BOSTON - The Detroit Pistons proved that a visiting team can win in Boston. Now they can reach the NBA Finals without having to do it again.
Richard Hamilton bounced back from a poor series opener with 25 points, and the Pistons beat the Celtics, 103-97, last night, evening the Eastern Conference finals at one game apiece and seizing the home-court advantage that has meant everything to the Celtics.
Chauncey Billups had 19 points and seven assists for the Pistons, who will host Game 3 Saturday night. Boston had won 15 straight at home and was 9-0 in the playoffs, but the only number that matters now is 0-6 - the Celtics' playoff road record.
Paul Pierce scored 26 points for the Celtics and Ray Allen broke out of a shooting slump with 25, his best performance in three months. But he was limited to about 291/2 minutes by foul trouble, picking up his fifth foul with 3:09 left in the third quarter after his flurry had given Boston the lead.
Kevin Garnett had 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Celtics, who lost at home for the first time since March 24 against Phoenix. No team has reached the finals without a road victory, and there's no longer a chance for Boston to be the first.
Antonio McDyess scored 15 points, Tayshaun Prince had 14, and Rasheed Wallace and Rodney Stuckey scored 13 for the Pistons, who were rusty in Game 1 but found their groove in the second quarter of this one, shooting 49 percent against the league's best defensive team.
Billups was limited to nine points in Game 1, his first action since straining his right hamstring in Game 3 against Orlando in the second round.
He shed the tights he wore in the opener and came out aggressively, drawing a foul on the first possession and hitting two free throws. He added two free throws later in the first quarter when he appeared to create contact while attempting a three-pointer by kicking the Celtics' Eddie House in the groin.