Billups scored 13 fourth-quarter points -- including a critical
3-pointer and six straight free throws down the stretch -- as the
Detroit Pistons beat the Milwaukee Bucks 109-99 to take a 3-1 lead
in the first round of the NBA playoffs Monday night.
"For me, after chasing him around the court, I wanted to make
him play defense, too," said Billups, who scored 34 points and was
16-for-16 from the free throw line.
Ford scored 16 third-quarter points as the Bucks took a 76-74
lead into the fourth quarter. Billups called him a "tough cover."
But the Bucks' enigmatic point guard also had six turnovers --
equaling the output of the entire Pistons team -- and struggled to
Michael Redd said Ford didn't get enough defensive help from his
"T.J.'s smaller than him, so he tried to take advantage of
that," said Redd, who led the Bucks with 33 points.
Although the Bucks stayed close enough Monday night to make
evening the series seem like a real possibility, the Pistons now
can finish off the Bucks with a victory in Game 5 Wednesday night
"There's no question it helps when you've been there," Pistons
coach Flip Saunders said. "That's one of the reasons we didn't
take many bad shots in the fourth quarter. We took some bad ones in
the third, but when it came down to crunch time we moved the ball,
got some open looks, got mismatches, got to the free throw line and
did the things you need to do offensively."
Ford said the Pistons' experience came through when it counted.
"I think they know how to play with each other," Ford said.
"They read each other. The big thing is with them, it doesn't
matter who takes that shot."
Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter praised Billups' poise.
"We're always comfortable when Chauncey has the ball in his
hands in any situation," Hunter said. "He's played in those
The same can't be said for the ultra-quick but inconsistent
Ford, who can unleash a thrilling drive to the basket on one
possession, then throw a pass out of bounds the next time down the
"That's what hurt us," Ford said. "We've got to protect the
ball, go watch film and make adjustments."
The Bucks had taken an 86-85 lead on Joe Smith's jump shot with
5:52 remaining in the game. But the Pistons answered with an 8-0
run, including back-to-back 3-pointers by Billups and Richard
Hamilton, to put Detroit ahead 93-86 with 3:47 remaining.
The Pistons led 95-90 when Antonio McDyess was whistled for a
technical foul -- Detroit's second technical of the game -- with 2:42
Redd thought it could have been a turning point.
"We've made a living on coming back on teams this season, so
I'm thinking, 'Here we go again,"' Redd said.
Redd made the free throw and was fouled on the ensuing
possession, hitting another two free throws to cut the Pistons'
lead to 95-93 with 2:29 remaining.
"They fought," Billups said. "I give them a lot of credit. We
had to grind it out."
Billups' free throws, combined with missed shots and mishandled
balls by the Bucks, allowed the Pistons to put away the game.
Milwaukee committed 16 turnovers.
"Two areas that were our biggest concerns going into the series
were the free throw line and turnovers," Bucks coach Terry Stotts
said. "This is the first game of the series where the turnover
differential was substantial."
The Pistons led by as many as 15 in the first half, but the
Bucks made a run as Rasheed Wallace was whistled for a technical
foul, his second of the postseason, after complaining about a foul
call in the second quarter.
Wallace led the league in technical fouls with 19 in the regular season. He also was called for a technical in Game 1. ... Hamilton was fined $15,000 by the NBA on Monday for elbowing Redd in the mouth during Saturday's game. The league upgraded the flagrant foul from a penalty one to a more severe level two. "Hopefully, I can talk to someone," Hamilton said. "$15,000? I
don't understand that one." ... The Bucks had nine turnovers in the first half, including five by Ford.