Pistons move past crushed 76ers

PHILADELPHIA --- Richard Hamilton hit his first five shots during Detroit's overpowering start, and the Pistons rolled into the second round of the playoffs by crushing the Philadelphia 76ers 100-77 on Thursday night to win the series 4-2.


The Pistons convincingly won the last two games of a series that wasn't expected to last this long and will play host to the Orlando Magic, who eliminated Toronto in five games, on Saturday in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Detroit split four meetings with the Southeast Division champions this season.

Hamilton finished with 24 points, 13 in the decisive first quarter when he outscored the 76ers by himself. Chauncey Billups added 20 and Tayshaun Prince had 12 for the Pistons, who reached the second round for the seventh season in a row.

They were all on the bench for nearly the entire fourth quarter, when the lead ballooned to more than 30 points. Detroit held Philadelphia without a field goal for nearly the first six minutes of the game.

HAWKS: Back home Thursday, the Hawks were feeling a lot more comfortable as they watched film and practiced at Philips Arena.

"We're very confident," said guard Joe Johnson , who is averaging 21.8 points in the series. "We're 2-0 at home. We've been playing some pretty good basketball here. We've just got to continue that."

But those hopeful words come with a mighty big caveat: Even if Atlanta beats the Celtics in Game 6 tonight, the series would be decided in Boston. And the Hawks haven't come close to a Beantown upset.

The Celtics romped to their third consecutive blowout at home Wednesday, winning Game 5 110-85 and reclaiming the upper hand in the best-of-seven series.

"It doesn't take any edge away," Johnson said about playing for a return trip to Boston. "We feel like if we have three or four tries up there, we should at least be able to get one. That's what we're banking on right now."



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