Pistons top Magic, 91-86

The Baltimore Sun

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons made just enough shots and stops to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for a sixth straight year.

Richard Hamilton scored 19 of his 31 points in the first half and made victory-sealing free throws late in the game, and Tayshaun Prince had a key block, helping Detroit hold off the Orlando Magic for a 91-86 win last night in Game 5 of the second-round series.

"Playing in six straight is awesome, but now we expect to do this," Hamilton said. "We're supposed to be here."

The Pistons will have a break before facing the Boston Celtics or Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference finals.

Detroit made just 36 percent of its shots and allowed the Magic to make nearly half of its attempts but made up for the disparity at the line and by taking care of the ball. The Pistons were 28-for-32 at the line and had just three turnovers - setting an NBA playoff record for the fewest giveaways in a game - while Orlando was 16-for-28 and had a playoff-high 21 turnovers, which turned into 34 points for Detroit.

"The fact that the game is close at the end when you look at the free throw shooting and turnover disparity is remarkable," Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said.

To the Magic's credit, it didn't go away easily against a playoff-tested team that improved to 15-3 when it has a chance to advance since 2003.

Detroit led by 10 late but was ahead 85-84 with just under a minute left after Hedo Turkoglu made back-to-back shots. The Pistons won when Hamilton made two key free throws, Prince blocked Turkoglu's dunk attempt, and Hamilton made two more at the line in the last 20 seconds of the game.

Playing without All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups for the second straight game because of a strained hamstring, the Pistons looked to rookie Rodney Stuckey, who filled the void with 15 points, six assists and no turnovers.

"I'm never scared," Stuckey said.

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