AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- With his expressionless face sitting
atop sunken shoulders and limp legs, Tracy McGrady stared at the
floor in dismay.
McGrady didn't look up at the scoreboard that showed he again
would be going home after the first round, nor did he gaze at the
fans who taunted him in a raucous, sold-out arena.
The Pistons became just the seventh team in NBA history to
advance after falling behind 3-1 in a series, giving McGrady all
the time he needs to rest his sleepy eyes. For the fourth straight
season, he's done in one.
"Before, I felt like we had to play almost perfect to have a
chance. But this time, we were up 3-1 and it was right there for us
to take,'' said McGrady, who scored 21 points on 7-of-24 shooting.
"We did it with a lot of pride,'' Billups said. "Everybody
kind of gave up on us and thought it was over.''
The Pistons put an end to Orlando's hopes of advancing for the
first time since 1996, when Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway led
the Magic to a first-round sweep of Detroit.
Orlando had its only lead after scoring the game's first basket.
The Pistons made nine of their first 11 shots to take a 20-8
lead midway through the first quarter.
After Orlando pulled to 31-30 early in the second quarter,
Detroit went on a 14-4 run to take command for good. The Magic cut
their deficit to nine early in the third quarter, but the Pistons
turned the game into a rout with a 18-4 burst.
Billups, who scored a career-high 40 in Game 6, made 11 of 19
shots and all 12 of his free throws.
Billups, a free-agent acquisition from Minnesota, and Hamilton,
who Detroit obtained in a trade with Washington for Jerry Stackhouse, have advanced in the playoffs for the first time.
"We can't celebrate too long,'' Billups said.
The Pistons will play Philadelphia in the second round beginning
McGrady, who led the NBA in scoring during the regular season,
has been knocked out of the first round the past three years in
Orlando after it happened during his final season in Toronto.
"To try to put this series on T-Mac would be wrong,'' Orlando
coach Doc Rivers said.
McGrady was cocky and confident after scoring 89 points in Games
1-2, saying he couldn't be contained. But his demeanor was the
complete opposite on Sunday.
"The better team won,'' McGrady said.
McGrady again had difficulty with Prince -- a seldom-used rookie
who averaged just 10 minutes during the regular season and sat out
40 games -- and the NBA's top defense.
"I'm only human,'' McGrady said. "I'm not going to play great
every night. Fatigue is definitely a factor.''
"You can't think that T-Mac is Superman every night,'' Gooden
Prince's insertion into the lineup was one of the most critical
moves in the series made by Detroit coach Rick Carlisle. After not
playing in Game 1, Prince made McGrady's life difficult in Games
2-3 and set a career-high with 15 in Game 5.
Carlisle's predictability and inflexibility were the subject of
criticism in Detroit when it appeared the Pistons were about to be
eliminated. But Carlisle, last year's NBA Coach of the Year,
refused to say he felt vindicated.
"This isn't about me,'' Carlisle said. "This is about the
team. This is a great tribute to what I believe is a true team.''
The Pistons won Game 5 by 31 points, and won the next two by 15
to knock the Magic out in the first round for the third year in a
The Pistons have advanced in the playoffs for consecutive
seasons for the first time since they did it five straight times
McGrady finished fourth in the MVP voting and Wallace, who
received one first-place vote, finished eighth. ... The other teams
that advanced after trailing 3-1 were: Boston (1968), Los Angeles
(1970), Washington (1979), Boston (1981), Houston (1995) and Miami
(1997). ... The Pistons made 54.8 percent of their shots and held
the Magic to 41.8 percent shooting. ... The Pistons are 4-0 when
Anita Baker sings the national anthem.