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Archive: The Finals Blog from L.A., Games 1-2
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Inside the Celebration
Posted by Randy Kim (NBA.com) on June 16 2004, 3:02 a.m. ET


'Sheed and Ben played host to Kid after Tuesday's Game 5 win.
(From L-R: Garrett Ellwood, Nathaniel Butler, Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE/Getty Images)

Only in Detroit would you find Kid Rock spraying champagne on Ben Wallace while Rasheed Wallace hollered out quotes from a Will Ferrell film.

Such was the scene deep in the Palace shortly after the Pistons' Game 5, Finals-clinching victory, as the jubilation that was seen on the floor shortly after Detroit's runaway win carried over to the home team's locker room. Highlights of the postgame celebration included:

- Rasheed repeatedly yelling, "You're my boy, Blue!" a quote from the movie "Old School."

- Kid Rock answering "Oh, that was too easy" when asked what he thought of the Palace staff cutting between clips of Kid (met with wild applause) and Jack Nicholson (hearty boos) on the arena Jumbotron.

- Hank Williams Jr. calling the series "total domination."

- Elden Campbell trying to usher the media out the door, so the team could "start the party."

- Numerous players singing J-Kwon's hit "Tipsy."

- Lindsey Hunter asking the media, "Who else do we need to beat?"

- Rasheed answering "When the clock read zero" when asked when he knew he had won a title.

Simply put, it was a spirited, if not unconventional, celebration for a team that broke the mold in winning the title.


Congratulations, Detroit
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 11:47 p.m. ET


Ben Wallace and the Pistons are all alone atop the basketball world. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

You deserve it.

Kobe Sits
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 11:43 p.m. ET

With 1:59 left in the NBA season, Kobe Bryant took a seat on the Lakers bench. Is this the last time we see Kobe in a Lakers uniform?

Celebrate With Dignity
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 11:39 p.m. ET

During the last timeout, with 2:56 left in the NBA season, the Pistons ran a "Celebrate With Dignity" ad on the video board.

Shaq's Out, Lakers Too
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 11:33 p.m. ET

Shaq is on the bench with 4:55 to go in the game. Now, it's not a matter of if, but when for the Pistons.

The next question is: When is Larry Brown going to empty his bench and bring his starters out to thunderous cheers?

Chants Encounter
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 11:30 p.m. ET

Pistons fans started chanting "Na-na-na, Na-na-na, Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye" with 8:30 left in the fourth quarter.

The "We Want Darko" chant started with six minutes remianing in the Lakers' season.

And while every Piston is feeling it right now, no one has been more dominant in this game than Ben Wallace. His follow up dunk with 7:27 left in the fourth gave him 21 boards, 10 of which have been offensive, and 18 points.

Smelling Blood
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 11:15 p.m. ET

Nothing epitomized the Pistons dominance in this series than Tayshaun Prince's coast-to-coast layup with 4.8 seconds remaining in the third quarter. He went untouched as the Lakers watched him go through the lane. Maybe they're in awe of the Pistons, too.

But the Pistons smell blood and Lindsey Hunter just stole a pass and raced for a layup to start the fourth quarter. The sharks are circling and with a lead that's hovering around two dozen points, it's easy to see why.

Blessed
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 11:05 p.m. ET

Oh. My. God. The Pistons can do no wrong, it seems. Chauncey Billups' acrobatic "and-one" with 3:43 in the third set this place on its ear.

And now, Devean George just picked up a technical foul with 2:36 left in the third. Could the Lakers be unraveling?

Now, Elden Campbell hits a 20-footer as the shot clock's running down? Are you kidding me?

And why, oh why is Gary Payton jawing with Richard Hamilton? With two points, Payton should only be talking to himself.

Sheed's Foul Trouble
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 10:48 p.m. ET

Rasheed Wallace picked up his fourth foul with 7:05 left in the third. He left and Elden Campbell replaced him. Campbell immediately had a follow up dunk. These Pistons are unceasing.

Lakers superfan Jack Nicholson is in the house. He was roundly booed when shown on the video board. The video director then swtiched between Kid Rock and Nicholson. Kid Rock, cheered. Nicholson, booed. Jack showed he could handle the boos when he asked for the Palace faithful to go louder.

Halfway Home?
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 10:30 p.m. ET


The Pistons had plenty to cheer in the first half. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

With 24 minutes remaining in Game 5, the Pistons have a 55-45 lead and are shooting .606 from the field. When's the last time the Pistons had 55 points at halftime? It's been a while. And it seems the Pistons have an answer for everything the Lakers throw at them. They've scored two buckets out of timeouts. Yes, Larry Brown and his charges are firing on all cylinders.

With 10 points, Slava Medvedenko is the first Laker besides Kobe or Shaq who has reached double figures in this series. Shaq only has seven points and the Pistons have outscored the Lakers 28-18 in the paint. The Lakers can't expect to pull the game out that way.

As for the Pistons, I've almost run out of things to say. They've been superlative in almost every facet of the game. As for the Lakers, well, the things you want to say about them, you can't say in a family blog.

With that being said, we head to the second half.

Too Much?
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 10:10 p.m. ET

At times, it appears that the Pistons are too fast, too strong and too determined for the Lakers.

Or as a friend IMed me during the game: "Since when did the '04 Pistons become Showtime?"

For one game only, I replied. And that may be all they need.

Another bad sign for the Lakers: Ben Wallace and Mehmet Okur just hit jumpers for the Pistons and Shaq just picked up his third foul with 3:30 left in the second quarter.

House Call
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 9:58 p.m. ET

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But, this is one doctor we want to see: Dr. J.

We caught up with the Hall of Famer before Game 5 and he answered your e-mail questions. Here's one we liked enough to highlight.

Q: If you were playing today, who would you most enjoy the challenge of matching up against?

Dr. J: “The guys who are the prime-time scorers – Tracy McGrady, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant. Those guys, they’re tall, thin, they like to shoot the ball, they like to score. I’d stay away from the Karl Malones and the Shaquille O’Neals, they seem like they’re guys w o could hurt you and since I only played at 212, it would be fun playing against those other three."

Stay away from Shaq and Malone. Doc's a smart man.

Foul Mood Again
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 9:50 p.m. ET

Well, some things are back to normal. The Lakers are in foul trouble again and the Pistons have a distinct advantage at the line. They've taken 10 free throws to the Lakers' two.

Uh oh, bad news for Pistons fans. Rasheed just went out with his second foul. You won't see him until the second half. Now, the Pistons have three team fouls at 10:44 of the second quarter.

No Mail Today
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 9:20 p.m. ET


Because of a knee injury, the Mailman can't work his route in Game 5. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images/NBAE)

Karl Malone is in street clothes and Slava Medvedenko already has the Lakers first six points of the game. This will not be a normal evening.

Get it Started
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 9:10 p.m. ET

I am interested in how both teams will start the game. Will the Pistons show nerves? Will the Lakers be loose? What's going through Larry Brown's mind right now?

We'll see.

Loud and Proud
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 9 p.m. ET

What? I can't hear you.

We have a few words to describe the scene at The Palace: Certifiably insane. The din when the Pistons took the court 18 minutes before tipoff overwhelmed the senses. Even as I write this with 10:45 before tipoff, everyone has taken their seat, the Thunderstix have not stopped and the occasional "Beat L.A." chant works its way around the upper bowl where we're seated.

Around the court, it was a zoo, with media and cameras everywhere. We paused to talk to ABC analyst and Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Inside Stuff host Summer Sanders. Their answers to our "Three Burning Questions" in Rbk's Ten Cool Things.

Aretha Franklin will sign the national anthem tonight, and The Temptations were spotted in the hallway beneath the stands.

We'll blog back in a moment.

The Doctor Is In!
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 15 2004, 6:45 p.m. ET


Dr. J lifted the NBA to new heights. (Walter Iooss Jr./NBAE/Getty Images)

Fans of The Finals, we have a good Doctor making a blog call this evening.

The inimitable Julius Erving, Dr. J, will be joining The Finals Blog this evening. Send Dr. J an e-mail and we'll get answers to your best questions. Dr. J has created many Finals memories, including the one at No. 7 here. Play the video, you'll be awed.

Personally, I think it's the greatest move in NBA history, but hey, that's just me. I had never seen anyone do it before the Doctor and I haven't seen anyone do it since.

As far as The Finals themselves, could this be the night? Could it be the night Kobe passes Shaq the ball? If it is, we could be headed to Los Angeles. If the they continue to throw Shaq the ball as often as I have a good blog entry, the Lakers will have a long evening and an even longer summer.

That being said, we're gonna head courtside to get some stuff for the blog and for Rbk's 10 Cool Things at The Finals.

Superman Takes on Super Fan
Posted by Randy Kim (NBA.com) on June 14 2004, 5:12 p.m. ET


Shaq couldn't bite his tongue after seeing the super fan in short pants on Monday. (NBA.com)

If Shaq is feeling the pressure of being down 3-1 to the Pistons, he certainly isn't showing it.

Ever the consummate showman, especially when seated behind a microphone, O'Neal once again turned his off-day media availability into an impromptu stand-up routine.

While he was being peppered with questions about why his teammates weren't stepping up and why he didn't see the ball more after going 16-for-21 from the field in Game 4 (about which O'Neal hilariously deadpanned, "If you don't stick with simplicity, you'll die a horrible death"), Shaq couldn't help but steer the presser away from the game and toward a familiar face in one of the front rows.

"This is the first time I've ever seen you in shorts," Shaq said to an older man with long, wild hair. "That's funny ... That's funny."

The bare-legged target of Shaq's barbs was none other than super fan James Goldstein. Goldstein is well known in NBA circles as the devoted, eccentric L.A.-based fan who attends nearly every Finals game, whether his hometown Lakers are in it or not.

After Shaq's first comments about Goldstein's casual attire, the writers tried to steer things back toward more serious matters, namely the Pistons-Lakers series. Shaq wasn't having any of it, though, as he was throughly occupied with super fan.

"If we win tomorrow, are you going to cut your hair and wear a nice, classy suit?" he asked Goldstein. "You scared? Are you scared to make that bet?"

Shaq's cut-ups had the assembled media in stitches. The presser then continued normally for a stretch, but as things wound down and Shaq was handed his last question of the day (about Kobe's guarantee of winning Game 5) O'Neal couldn't help but go back to Goldstein.

"Gotta win. Gotta win," said Shaq. "And I'm gonna cut your hair myself."

Shaq then made a cutting motion towards Goldstein, and then walked off the stage to much laughter.

Just another Finals for the NBA's most dominant comedian. Whether or not he's here at The Finals all week remains to be seen.


Party of Five
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 14 2004, 2:30 a.m. ET


Rasheed's Pistons have one more win to go. (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

When we left the Palace, we asked you to hold that thought.

In the case of this blog, we held our thoughts. Five of them to be exact as to why the Pistons have the upper hand -- and a 3-1 lead -- on the Lakers.

Speed
Plain and simple, the Pistons have more team speed than the Lakers. Ben Wallace moves better than Shaquille O'Neal. Gary Payton can't catch up with Chauncey Billups. Karl Malone and his balky knee can't stay with anyone.

The Game 4 numbers bear this out. The Pistons scored 21 fastbreak points to the Lakers five. No sequence showed the difference between the two teams better than the end of the second quarter when the Pistons scored their final six points on Tayshaun Prince driving layup, a Ben Wallace finger roll and a Mike James lay up that Kobe Bryant goaltended. Easy buckets, all.

Health
In the Western Conference finals, the Lakers raced past a wounded Timberwolves team.

In The Finals, the Pistons have give the Lakers a taste of their own medicine. Detroit has exploited an injured Karl Malone. Not having the 18-year veteran is hurting the Lakers as much as Malone's knee is hurting him. Even on a gimpy knee, Malone grabbed five boards in 21 minutes. But Malone has only played 39 minutes combined in Games 3 and 4. He played 39 minutes in the Lakers' only win in the series.

Not having Malone has hurt the Lakers on defense as well. After helping slow Tim Duncan in the West semis and Kevin Garnett in the West finals, Malone hasn't been able to be as aggressive on defense in this series. And while they were able to weather Malone's limited mobility in Game 3, the Lakers were hurt by in Game 4 as Rasheed Wallace went off for 26 points against Slava Medvedenko and Luke Walton.

More Aggressive
Throughout the series, the Pistons have been more aggressive on both ends of the floor. They've dictated tempo with the ball and they've thrown the Lakers out of their rhythm when they don't. They've pushed the Lakers and the Lakers have tried to push back. The Pistons, however, have shown in the first four games, they won't cede an inch.

More Cohesive
When you see the Pistons play, you feel that they're playing like a team. Everyone seems in sync, so much so that Detroit can win although they shot .426 in Game 4.

When you watch the Lakers play, you feel that it's Shaq and Kobe and no one else. Malone, Gary Payton, Derek Fisher, you name them, haven't been on point in The Finals. Luke Walton, who had six fouls and no points in 12 minutes in Game 4, had his one shining moment in Game 2.

The disconnect appears to be the greatest between the Lakers' two superstars -- Shaq and Kobe. Shaq slammed home an alley oop to bring the Lakers within eight at the 3:40 mark of the fourth quarter. Shaq's name does not appear again in the official play-by-play for an offensive play until he grabbed an offensive board with 9.2 seconds left in the game. For three minutes and 30 seconds, a 7-2, 360-pound man disappeared from plain view.

In the same time frame, Bryant was 1-for-3 from the field, hit two free throws and turned the ball over. Kobe took four more shots than Shaq, but made eight fewer. All of which, brings us to this...

The Pistons Play Smarter
When your big man goes 16-for-21, feed him the ball until he pukes. Feed it to him until Bill Laimbeer and Bob Lanier foul out. Feed it to him until the final buzzer.

But that didn't happen. It's hard to say a guy didn't get to shoot enough when he got 21 shots, but with Shaq in Game 4, that was the case.

On the other hand, when Rasheed Wallace was hot, the Pistons went to him. When he went cold, the Pistons fell back to their safety net -- the backcourt. They ran the break when they had numbers and they were patient in the halfcourt offense. The Pistons made each situation work for them.

But the Lakers can't seem to get their heads together. When asked why he was shooting so poorly and what he could do to improve it, Kobe remained steadfast.

"I just gotta shoot through it."

Famous last words.

Pistons One Win Away
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 14 2004, 12:55 a.m. ET

As he left the floor amid the thunderous Palace din with 9.2 seconds remaining, Rasheed Wallace passed Lindsey Hunter and pointed to the huge decal of the Larry O'Brien Trophy on the floor as if to say, "That's ours."

You couldn't blame Sheed for making that point. After an 88-80 win in Game 4 to give them a 3-1 Finals lead, the Pistons are one game away from bringing the franchise's third Larry O'Brien Trophy back to the Palace.

And if it seems that the Pistons are poised to get their calloused mitts on the NBA's holy grail, it's because they have a historically insurmountable 3-1 lead. No Finals team has ever rebounded from such a deficit and it will take more than a superhuman effort from the Lakers' Superman, Shaquille O'Neal.

Again, O'Neal played brilliantly for the Lakers, scoring 36 points and grabbing 20 rebounds, but it almost seemed the Lakers recognized that their Daddy knew best, they had trouble seeking out his counsel. While Shaq shot 16-for-21, the rest of the Lakers went 17-for-56 (.304) from the field.

The Pistons caused most of that poor marksmanship, of course making this victory a prototypical Pistons' win -- suffocating team defense, excellent guard play and all out hustle. And on a team that's been called starless, Rasheed Wallace emerged as Detroit's star on this night. 'Sheed scored 26 points, include 17 huge ones in the second half to help the Pistons pull away in the fourth quarter. In the Pistons' incredible run to the Finals, Sheed has more than shored up Detroit's D, but he finally shined bright on offense -- and it was the difference in this game.

We need to exit the arena. We'll be back in a bit to blog about why the Pistons have been able to dominate the Lakers.

Two Good
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 13 2004, 11:42 p.m. ET

The play which Detroit ran to go up 73-67 with five minutes left in regulation was a thing of beauty. Rip Hamilton coming off a curl, Billups finding him, Kobe racing back to help on Rip, Hamilton finding Billups open at the top of the key for three. Coaches and players dream about those plays.

No More Diesel?
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 13 2004, 11:30 p.m. ET

During Devean George's two missed free throws, Shaq was standing at halfcourt, grabbing his shorts, obviously tired. He did muster enough energy to score his 29th point with 6:34 left in the fourth.

Keep Yer Hands Off!
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 13 2004, 10:55 p.m. ET


Shaq had his way with the Pistons in the first half. (Elsa/Getty Images/NBAE)

One question: How are the Pistons winning this game? How?

I'll tell you how. Free throws, that's how. The Pistons attempted 15 more free throws in the first half and made 13 more than the Lakers. Six Lakers have at least two fouls. When a team fouls like this it means one of two things:

1. The Lakers aren't quick enough to stay with the Pistons and instead of moving their feet, use their hands to try to stop the Pistons. And anytime you clutch and grab, that means fouls.

2. The Pistons are being more aggressive to the hoop.

I'll take door No. 1.

As for the Pistons' offense, in a word, atrocious. Chauncey Billups' first shot of the second half not withstanding, the Pistons' couldn't throw it into a black hole in the first half.

The star of the game so far? Shaquille O'Neal. With 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting and 12 boards, he's been dominant -- when he's received the ball.

Should be a good second half. I'll shut up now and watch.

Hook Mitchell
Posted by Randy Kim (NBA.com) on June 13 2004, 10:24 p.m. ET


Hook Mitchell and documentary director Michael Skolnik enjoy The Finals atmosphere. (NBA.com)

Jason Kidd calls him "the best player to come out of Oakland." Gary Payton says, "He was better than me. He was better than everybody."

For Demetrius "Hook" Mitchell, hoops came easy. It was life away from the game that posed the bigger challenge.

Mitchell, a 5-9 streetballer who once dunked while leaping over a car, is the subject of a feature documentary, "Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius 'Hook' Mitchell" that will air on NBA TV Monday night at 8 p.m. ET.

The Finals Blog caught up to Mitchell and asked him about his Oakland roots and who he's rooting for in The Finals.

What current players do you like to watch the most?
Mitchell: "Gary (Payton) and Jason (Kidd), because I grew up playing against them, and I respect them and watch them the most. Some of the people I like watching are people like Richard Hamilton and Richard Jefferson, people that play at both ends of the court. Defense and offense. I also like people like Ben Wallace, because he's the kind of player who works hard and lets everyone else get the credit. I like Ron Artest and the effort he gives."

What about guards like Marbury and some of the shorter players, who have similar playing styles to your own?
Mitchell: "I like Baron Davis and Steve Francis. They have the same body structure as me. I also like Marbury, for how quick he is."

You once jumped over a car to dunk. Can you talk about that?
Mitchell: "It started as a hoax. When I was growing up, I was kind of adventurous. One thing led to another, and I started seeing how high I could jump and what things I could jump over. First, I started out by jumping over people. Then bicycles, then motorcycles, and then cars. And one thing led to another, and then in a dunk contest, they asked me to try it."

Was that your best dunk ever?
Mitchell: "There were some dunks where I was looking into the basket, into the rim. Those were great, and then I shattered the glass one time. That was electrifying as well. And then there was this one dunk where I jumped up so high it felt like my head was over the rim, but I was so far away from the basket that I couldn't dunk it. I had to throw it in. Like the way Richard Jefferson dunks sometimes, without even touching the rim. I call it flushing the toilet without flushing the toilet."

Who do you think is going to win The Finals and why?
Mitchell: "Well, it's kind of hard to say who I think is going to win. Who I want to win is Gary Payton, because I grew up playing against him. But ultimately, it's going to depend on who comes to play."

Chillin'
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 13 2004, 9:45 p.m. ET

Not many defenders could keep up with George Gervin, but we managed to keep defensive position in front of him before Game 4 at the Palace. We asked "The Iceman" which defender gave him the most trouble back in the day.

"Dennis Johnson is the guy who gave me the most trouble when he was with Seattle or Boston," Gervin said. "He always played me well. I used to get 30-35 on most guys. I used to get a hard 30 on him." [Laughs.]

Johnson, better known by NBA fans from his days as a Celtic, won Finals MVP honor with the Seattle Sonics in 1979.

We're Back
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 13 2004, 9:30 p.m. ET

After some technical difficulties (a rabid Pistons fan chewed through our wires; surprisingly, he's OK), we're back. We do have George "The Iceman" Gervin's interview and we'll be getting that shortly.

Some quick observations. After Devean George got two quick fouls, the Lakers dusted off Rick Fox and he decided he wasn't going to take no mess. Fox is the Lakers' prime annoyer. He gets under people's skin.

And goodness, can any Laker stop Chauncey Billups? I mean, even for a play?

The Iceman Cometh
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 13 2004, 6:55 p.m. ET


Gervin was always as cool as Ice. (Andy Hayt/NBAE/Getty Images)

Evening, everyone. We're back here at the Palace for Game 4 of The Finals (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC) and so far, we've seen the ABC/ESPN crew take a group picture at the center jump ball circle. We conservatively estimated the number of ABC/ESPN employees at, oh, 5,000. (It was a big group.)

Geroge Gervin will be joining us tonight in The Finals Blog and we're sure he'll be cool as ice.

In regard to the game, Lakers great Magic Johnson provided a stark contrast to anything chilly as Saturday he was hot under the collar. Johnson, a part owner of the Lakers, blasted the current crop wearing purple and gold.
-- Miami Herald (Registration required)

I usually don't link to outside sources in The Finals Blog (that's a Click and Roll thing), but Johnson's comments were direct and interesting.

''I have eight rings (five as player, three as owner), and I want nine," he said. "But this is just unacceptable.''

Whether Magic's comments inspire the Lakers to rebound and play defense remains to be seen.

We're gonna head courtside for now to check out the scene down there. Back in a bit.

Dream Jobs
Posted by Randy Kim (NBA.com) on June 12 2004, 3:45 p.m. ET


Mason and Shannon make sure the home crowds are involved in the game. (NBA.com)

They walk a fine line between diehard fan and team employee. And short of the players themselves, no one in L.A. and Detroit does more to get the home crowds fired up than these two.

They're Pistons P.A. announcer John Mason and third-year Laker Girl Shannon, and they talked to The Finals Blog about what it's like having dream jobs with the two teams in The Finals.

(Below are excerpts of both interviews. Click on either of their names above to read complete versions of both interviews.)

JOHN MASON, PISTONS P.A. ANNOUNCER

How long have you been the P.A. announcer for the Pistons?
Mason: "Oh, I’m a real rookie. I’m green. Two and a half years. (Before that I was) a fan watching television, trying to save up my money to buy season tickets to try to get a seat. That was my goal the year that they selected me; I wanted to buy season tickets."

Was this job a dream of yours or were you just always a sports fan?
Mason: "“Just your normal sports fan. Loved all sports. Of course, hometown rooter for the Pistons, Lions and Tigers. Would save my money and buy the best seat I could buy. Never tried to really get to know players or anything, would just come. This was just a dream come true."

Do you have a favorite name to call out?
Mason: "I do, but the fans seem to have linked on to something else that I do. They seldom ever bring the national cameras here, so they did and I said, wow, how do I make the country understand that we have Detroit passion. So, I don’t have that golden, deep voice, so I have to do a finesse kind of announcing gig. So, I do this thing called ‘Deee-troit, bas-ket-ball’ on a turnover. And so now, the whole arena will do it when I do it, so they wait to see if I’m going to make it. I don’t do it every time, but we get into that pretty good. So we’ve got 22 thousand people going, ‘Deee-troit, bas-ket-ball.’ So, that’s kind of been my thing."

What is the crowd like here at the Palace?
Shannon: "I should use ear plugs. I’m stupid I don’t do it. This is a very hostile arena to play in. They are so hyped in this arena, it is crazy. They’re loud. And teams in the fourth quarter, they can’t hear the coaches’ instructions. They get lost, their eyes get big as pancakes and they get lost with the arena noise and the crowd here." (More ...)

SHANNON, LAKER GIRL

What's the best part of your job?
Shannon: "Performing at the games. Definitely being at the games… What’s really cool about our job is not only are we out there dancing, but we’re huge fans. We are into every moment of the game. We are watching the plays, yelling at the refs, doing all that stuff – we’re fans, too."

How many times do you change outfits during a game?
Shannon: "We change at least three times, but sometimes we’ll add a T-shirt or we’ll throw on a warm-up over what we have, so if you’re watching as a fan it can either look like three or it can look like five."

From your expert dancing opinion, who would be the best dancer?
Shannon: "I would say Shaq because he has the most energy and he’s not afraid to try anything it looks like."

Do you have a favorite player on the team?
Shannon: "I would have to say Derek Fisher is my favorite player. Even before the 0.4, Derek was my favorite player. I just feel like he plays with a lot of heart." (More ...)


Lost in Transportation
Posted by Randy Kim (NBA.com) on June 11 2004, 5:45 p.m. ET


While Tay talked on Friday, we were in a Pontiac somewhere in ... Pontiac.
(Chris Ivey/NBAE/Getty Images)

I'm updating The Finals Blog on behalf of Rob Peterson. He's busy writing Click and Roll right now. Make sure to check that out as well; he's got some good stuff comparing the Pistons' current defensive prowess to what they had in the '80s with the original Bad Boys.

He was lucky to get anything from today's media availability, though. We got lost on the way to The Palace. We went West in Pontiac when we should have gone ... the other way? This was due to my inability to accurately read a map. Either that or I was subconsciously trying to get us to the Silverdome. Apologies to Rob for making us miss our talk-time with the side that won last night.

But we were able to catch the Lakers' media session. (Let the conspiracy theories begin.) Here are a few of the hot topics that were being bandied about with the boys in purple and gold today:

- "Break Up the Lakers?" ... Writers are already honing in on the impending breakup of L.A., especially if they don't emerge victorious in The Finals. From Kobe testing free agency to Phil's uncertain status, numerous Lakers were asked if the great unknown affected their mindset in the series. The verdict? "Uh, we have a few more games left to play. Business is business, let's focus on The Finals." (In case you can't tell, I'm paraphrasing.)

- "O, Where Art Thou?" ... Most writers also wanted to know where the Lakers' much vaunted two-pronged offensive attack has gone. Why can't Kobe conquer Tayshaun's rangy D? Why can't the rest of the team just get Shaq the darn ball? This would seem to be a pressing concern, but L.A. seems to feel that while the Pistons are playing solid defense, the Lakers aren't executing well. "It's more about our inability to do some things, as opposed to what they're keeping us from doing," said Derek Fisher. Agreed, Derek, but I've never seen your team bad-night itself into 68 points before, especially in The Finals. I think this Detroit defense is more ferocious than anticipated.

- "Pistons the Next Spurs?" ... Numerous comparisons were made between the 2-1 deficit the Lakers face now and the 2-0 hole they were in against the Spurs, especially taking both teams' solid defenses into consideration. Most of the players agreed that the similarities exist, in that the Lakers once again have their backs to the wall. But L.A. also feels that Sunday's game could shift momentum dramatically. "One win on Sunday changes the tone of everything," said Fisher. "The front-page articles are written a little differently." True, but as it is the front pages are all filled with stories on how dominant the Pistons have been thus far. Which, in this non-expert's opinion, is exactly as it should be.

- "Malone's Knee" ... The Mailman's knee is hurting, but apparently the only thing that's bothering Malone more than the pain is the fact that he has to go through endless hours of treatment at the hands of Lakers trainer Gary Vitti. "I'd rather spend my time kicking back, or reading a nice book and burning my incense, instead of someone rubbing on you the whole time," said Malone. "That's not my idea of how to enjoy the day ... Gary rubbing my knee, that is. My wife's a different story." Well played, Karl.

That's it for now. Check back for another Finals Blog update tomorrow. In fact, I'll even go so far as to make a 'Sheed-esque guarantee: We'll find our way to The Palace without having to stop at two gas stations along the way. Either that or the navigator (me) will get left behind somewhere in the wilds of rural Michigan.


Ten Dollar Bill, Y'all!
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 11 2004, 1:05 a.m. ET


With 31 points, Hamilton was one shy of his jersey number.
(Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

Recently, there's been a movement to replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill.

Right now, I don't think you could give Joe Dumars, Larry Brown or the Pistons a billion $10 bills for Richard Hamilton. His 31-point performance in Detroit's 88-68 Game 3 win was priceless. The Pistons now ride a 2-1 series lead into Sunday's Game 4 (8:30 p.m. ET, ABC).

Down a game and with two more here at the Palace, the Lakers must, I repeat must, find a way to stop the Pistons backcourt if they want to win the series. After Chauncey Billups went to work in Games 1 and 2, Hamilton punched the clock on Thursday and knocked out the Lakers in Game 3 as he played a stellar 43-minutes of basketball on both ends of the floor.

This series has an eerie similarity to the "Greatest Finals Series of All Time" -- the 1984 Finals classic between the Celtics and Lakers. Granted, this series doesn't have the point total, but the pattern matches.

For example:

In 1984, the Lakers took Game 1 from the Celtics in Boston. This year, the Pistons took Game 1 in Los Angeles.

In 1984, the Celtics' Gerald Henderson stole a James Worthy pass, converted a layup to tie Game 2 and send it into overtime. The Celtics would go on to win in OT. Larry Bird admitted that if the Celtics had lost Game 2, the Lakers would have swept Boston. In 2004, Kobe Bryant hit a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, where the Lakers would go on to win. The prevailing feeling was that the Pistons would have swept the Lakers had they won Game 2.

In 1984, the Lakers trounced the Celtics in L.A. 137-104 in Game 3. To the press after the game, Bird called his teammates "sissies." The Celtics would win Game 4 129-125 in overtime and go on to win the series in seven. This year, the Pistons returned home and routed the Lakers by 20.

The rest is to be determined, but I'll definitely take another overtime game in Game 4. We'll see if any Laker is candid enough to call out his teammates in the press.

That being said, there were some interesting notes about this Game 3. The Lakers' 68 points was their lowest playoff point total ever. By launching 27 3-pointers, they tried their best to score. But launching threes isn't the Lakers' game, especially with the Big Fella in the post. Shaq had 14 points, his lowest-ever in a Finals game.

I think the single day between Games 2 and 3 helped the Pistons get over losing Game 2 in L.A. They had no time to mope and worry. The Lakers, however, have plenty of time -- Friday and Saturday -- to stew over this one.

This isn't sponsored, but it should be: The "Say Whaaaaaaa?" quote of the night, courtesy of Phil Jackson. Here's what Jackson said when asked why Kobe Bryant went 4-for-13 from the field.

Q: Are they changing up defense on Kobe or is this basically what he's been looking at?

Jackson: "No, that's what he's been looking at. He had a hard time shooting. This is a tough background to shoot in, it's a different one, and the basket, he had a few things that didn't go down for him; didn't get to the line too often."

Whaaaaaaa? The background? Are you kidding me? The problem isn't the shooting background (though they do vary from arena to arena based on where the seats are and the arena lighting), it's Kobe's shooting foreground -- and it often includes Tayshaun Prince's hand in Kobe's face or a Pistons double-team. That's the problem.

Here's something from the "Wishful Thinking" file. Someone futzed around with the scoreboard at the Palace, boosting the Lakers' score so it read: "Lakers 90, Pistons 88." Moments later, someone changed it back to its rightful final score: "Pistons 88, Lakers 68."

Finally, kudos to the Palace music director. He or she seems to pick perfect music during the game and during the press conferences. Tonight's offering included Prince for Tayshaun, Frank Sinatra's "The Best is Yet to Come" and a selection of Ray Charles. Rest in peace, Ray.

NBA Legends Speak
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 10 2004, 11:10 p.m. ET

Here in Detroit, the NBA legends are everywhere. From those on the floor to those great of the past, this place is teeming with them.

NBA.com caught up with two of them: Rick Barry and Spencer Haywood.

We asked Barry about his historic 55-point game in the 1967 Finals against the Sixers.

"Actually it was a very disappointing game for me, to be honest with you," Barry said. "I missed seven free throws. That's like a nightmare for me. Seven -- seven free throws. I didn't miss seven free throws in months."

Rick, always the perfectionist. Luckily for Rick, the Warriors would go on to win the game 130-126. You can read the rest of the interview here.

We also had the chance to talk to Spencer Haywood. We asked him for which team he most liked playing for during his NBA career.

"My favorite franchise was Seattle," Haywood said, "and my second favorite, which is very close, is the New York Knicks. Seattle because it's where I started and it's where everything was happening for me and I had great years there. And New York because I just love New York , playing in the Garden, playing for those fans, and those knowledgeable fans."

Boost your knowledge of Haywood by reading our interview with him.

Leaving Tire Marks
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 10 2004, 9:58 p.m. ET


Just like high school, Rasheed wore his jersey on game day.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)

How balky do the Lakers look right now? The had a three-on-two break and the result of that break was a Lakers timeout. Strange.

Let's look at the early numbers.

The Pistons have outrebounded the Lakers 20-9 as of the 10-minute mark in the second, and that includes seven -- SEVEN -- offensive boards. In Game 2, the Pistons had 19. The Lakers need to do something about that.

Luke Walton has three fouls.

The Pistons have been to the line 10 times to the Lakers' three. And the Lakers, again, have four team fouls early in the second quarter.

Unless the Lakers even these numbers, we may get a very uneven result this evening.

Out of the Blocks
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 10 2004, 9:30 p.m. ET

Looks like the Pistons have taken a Game 3 attitude toward Game 2, as in: "What Game 2?"

Also, the Lakers already have four team fouls. One more and the Pistons are shooting free throws for the rest of the first quarter.

Oh, and the reason it's so loud and has been in arenas around the NBA this season, the NBA, with tonight's crowd of 22,076, has established the all-time record for total attendance as 21,810,973 fans attended games this season. Or, that's one fan for all the spare change in Bill Gates' couch cushions.

Pistoned Off
Posted by Rob Peterson (NBA.com) on June 10 2004, 9:10 p.m. ET

Hey, everyone. Just got back on. It's crazy loud here at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Everyone, I think even the ushers, have Thunder Stix. Because the game is about to start and we're getting Anita Baker to sing the National Anthem.

Back in a sec.

OK, we're back. Anita was awesome, per usual.

Quickly, here are some of the people we saw courtside before the game: Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz, former Piston and Laker, John Salley, Piston great Isiah Thomas and Vinny "The Microwave" Johnson to name a few.

But as the signs say around the Palace: Hard work pays off.

Now, personally, I wouldn't know, but I'll try to match the work ethic they espouse here. Let's get to Game 3. We're pumped.