Indianapolis As the Detroit Pistons walked off the floor, a few dozen fans clad in red, white and blue serenaded them with a chant of "Beat L.A.!"
Forgive those folks for getting ahead of themselves, both with the results of this series and the one in the West. Given the way the Pistons played in Game 5, it's looking quite likely that Detroit will make it to the championship round.
Richard Hamilton scored a career-playoff-high 33 points, 12 of them coming in succession when the Pistons took the lead for good in a 83-65 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night for a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
"Even coming out warming up, there were a lot of fans out there chanting "Go Pistons," Detroit forward Corliss Williamson said. "It's nice to know that we have fans that are faithful enough to follow us here and try to get us that extra edge we need. You really don't expect to see that in someone else's arena."
Many of those fans made the five-hour drive from Michigan, where Game 6 will be played Tuesday night, with the Pistons having the opportunity to clinch the franchise's first trip to the finals since 1990.
"Well, we've still got some unfinished business with these guys," said Darvin Ham, who joked with Rasheed Wallace in the locker room afterward about one of the eight field goals Wallace made.
The basket came midway through the fourth quarter after Indiana had cut an 18-point deficit to five, Wallace taking a pass in the left corner and hitting a tough 16-foot turnaround over Reggie Miller.
"Were you laughing when you shot that?" Ham asked.
"I was laughing before I caught it," Wallace replied. "I had Reggie on me."
Wallace finished with 22 points in another game dominated by defense, and Hamilton did most of his damage in the second and third quarters before hitting a three-pointer that ended all doubt with 1:45 remaining.
Wallace was the only Pistons player besides Hamilton to reach double figures.
"Detroit played their game at a higher level than we were able to play our game," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.
Detroit held the injury-riddled Pacers to 33 percent shooting and won on Indiana's home court for the second time in the series.
Several of the Pistons exchanged high-fives with their fans, who held up signs reading "Bad Boys are Back" and "It's HamilTime."
Indiana got only 11 points from Jermaine O'Neal, who sprained his left knee in Game 4 and had to have it drained Sunday afternoon. Jamaal Tinsley, playing with an injured left leg, also struggled throughout.