This loss was a huge shock for the Pistons, who are seeking to reach the Eastern Conference finals for a sixth straight year. Detroit was 21 for 34 overall (61.8%) when Richard Hamilton made a three-pointer 79 seconds into the second half -- and that turned out to be the Pistons' last basket of the third quarter. They didn't make a field goal over the last 10:41 of the period, as Philadelphia steadily added 13 points to its lead, making it 70-55 entering the fourth. A more experienced team than Philly would have built the lead into the mid-20s; nonetheless, the difference between the visitors and their hosts in terms of energy, athleticism and ambition was staggering.
Tayshaun Prince (8-of-9 for 18 points) and Hamilton (23 points on 18 shots) were Detroit's only sure things offensively, and Hamilton missed five minutes of the decisive third quarter with foul trouble.
No. 7 seed Philadelphia leads the series 2-1 despite the ongoing struggles of star Andre Iguodala (right), who is 11-of-30 from the field with 12 turnovers, offsetting his 18 assists. "Andre's going to be fine," said 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks. "We're going to keep putting the ball in his hands."
This was the Pistons' sloppiest game of the year, by far. They led the league in fewest turnovers with 11.66 per game while never committing more than 18 this season; on Saturday, they suffered their 19th turnover with 15:32 remaining. They finished with 25 turnovers, leading to 29 Philadelphia points. "They put pressure on us and we turned the ball over," said Detroit coach Flip Saunders. That carelessness created pressure on the Pistons to be efficient with their shooting, which in turn, contributed to their 8-for-35 (22.9 percent) performance in the second half. They missed numerous open jumpers. "When you're losing shot opportunities, those shots become bigger shots because you're not getting as many," said Saunders. "I've got to do a better job to get our guys better shots . Evidently, we didn't put them in a situation where they felt comfortable and they could be successful."
Pistons power forward Antonio McDyess suffered a broken nose and may not be available for Game 4 Sunday in Philadelphia. "He's one of our high-energy guys," said Prince, which is bad news for a team that was outworked and outrun throughout Game 3. "Our guys -- [backup forward Jason] Maxiell -- have to be ready in case 'Dyess doesn't play. Everybody has got to be ready to play ... We've allowed ourselves to get in this position as far as not matching their energy in every game."
Rasheed Wallace had two points, five rebounds and four turnovers in 34 minutes and was thoroughly outplayed by 76ers center Samuel Dalembert, who went for 22 points and 16 rebounds after shooting 18.8 percent in the first two games. A similar mismatch emerged at point guard, where Chauncey Billups gave Detroit 11 points (2-for-11) with four assists and three turnovers while being exploited by Andre Miller (21 points, 3 assists) while providing firm leadership and consistently pushing the ball.
Detroit looked old and confused against the 76ers' relentless pressure, but don't expect the Pistons to suffer another blowout Sunday. It would be no surprise to see them control tempo and reclaim homecourt advantage heading back to Detroit for Game 5. The real question raised by this loss is whether the Pistons are capable of making a run at the NBA Finals. Is it not too late to regain their edge, or does this humiliating rout signal a third straight underperforming postseason followed by another summer of wondering what went wrong?
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