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Hamilton nets 40 as Pistons oust Bucks from playoffs

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Richard Hamilton played like he
desperately wanted a break.

The guard with the face mask had a playoff-career high 40 points
Wednesday night and the Detroit Pistons tied a franchise-playoff
scoring record in the first quarter in a 122-93 victory over the
Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5.

Rasheed Wallace scored 22 points and keyed an 18-2 run after
halftime for the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions,
who won the best-of-seven series and advanced to the second round
of the playoffs.

Detroit will play the winner of the Cleveland-Washington series.
The Pistons will take a day off and have at least a couple of
practices before resuming their goal of winning a second title in
three years.

"We really wanted to take care of business at home," Hamilton
said. "It was important for us to get some rest, and watch the
other teams beat each other up."

Hamilton was determined to find his rhythm against Milwaukee
after being held to 16.8 points -- more than four below his career
playoff average -- on 34.5 percent shooting while playing with a
sprained ankle and thigh bruise.

Detroit's strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander told
Hamilton that he wasn't going to put a pad on his leg or extra tape
on his ankle.

"He didn't want me restrained," Hamilton said. "That gave me
all kinds of confidence to do what I usually do."

Michael Redd of the Bucks scored just two points while Detroit
pulled away with a dominating opening quarter in which they scored
39 points. Redd finished with 23.

"In the second quarter, when we were dead in the water, he did
everything he could," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said.

Detroit coach Flip Saunders, in his first season with the
Pistons, said before the game he would take advantage of any and
all mismatches against Milwaukee.

Saunders had a lot of choices.

The Pistons clearly made an effort to get Hamilton involved
early -- as T.J. Ford attempted to defend him -- and the shooting
guard responded.

When the Bucks left Ford alone on Hamilton, he simply rose over
the shorter guard for open jumpers. When Milwaukee tried to give
Ford help, Hamilton found open teammates and they made shots.

Wallace made a 3-pointer -- off Hamilton's assist -- to put the
Pistons ahead for good midway through the first quarter. Those
points were the first of 11 straight for Detroit, and sparked a
21-2 run that provided a cushion large enough to let the Pistons
coast to the victory.

Hamilton had 15 points in the first quarter, putting the Pistons
ahead 39-23.

Detroit had four starters with at least 11 points in the first
half while Redd was the only Buck in double figures at halftime as
they trailed 62-49.

Hamilton scored the first basket of the second half -- giving him
26 points -- and after a Milwaukee basket, Wallace made three
straight 3-pointers during a burst that put the Pistons ahead 80-51
midway through the third quarter.

Hamilton had 40 points entering the fourth, and Milwaukee's
starters combined for 51 as the Pistons led 97-66.

Chauncey Billups had 17 points and eight assists and Tayshaun
Prince added 12 points for the Pistons to help them finish with
their highest total in the playoffs since scoring 145 against
Boston in the 1987.

"Offensively, they've gotten better, there's no doubt," Redd
said. "They're pushing it more than in the past three or four
years, when they were more of a half-court style team. Now, they
make you pay for mistakes.

"But their defense is going to win a championship for them."

Milwaukee's Jamaal Magloire had eight points and reserve Toni
Kukoc added seven in the first quarter, but both were held
scoreless the rest of the game. Andrew Bogut, the No. 1 pick in
last year's draft, scored 10 points and Ford had 10 points and six
assists. Bucks reserve Dan Gadzuric had 13 points in nine minutes
before leaving the game with a sprained right ankle.

The Bucks were the only sub-.500 team in the playoffs, and Redd
was their only starter with postseason experience before the quick
series against Detroit.

"We're one of the youngest teams in the league," Stotts said.
"This was a good experience for a lot of our guys."

The Pistons begin games with the same five players they did in
2004 when they beat the Bucks in the first round en route to the
third championship in franchise history, and have had four of the
same starters for four straight postseasons.

When Detroit has had a chance to win a series, it has won 10 of
its last 11 games. The only loss came last year at San Antonio in
Game 7 of the NBA Finals, a game that has motivated the Pistons for
10-plus months.

"We don't celebrate getting to the first round, or getting past
the first round," reserve guard Lindsey Hunter said. "It's
nothing to really celebrate. We know what our goal is."

Game notes
Hamilton's previous playoff high was 33 points, a total he
reached twice. ... He joined Billups, Isiah Thomas, Kelly Tripucka
and Dave Bing as the only Pistons with 40 points in a postseason
game. ... Detroit previously scored 39 points in the first quarter
of playoff games in 1985 against New Jersey and 1979 against Golden
State.