DETROIT, May 8 (UPI) -- Philadelphia and Detroit each hope one day is enough time to heal an injury to a key player, and Dallas hopes to have remedied its ailing defense.
After having to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the first round, the top-seeded Pistons got their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal series off to a good start Tuesday, when Richard Hamilton scored 25 points and Chauncey Billups added 24 in a 98-87 win over the 76ers.
Billups, who made 7-of-13 shots, left the game early in the fourth quarter with a badly-sprained left ankle after he landed on the foot of 76ers guard Eric Snow.
The 6-3 Billups is averaging 22.8 points per game in the playoffs, just ahead of Hamilton (22.3) for the team lead. If he is unable to play, Chucky Atkins will start in the backcourt with Hamilton.
Detroit received a huge contribution from Mehmet Okur in Game One. The 6-11 rookie native of Turkey averaged just 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds in the first round against Orlando, but scored six of his 16 points in a key fourth-quarter spurt Tuesday.
Snow, a solid defender and perfect complement to superstar Allen Iverson in the backcourt, has been bothered by inflammation and tendinitis in his right foot. He is questionable for Thursday's contest. Aaron McKie most likely will start if Snow is unable to go.
Iverson, who is averaging 33.7 points in the playoffs to lead the NBA, scored 27 points in Game One, but received little help.
Detroit native Derrick Coleman contributed 21 points and eight rebounds, but Philadelphia's other three starts shot a combined 5-of-17.
The Sixers have not lost the first two games in a best-of-seven series since the 2000 conference semifinals, when they were beaten by Indiana, 4-2.
The Mavericks had never lost in seven all-time Game Ones before Tuesday, when Chris Webber scored 13 of his 24 points in the first quarter as the Kings jumped out to an early lead and cruised to a 124-113 victory.
Peja Stojakovic had 26 points and nine rebounds, and Bobby Jackson added 23 points off the bench for Sacramento, which shot a sizzling 55 percent (44-of-80) from the field, and had six players in double figures.
Nowitzki, who had 31 points and 12 rebounds Sunday when Dallas beat the Portland Trail Blazers, was limited to 18 and 11 on Tuesday.
"They scored 130 on us. That's embarrassing," Nowitzki said. "We've just got to guard them a little better."
While Dallas blew a 3-0 lead before beating Portland in the first round, Sacramento cruised past the Utah Jazz in five games. Van Exel admitted the Kings may have been fresher.
"It could have been a lot to it, but at this point in the season you've got to dig deep," Van Exel said. "Because if you go to the finals, that's the end of June. This is early right now. We're still early into the playoffs. Fatigue shouldn't come into factor right now."
While the Mavericks are trying to reach the conference finals for the first time, the Kings are seeking a return trip. Last year in Game Seven, Sacramento blew a late lead and was beaten in overtime at home by the Los Angeles Lakers, who went on to win their third straight NBA championship.