Pistons run over Bulls, clinch series, but aren't satisfied


Rasheed Wallace shrugged off the Detroit Pistons reaching the Eastern Conference finals for the fifth straight time.

They have a bigger goal in mind, like playing for, and winning, another NBA championship.

"Going to the conference championship, I feel that's nothing," Wallace said. "That's what we're not playing for. We're playing for that big trophy."

The Pistons took another step toward an NBA championship Thursday night.

Richard Hamilton scored 23 points in a 95-85 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 6, clinching a series that turned tense after Detroit won the first three games.

No NBA team has lost a best-of-seven series after taking a 3-0 lead, and the Pistons dismissed the Bulls' shot at history. It's time for another conference final.

"You can't really enjoy it," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said.

Not when you're a team that won the title in 2004, then lost in the finals the following year.

The Pistons want to get back there, after losing the conference championship to Miami last season. That explains the businesslike demeanor after Thursday's win.

"Going to the conference finals is great, but it's like another year for us, you know what I mean?" Billups said. "We've done it every year. That's not one of our goals. Our goal is to win championships so getting to conference championships is on the way."

Down 48-43 at halftime, the Pistons outscored the Bulls 31-21 in the third quarter to take a 74-69 lead, and Chicago could not sustain any momentum in the fourth.

Wallace had 16 points and 13 rebounds for Detroit, while Tayshaun Prince added 17 points and nine rebounds. Billups was just 3-for-12 from the field, but he scored 11 of his 21 points in the third quarter.

A jumper by Wallace, who had received a technical foul just over a minute earlier, and hook shot by Prince made it 85-73 with 2:20 left, and Detroit hung on from there.

"Those guys pushed us," Billups said. "It's human nature at times when you get a cushion to let your guard down a little bit and we did that. Some of it was us, but a lot of it was them. You got to give them credit. They're tough, they don't have much playoff experience, but I'm sure they grew up in this playoff series."

Chicago's P.J. Brown attempted just three shots in the second half after scoring all of his 20 points in the first two quarters, matching his playoff career-high. Luol Deng added 17 points, but the Bulls were off target after shooting 57.3 percent in Game 5.

This time, they were 28-of-75 (37.3 percent), with Ben Gordon (19 points) going 7-for-18 and Kirk Hinrich (11 points) 3-of-13.

The Bulls were trying to become the fourth NBA team to force a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0, and keep alive their hopes of joining another exclusive club. Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders and 2004 Boston Red Sox have rallied from 3-0 deficits to win a best-of-seven series.

The Pistons put the Bulls in that hole by blowing them out in Games — and 2 at home and rallying from 19 down to take Game — at the United Center, but instead of a second straight sweep, Detroit got a fight.

"We just have to get better," Deng said.

The Bulls have been doing that the past three seasons after a long rebuilding period following the Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen era. They lost in six games to Washington in 2005, and pushed eventual champion Miami to six games last year. The expectations jumped when they signed Ben Wallace from the Pistons, and Chicago finished the regular season with 49 wins following a 3-9 start, then swept the Heat in the first round.

It was a major step for a franchise that hadn't won a series since capturing the championship in 1998, but the Bulls came up a little short against the Pistons.

"We started over-dribbling," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "We were doing it some right in the beginning of the game but we were able to get away with it because our effort was good, our intentions were good. We were coming off pick-and-rolls and shooting on the way down. We only had 11 turnovers, but it seemed like a lot more."

Notes: Brown had a season-high 19 points against the Pistons on Feb. 25, and Golden State on Feb. 9. ... The only NBA teams to force a Game 7 after dropping the first three are: Portland against Dallas in the first round in 2003, Denver against Utah in the 1994 conference semifinals and the Knicks in the 1951 finals against Rochester.

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