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, tying 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 host Game 3 tomorrow.
"The atmosphere's going to be crazy," Hamilton said. "We're geeked about getting back to our home court. The fans are excited, and now it's our job to take care of home court."
Paul Pierce scored 26 points for the Celtics, who had won 15 straight at home and gone 9-0 in the playoffs. But the only number that matters now is 0-6 - their playoff road record.
"We have no choice now but to get it done on the road," Pierce said.
Ray Allen broke out of a shooting slump with 25, his best performance in three months. But he was limited to about 29 1/2 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, Tayshaun Prince had 14, and Rasheed Wallace and Rodney Stuckey scored 13 for Detroit. *