining that all but clinched it.

``Good thing I got there,'' Prince said.

The loss was the Pacers' first at home since March 19, snapping a streak of 14 consecutive victories at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Rasheed Wallace, who had guaranteed a victory for the Pistons, shot just 4-for-19 and scored 10 points but made his biggest contribution at the other end, blocking five shots and grabbing eight defensive rebounds.

``We love Sheed to death. We told him 'We got your back and we'll get a win,''' Hamilton said.

Prince and Ben Wallace each blocked three shots and Elden Campbell added three. Billups shot just 1-for-7 with five turnovers but came up with five of Detroit's 10 steals.

Miller scored 21 points and O'Neal had 16 to lead Indiana, which shot only 27.5 percent and was held to three field goals in the fourth quarters.

Detroit had only four baskets in the fourth quarter but scored nine points at the foul line.

Rasheed Wallace finally found his touch midway through the third quarter after he had missed 11 of 12 shots. His three straight baskets gave Detroit a 51-49 lead with 5:46 remaining. Detroit, however, did not have another field goal until Hamilton scored with 2.8 seconds remaining to put the Pistons ahead 55-54 entering the fourth quarter.

Rasheed Wallace came up grimacing after grabbing consecutive rebounds four minutes in, and he missed shots on Detroit's next three possessions. The Pistons made up for it with their defense, repeatedly blocking shots when the Pacers tried to take the ball inside.

Consecutive baskets by Hamilton _ the first coming on a super-rare fast break _ put the Pistons ahead 63-59, and a missed 3 by Miller was followed by Hamilton's 15-foot pull-up for a six-point lead.

Indiana was able to pull within two, but the Pacers' next three possessions ended in two turnovers and an airball. Hamilton made two from the line with 1:38 left for a 69-63 lead.

The first quarter was an exercise in offensive futility, the Pistons missing 13 of their first 15 shots and half of their eight free throws. Ben Wallace left the game after five minutes with two fouls, and coach Larry Brown kept him on the bench for the remainder of the first half.

Rasheed Wallace was razzed by the fans after shooting an airball from 19 feet, and he responded with a ``bring it on'' gesture as he went to the bench with the Pistons trailing 15-6.

A jumper by Hamilton gave the Pistons the lead early in the second quarter, Indiana beginning to struggle offensively as much as Detroit did in the early going. Both teams eventually picked up the scoring pace, and O'Neal's 16 points and Miller's 15 helped the Pacers to a 43-37 halftime lead.
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