Billups participates in shootaround but doesn't play against Magic

Updated: May 14, 2008, 2:22 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Chauncey Billups doesn't do interviews before he plays, so when he spoke to reporters, that provided the update of the night.

The All-Star point guard said his right hamstring was not healthy enough to help the Detroit Pistons in Game 5 of their second-round series with the Orlando Magic.

NBA Dish With Dumars

Pistons GM Joe Dumars dishes with Chad Ford on the Detroit-Orlando series and the prospects of Chauncey Billups, right, playing in Game 5. Listen

"My improvement from yesterday to today was amazing, but I still haven't been able to sprint full court and that's a concern," Billups said before the Pistons eliminated the Magic anyway with a 91-86 win. "I'm getting better, but I'm not quite ready yet."

Detroit replaced Billups in the starting lineup with rookie Rodney Stuckey. He had 15 points and six assists.

Lindsey Hunter, a veteran with more than a decade of playoff experience, logged 15 minutes but had only three points.

Billups was hurt early in Game 3 and did not play the following game, which Detroit won to take a 3-1 lead in the series.

The Pistons were back at home and became the first franchise to play in six straight conference finals since the Los Angeles Lakers did it from 1984-89.

A win Tuesday night gave Detroit a needed break as Boston and Cleveland play out their Eastern Conference semifinal, which is tied 2-all heading into Wednesday night's game on the Celtics' home court.

Billups went through a strenuous workout confined to a 15-foot area on Monday, the day before Game 5, and did some basketball-related drills during the morning shootaround Tuesday.

"In the long run, it's better to be safe than sorry -- especially at the time right now," he said.

Billups has averaged 17.7 points and 2.5 assists for every turnover in 105 playoff games as a Piston since 2003, when their run of conference finals appearances started.

Earlier Tuesday, the Pistons had expressed optimism regarding Billups' condition.

After watching Billups participate in Tuesday morning's shootaround, Pistons general manager Joe Dumars said he thought the guard, who has a strained hamstring, would play.

"He was moving pretty good," Dumars told ESPN.com's Chad Ford. "I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I think he's going to try to give it a go tonight. That's what it looks like. But he looked really good today in shootaround."

Billups received treatment on the hamstring and went through a workout with strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander before the practice.

"If you look at it from three or four days ago to today, it's night and day," Kander said. "Running good. Feeling good. He's had no setbacks and he comes in every morning feeling better."

Billups injured the hamstring on Thursday after getting tied up under the basket with an Orlando player in the opening minutes of the first quarter of Game 3. He did not play in Game 4, which the Pistons won 90-89 in Orlando to push the Magic to the brink of elimination.

"We truly err on the side of caution here," Dumars said. "We never try to push a guy out on the court and try to make him play. Chauncey's a guy who understands this. He's not the kind of guy who's going to go out there and do anything crazy and try it and hurt himself."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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