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Toronto 94, Detroit 84
Posted: Sunday April 28, 2002 12:58 AM
Detroit Pistons
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TORONTO (Ticker) -- The best playoff game of Antonio Davis' career could not have come at a better time for the Toronto Raptors.

Davis scored 30 points to lead a spirited effort as the Raptors stayed alive with a 94-84 victory over the Detroit Pistons in Game Three of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

"If you look at how many points I scored, then yes, maybe this was my best playoff game," Davis said. "But if we had lost, this would've been the worst."

The seventh-seeded Raptors had lost the first two games in Detroit by a combined 27 points and came home looking to save their season.

"We never wanted to be in this position," Davis said. "I think we understand that we have to show up or we go home. Our effort showed up and it was evident in our performance."

A 10-year veteran, Davis was playing in his 85th playoff game and 13th elimination contest. Relying primarily on mid-range jumpers, the 6-9 forward made 14-of-19 shots as he shattered his previous playoff high of 23 points.

"Antonio was incredible," Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens said. "That was one of the finest games I've seen him play."

"This leadership role and having guys depend on you is new to me," Davis said. "I'm so glad to be surrounded by guys who understand."

Davis has stepped forward as the team leader since the season-ending injury to superstar Vince Carter. His teammates are not surprised.

"I knew he would have a big game because he has been determined to lead us to where a lot of people don't expect us to be," Raptors guard Chris Childs said.

"He's our captain and he has been sticking it out for us the whole year," Toronto forward Jerome Williams said. "We expect him to step up in big games like this. When our backs are against the wall, we look to him to carry us, and he has some strong shoulders."

The Raptors had all five starters in double figures, shot 49 percent (37-of-75), made 19-of-20 free throws and led by as many as 20 points.

On defense, Toronto may have been even better. It held Detroit to 62 shots and caused 23 turnovers while forcing Jerry Stackhouse and Ben Wallace into poor games.

Stackhouse, who scored 31 points in Game Two, was scoreless in the first half and finished with 11 points on 2-of-10 shooting. Wallace, the Defensive Player of the Year, had a quiet seven points and 11 rebounds.

"You have to give credit to the whole team, the way we played defensively," said Raptors swingman Morris Peterson, who had the primary assignment on Stackhouse. "We communicated well on the switches."

Keon Clark scored 18 points and Alvin Williams added 17 for the Raptors, who will try to draw even Monday in Game Four of the best-of-five series. Toronto is 4-1 in elimination games over the last two years.

"Our guys are not going to give up," said Wilkens, whose team went 12-2 in its last 14 games to make the playoffs. "They are going to play hard until the end."

Chucky Atkins scored 21 points and Corliss Williamson added 14 off the bench for the Pistons, who failed in a bid for their first postseason series win in 11 years.

"They were on a different level than us tonight," Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "We've got to match that level or we're going back to Detroit."

Davis scored 12 points in the first quarter as the Raptors bolted to a 26-17 lead. He made 9-of-11 shots in the first half, when Toronto was a sizzling 56 percent (24-of-43). Meanwhile, Stackhouse missed all four of his shots.

"Everything went right from the start," Davis said. "It's about coming out and being prepared and having teammates that need you to go out and produce for them."

"He was awesome," Pistons guard Jon Barry said. "He is a great face-up jump shooter. he got a lot of good looks."

A jumper by Davis just before the buzzer gave Toronto a 51-40 halftime advantage. Williams scored five points in an 11-2 run that opened the third quarter and built the bulge to 62-42 with 8:36 left.

Two baskets by Davis amid three turnovers by the Pistons opened the fourth quarter and gave the Raptors an 83-67 lead.

Cliff Robinson and Jon Barry made 3-pointers to start a 10-0 run that pulled Detroit within six points with 6:25 left. But Williams made two free throws, Peterson had a layup and Davis sank two from the line to rebuild the lead to 89-77 with 5:09 to go. Detroit went scoreless for more than three minutes and got no closer than seven points thereafter.

"We made some key turnovers," Barry said. "We turned the ball over at crucial times."

Childs had his second straight solid game with 12 points and 10 assists for the Raptors. Peterson, who scored just seven points in the first two games, also added 12.

Robinson scored 13 points for the Pistons, who shot 47 percent (29-of-62), including 9-of-19 from the arc.

 


 
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