Detroit 87, L.A. Lakers 75
LOS ANGELES, June 6 (Ticker) --
Cancel the coronation, stop planning
the parade route and don't start taking ring sizes just yet for
the Los Angeles Lakers. The Detroit Pistons have come to play.
Led by their trademark daunting defense and some timely offense
from Chauncey Billups
, the Pistons turned The Finals upside
down with a shocking 87-75 victory over the heavily-favored
Lakers in Game 1.
NBA TV highlights from |
Chauncey Billups went for 8-for-14 from the floor in Game 1 for Detroit.
Jesse D. Garrabrant
The pressure-tested Pistons withstood a big game from Shaquille O'Neal
and a bad game from Richard Hamilton
to ambush the
Lakers, who came into this series as odds-on favorites.
For the Lakers, D-Day came in the form of Detroit's defense,
which silenced everyone except O'Neal and Kobe Bryant
thoroughly squelching performance. Future Hall of Famers Karl Malone
and Gary Payton
combined for seven points; five other
Lakers totaled nine.
"I don't know if we could ever defend better," said Pistons
coach Larry Brown, who also ambushed the Lakers here with
Philadelphia in the 2001 Finals opener. "We contested shots. We
did an unbelievable job, and that's what it's going to take."
"They took everybody else out of the game," said Lakers coach
Phil Jackson, whose march to a record 10th championship has been
Billups scored 22 points, totally outplaying a perplexed Payton
at point guard. He shook off a slump and picked up the slack
for Hamilton, who had come in with eight straight 20-point games
but was limited to 12 on an uncharacteristic 5-of-16 shooting
as he clearly was in the crosshairs of the defense.
"I wanted to be aggressive," Billups said. "One thing is no
matter how bad I play, I never lose confidence. I know what I can
do. I know I'm going to be aggressive."
"When you focus on one player, you can't on this team because we
spread the floor and we play together and we did that tonight,"
For the fourth time in as many series, the Pistons stole a road
game. They get a chance for another on Tuesday, when the Lakers
should be taking matters far more seriously.
"I don't look at us as underdogs," said Brown, who managed a
"It puts a lot of pressure on us for the next game," said
O'Neal, who made 13-of-16 shots.
In their first home loss in 10 playoff games, the Lakers endured
a combined 0-of-8 from Malone and Payton in the first half and
went nearly 20 minutes without a free throw in the second half.
They had 16 turnovers and just 15 assists and got just one
basket from their bench.
A 3-pointer by Billups capped a 10-4 surge that opened the
second half and gave the Pistons the lead for good. They nursed
it through the third quarter, then pounced with O'Neal on the
bench, pushing the advantage to 73-60 on a jumper by Hamilton
with 9:16 to go.
"We could not get any stops, especially in the third quarter,"
The Lakers climbed back into it as the Pistons went nearly five
minutes without a basket, closing to 74-68 on two free throws by
Bryant, who needed 27 shots to score 25 points.
But Tayshaun Prince
- whose sprawling wingspan clearly bothered
Bryant - ended the drought with a 3-pointer at the 4:21 mark
that silenced the sellout crowd at the Staples Center.
Pick-and-roll jumpers by Rasheed Wallace
and Billups answered
desperation baskets by the Lakers and pushed the dagger in
"Pick your poison," Billups said. "Either you trap me and leave
one of those guys open or you let me come off and hope that
everyone else helps."
"We're not happy just to be here," said Wallace, who overcame
foul trouble to collect 14 points and eight rebounds. "Everyone
in that locker room is hungry."
By the end, Brown's instructions from the sidelines could be
heard over the crowd, which was filing out. Perhaps they should
have been listening, because he clearly outcoached Jackson.
In the first half, Brown resembled a man trying to squeeze the
last bit of toothpaste out of the tube. He defended Bryant with
Prince instead of Hamilton. He rotated his big men to account
for Rasheed Wallace's two early fouls. And he got some help
from veteran 7-footer Elden Campbell
, who had nine DNPs in the
Campbell did the best job on O'Neal, who had an overpowering 20
points and could have had a lot more had his teammates thrown
him the ball. The Lakers had just four assists in the first
half, a total matched by Campbell.
Billups wasted no time making his mark with 11 points in the
first quarter while putting Payton in foul trouble. Early in
the second period, he went hurtling over the first row of seats
to save a loose ball off the foot of Lakers guard Kareem Rush
"I wanted to come out and be aggressive and try to set the
tone," Billups said.
The Pistons trailed just 41-40 at halftime and could have been
sitting even prettier had they not missed eight free throws or
gotten Hamilton untracked.