Celtics close in on Finals

From the Associated Press

BOSTON -- Ray Allen found his shooting touch just in time to put the Boston Celtics within one win of the NBA Finals for the first time since the original Big Three.

Allen had 29 points, making a basket after Detroit came within one point with one minute left after trailing by 17 in the third quarter, then he and Kevin Garnett each made a pair of free throws down the stretch as the Celtics beat the Detroit Pistons, 106-102, Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

"We knew the significance of this game," said Garnett, whose 33 points were his most in the playoffs this year. "You don't win this game, you put basically yourself in a corner. . . . They're experienced, and they've been in a lot of pressure situations. Now it's up to us to go up there and try to get one."

Game 6 is Friday in Detroit, and with a victory there or on Sunday back in Boston, the Celtics would advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish took them there in 1987.

Kendrick Perkins had 18 points and 16 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo added seven points, 13 assists, six rebounds and four steals for Boston. The 29 points was also a playoff-high for Allen, the usually reliable scorer who has struggled for most of the playoffs.

"My feeling right now is no different than if I scored 10 points and we won the game. It's a great feeling," Allen said.

Chauncey Billups scored 26 and Richard Hamilton had 25 points for Detroit, which has reached the conference finals six consecutive years but played for the championship only twice and won once in that span.

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