Injury won't sideline banged-up Billups during East finals

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Chauncey Billups probably isn't going to be healthy during the Eastern Conference finals.

Billups refuses, though, to let his sore right hamstring keep him off the court or be an excuse for him and the Detroit Pistons against the Boston Celtics.

"Hurt or not, I still have to play better and fight through it," Billups said Sunday.

The All-Star point guard was 1-for-6 for six points with four assists and two turnovers in the Celtics' 94-80 win Saturday night that gave them a 2-1 lead in the series.

Billups missed two-plus games in the second round against the Orlando Magic after straining his right hamstring and he aggravated the injury when Detroit won Game 2 at Boston.

Backup point guard Rodney Stuckey is averaging 13 points against the Celtics, trailing only Richard Hamilton in scoring for the Pistons, but Billups doesn't believe the team is better off playing the rookie instead of him.

"At this juncture of the season, you can't sit out," Billups said. "I'm one of the main leaders of the team. We've got a young guy, Stuckey, who is playing great and we've got to find ways to keep him playing well.

"But I know I have to play good for us to win."

The Pistons will host Game 4 on Monday night and coach Flip Saunders is hoping for the best when he puts Billups on the court.

"It's one of those things, you're playing him and trying to get him going because you know what he can do," Saunders said. "He wants to play, there's no question."