It wasn't what the Detroit Pistons expected.
"We wanted to avoid Game 5," Detroit's James Edwards said Thursday night after the Atlanta Hawks posted a 123-111 victory that evened the best-of-5 first-round series 2-2.That forced a decisive game the Pistons must win to keep alive their bid for a third consecutive NBA championship.
"Anything can happen in one night," Edwards said. "Now we have to take care of business at home."
The series moves back to The Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., on Sunday, with the winner advancing to a best-of-seven second-round series against the winner of the Indiana-Boston series. Boston leads 2-1.
The Pistons had erased a 17-point first-half deficit Tuesday night in the third game. They overcame a 13-point first-quarter deficit to lead Thursday night, but they couldn't stop 33-year-old Sidney Moncrief down the stretch.
Moncrief scored 12 of his 23 points in the final five minutes, and Glenn Rivers scored 34 for the game as the Hawks posted the second-highest total on the Pistons this season.
"We played decent, but Atlanta decided to play," Detroit's Dennis Rodman said. "They just killed us on the offensive boards."
The Hawks hit 44 of 51 free throws, Detroit only 14 of 22, and they had a 51-42 edge in rebounding. Dominique Wilkins added 24 points for the Hawks, who took the lead for good with 59 seconds left in the third quarter when John Battle hit one of two free throws to break an 80-80 tie.