Billups' return better late than never for Detroit


PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Chauncey Billups' shooting touch was as good
as his prediction.

"During the timeout before overtime, I told them, 'I'm about to
take this game over,'" said Billups, who scored nine of his 28
points in overtime to lead Detroit to a series-ending 93-89 victory
over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night.

The Pistons advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the
first time since 1991 -- the year after winning their second
straight NBA title. Detroit will play the defending East champion
New Jersey Nets, beginning Sunday afternoon, for the right to go to
the NBA Finals.

Billups gave the Pistons a 92-89 lead with 15.2 seconds left in
overtime on his third 3-pointer of the extra session. He scored
Detroit's first six points of OT on 3-pointers.

"I was very, very aggressive in overtime, trying to look for my
shot. I turned it on. My mentality changed."

After Allen Iverson missed a driving layup with 10 seconds to
go, Chucky Atkins made a free throw to ice it with six seconds

The Pistons, who set an NBA record by going 8-0 in overtime
games during the regular season, improved to 2-0 in overtime in the

"I can't say enough about our team and what they've been able
to do," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "We've had injuries,
situations, and everybody on our roster has been instrumental to us
getting to this point."

Iverson, who was late arriving at the arena because he
supposedly was stuck in a traffic jam, scored 38 points -- including
six in the row in overtime to tie the game after Detroit went ahead

Richard Hamilton scored 19 points, Corliss Williamson had 17 and
Tayshaun Prince added 14 for the Pistons, who had lost 14 of 15
road playoff games.

Derrick Coleman had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Kenny Thomas
added 12 points and 14 rebounds.

"They got it done and we didn't," Iverson said. "We couldn't
catch a break and we put ourselves in a bad situation with fouls."

The Sixers had a chance to win it in regulation after Billups
made two free throws to tie it at 81 with 14.6 seconds left.
Iverson brought the ball upcourt, but couldn't get a shot off as he
was guarded by Prince. He passed to Coleman too late for a
buzzer-beating attempt.

"If I shot the ball, he would've blocked it," said Iverson,
who has never made a "walk-off" shot to end a game. "It's not
supposed to come down to that."

After Prince's layup gave Detroit an 89-83 lead midway through
overtime, Iverson scored six straight on a short jumper and two
driving layups to tie it.

Detroit missed twice on its next possession, and Iverson missed
a 20-footer with 37 seconds left to set up Billups' final

"We have a lot of options at the end of games, but I'm the guy
more often," said Billups, Detroit's leading scorer in the

Iverson didn't arrive at the First Union Center until 32 minutes
before the scheduled starting time of 7:30 p.m. EST. He had no
problem getting on track early, hitting five of his first six shots
and scoring 21 in the first half.

But Iverson missed seven straight at one point in the second
half and 13 of his last 18. He finished 14-for-33.

"It wasn't a distraction, it was a disappointment," Sixers
coach Larry Brown said of Iverson's lateness. "He played his heart

Billups was 6-of-18, including 5-of-13 from beyond the arc, and
made all 11 of his free throws. Ben Wallace had 10 points, 18
rebounds and five steals.

Keith Van Horn again disappeared offensively for the Sixers,
scoring just two points on only four shots. Van Horn was
Philadelphia's second-leading scorer in the regular season with
15.9 points per game, but averaged just 7.8 against Detroit.

"We definitely need other guys to step up and contribute
offensively," Iverson said, refusing to single out Van Horn.

A 14-2 run by the Pistons tied the game at 30 with 4:24 left in
the first half. But the Sixers outscored Detroit 14-6 to take a
44-36 halftime lead. Greg Buckner hit a 3-pointer and Coleman got a
fast-break slam just before the quarter ended.

Philadelphia opened a 20-8 lead in the first quarter with a 16-0
run. Iverson scored six straight to start the run on a 14-footer
and two layups. Three-pointers by Aaron McKie and Coleman
sandwiched around a 20-footer by Iverson closed it. Detroit went
scoreless for a stretch of 5:58 before Hamilton made a turnaround

Game notes
Philadelphia's Eric Snow and Detroit's Williamson fouled
out in overtime. ... Sixers F Tyrone Hill missed his second
straight game with a right calf strain. ... Sixers coach Larry
Brown got a technical in the third quarter for complaining that
referee Bennett Salvatore was making too many of the calls. Iverson
and Williamson got technicals in the second quarter. ... Detroit
was 31-of-38 from the foul line. The Sixers were 19-of-22.