Originally created 05/26/06

Pistons prove resilient again

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The start, story line and result were different.

Tayshaun Prince scored 24 points, Richard Hamilton had 22, and the Detroit Pistons bounced back - as usual - and held on to beat the Miami Heat 92-88 on Thursday night in Game 2, evening the Eastern Conference finals.

Detroit got off to a great start after an awful one in the opener. Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade's supporting cast was lackluster after its outstanding performance.

The Heat made it close with a frantic rally, but the conference finals rematch is now a best-of-five series, with Miami headed home for Game 3 on Saturday night.

Wade had 32 points and seven assists, while O'Neal was dominant with 21 points and 12 rebounds. But they didn't get much help.

Detroit, which led by as much as 14 points in the first half, went ahead 57-39 early in the second half on Hamilton's layup after Chauncey Billups scored his first points on a 3-pointer and a layup.

A 10-2 run pulled Miami within six points midway through the fourth quarter. Rasheed Wallace's 3-pointer gave the Pistons an 81-71 lead with 2:41 left.

While thousands of fans headed home, Miami wasn't ready to concede.

Wade's 3-pointer with 9.8 seconds left made it 90-88, then Billups made two free throws on the ensuing possession and Lindsey Hunter made a steal to seal the victory.

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: Phoenix guard Raja Bell will miss at least Game 2 tonight because of a calf injury that could be severe. Dallas forward Josh Howard has a bone bruise on his left ankle, and coach Avery Johnson said it would be a game-time decision on whether the versatile scorer and defender will be available.

Phoenix's Shawn Marion said his twisted left ankle was sore Thursday, but that he'll definitely play Game 2 tonight.

The Suns lead the series 1-0 after a 121-118 victory Wednesday night.

cavs reward coach: For the first time in recent memory, Cleveland made an off-season coaching move that didn't involve someone being hired or fired.

Mike Brown, who led Cleveland to 50 regular-season wins and the second round of the NBA playoffs in his first year as coach, was rewarded Thursday as the club picked up his $2.5 million contract option.


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