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Injury-riddled Pacers shoot 33 percent

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- As the Detroit Pistons walked off the floor,
a few dozen fans clad in red, white and blue serenaded them with a
chant of "Beat L.A.!"

Forgive those folks for getting ahead of themselves, both with
the results of this series and the one in the West. Given the way
the Pistons played in Game 5, it's looking quite likely that
Detroit will make it to the championship round.

Richard Hamilton scored a career playoff high 33 points, 12 of
them coming in succession when the Pistons took the lead for good
in a 83-65 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night for a
3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

"Even coming out warming up, there were a lot of fans out there
chanting "Go Pistons," Detroit forward Corliss Williamson said.
"It's nice to know that we have fans that are faithful enough to
follow us here and try to get us that extra edge we need. You
really don't expect to see that in someone else's arena."

Many of those fans made the five-hour drive from Michigan, where
Game 6 will be played Tuesday night with the Pistons having the
opportunity to clinch the franchise's first trip to the finals
since 1990.

"Well, we've still got some unfinished business with these
guys," said Darvin Ham, who joked with Rasheed Wallace in the
locker room afterward about one of the eight field goals Wallace
made.

The basket came midway through the fourth quarter after Indiana
had cut an 18-point deficit to five, Wallace taking a pass in the
left corner and hitting a tough 16-foot turnaround over Reggie
Miller.

"Were you laughing when you shot that?" Ham asked.

"I was laughing before I caught it," Wallace replied. "I had
Reggie on me."

Wallace finished with 22 points in another game dominated by
defense, and Hamilton did most of his damage in the second and
third quarters before hitting a 3-pointer that ended all doubt with
1:45 remaining.

Wallace was the only Pistons player besides Hamilton to reach
double figures.

"Detroit played their game at a higher level than we were able
to play our game," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.

Detroit held the injury-riddled Pacers to 33 percent shooting
and won on Indiana's home court for the second time in the series.

Several of the Pistons exchanged high-fives with their fans, who
held up signs reading "Bad Boys are Back" and "It's HamilTime."

Indiana got only 11 points from Jermaine O'Neal, who sprained
his left knee in Game 4 and had to have it drained Sunday
afternoon. Jamaal Tinsley, playing with an injured left leg, also
struggled throughout.

"We'll see what happens, this series isn't over," O'Neal said.
"We'll see what kind of team we have in the next day or so."

Hamilton, who wears a plastic face mask to protect a nose that
was broken twice this season, shot 12-for-22 from the field and
8-for-8 from the line to thoroughly outplay Miller, his opponent at
shooting guard who called him "Mini-Me" earlier in the series
when describing how Hamilton reminds him of himself.

Indiana was held to just four points in the final 6{ minutes of
the first quarter, which ended with Detroit ahead 25-17. The Pacers
eventually tied it at 33-all before the Hamilton-Miller matchup
began taking center stage.

Miller missed a corner jumper that would have put the Pacers
ahead, then was called for an odd offensive foul for kicking his
leg out while attempting another jumper.

Hamilton scored at the other end, and Miller was livid when he
was called for a touch foul that led to a three-point play. Next,
Miller stepped on the sideline for a turnover, and referee Steve
Javie hit him with a technical foul for arguing as a timeout was
called.

Hamilton scored Detroit's final eight points of the half as the
Pistons led 41-36, then opened the third quarter with Detroit's
first two buckets.

"I love these situations," Hamilton said. "Everybody's
watching, there's four teams playing, you just want to go out there
and have fun.

"Everyone in Detroit's going to be crazy, and we're going to
feed off of that," said Hamilton, the only player in the series
who has been consistently able to get his shot off.

A three-point play by Hamilton gave Detroit its first
double-digit lead, 53-42, and Rasheed Wallace's 3-pointer -- the
first field goal in more than 12 minutes by any Detroit player
except Hamilton -- upped the lead to 15.

Ron Artest then took over the assignment on Hamilton and kept
him quiet, and Indiana started working its way back. A jumper by
Fred Jones with 8:09 left capped a 12-4 run and pulled the Pacers
to 64-59, but Rasheed Wallace made two free throws and Billups hit
a 22-footer to quiet the crowd and put the Pistons back in
command.

Game notes
A video of comedian David Letterman listing the top 10
reasons the Pacers will win was shown on the overhead scoreboard.
Reason No. 4 was: "It's still fun to say Detlef Schrempf." ...
Detroit coach Larry Brown's reaction to Shaquille O'Neal's decision
to sit out the Olympics: "I'm not surprised. He has played in
Olympics before and that's OK. We would have loved to have him, now
we'll look for another guy who wants to play ."