Celtics slip past Pistons in inept night of offense

Saturday, May 11, 2002

BOSTON -- A game in which neither team could score was decided on a shot that didn't count.

In the lowest-scoring playoff game in NBA history, Paul Pierce had 19 points to lead the Boston Celtics past the Detroit Pistons 66-64 Friday night for a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal.

Pierce hit two free throws with 5.9 seconds left to give Boston a 66-62 lead. But Kenny Anderson fouled Chucky Atkins while he was shooting a harmless 3-pointer; Atkins hit two free throws and missed the third on purpose.

The rebound bounced high off the floor, and Jerry Stackhouse grabbed it and banked in a 3-pointer. The referees waved the shot off as the ball was in the air, and replays confirmed it was still in Stackhouse's hands as the red light went off behind the basket.

The 130 combined points was far below the previous NBA playoff record of 142 registered three times, the last in 1999.

"It was ugly. It was a grind-it-out, tough-it-out game," said Pierce, who scored six points in the final 1:48. "We escaped by the hairs of our chinny chin chins."

Antoine Walker had 16 points and eight rebounds, hitting a layup on a pass from Pierce to give the Celtics a 58-56 lead with 2:33 left. Pierce followed with a layup to make it a four-point game.

Ben Wallace, who had 21 rebounds and 12 points, dunked at the other end, then Anderson hit two free throws to give Boston a 64-60 lead. Anderson had eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Each team hit just 35 percent of their shots. They were worse than that from 3-point range, shooting a combined 4-for-39.

Elswhere

  • HORNETS: NBA owners approved the Hornets' move to New Orleans, assuring that the team's 14-year era in Charlotte will end when its season does.

    Representatives from the league's 29 ownership groups voted on a conference call and approved the relocation, which had been recommended 10 days ago by a seven-owner committee and was endorsed by commissioner David Stern.

    After a referendum to finance a new arena was defeated last year, the Hornets' owners said they needed to move to avoid millions of dollars in annual losses, in part from drastically declining attendance.

    Playing before a half-empty Charlotte Coliseum on Thursday night, the Hornets beat the New Jersey Nets 115-97 in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal. The Nets lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.

    It is the second time in two years that an NBA franchise has been allowed to change cities. Last summer, the Grizzlies moved from Vancouver to Memphis.

    Before that, the NBA had gone 16 years without a team changing cities.

    The Hornets will begin playing at the New Orleans Arena next season.

    New Orleans has tried to attract an NBA team since the Jazz left for Utah in 1979. After missing out on the Timberwolves in 1994 and the Grizzlies last year, the city and state went all out to land the Hornets.

    Business leaders spearheaded an effort to sell season tickets and suites, eventually exceeding the league's guideline of 2,400 club seats, which require a 3-to-5-year agreement. Fifty-five suites were also sold on the same basis.

    Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster last month signed a bill that would give the sports franchise $1.75 million in state cash to cover the costs of moving expenses.

    -- From wire reports

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