AUBURN HILLS, Mich., May 14 (UPI) -- Chucky Atkins flipped in a running layup in the final second Wednesday night to give the Detroit Pistons a 78-77 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers and a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Detroit won its sixth straight postseason home game, including the last two from Philadelphia with last-second heroics. The Pistons can reach the conference finals for the first time in 13 years with a win Friday night in Philadelphia.
The top-seeded Pistons, however, would have been staring at elimination if not for Atkins. He rescued them with a great shot that foiled a gritty comeback by the 76ers.
Detroit never trailed until the waning moments, when Philadelphia's Eric Snow drained a three-pointer for a 77-76 lead with 9.4 seconds to play.
The Pistons called their final timeout and drew up a play that was disrupted when the 76ers used an extra foul they had on Atkins with 3.7 seconds remaining. Both teams looked disorganized before the ensuing inbounds pass.
Richard Hamilton passed to a cutting Atkins, who had gotten a step on Aaron McKie. He dribbled to the right baseline and lofted a shot that caught the rim, hit the backboard and was about to drop through when it was goaltended by Derrick Coleman with 0.9 seconds left.
With no timeouts, the 76ers were reduced to a 60-footer by Allen Iverson that was not close. For the second time in as many games at The Palace of Auburn Hills, they saw a win slip away in the final seconds.
In Detroit's Game 2 victory, rookie Tayshaun Prince scored the tying basket in the final seconds, then scored seven points in overtime. Prince had a similar basket in this game, giving the Pistons a 76-74 lead with 16 seconds to go.