Detroit 88, L.A. Lakers 68
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 10 (Ticker) --
After taking an untimely
brief break at the end of Game 2, the defense of the Detroit
Pistons returned with a record-setting vengeance.
With a smothering effort that shut down both Shaquille O'Neal
and Kobe Bryant
, the Pistons shook off a loss and shackled the
Los Angeles Lakers, 88-68, moving closer to an improbable NBA
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Rasheed Wallace made his presence felt under the boards by grabbing 10 rebounds.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
After Detroit's Game 1 win, coach Larry Brown
said he didn't
think his team could defend better. Back on their home court in
front of a manic crowd, the Pistons proved him wrong as they
stymied O'Neal and Bryant, the superstars who had combined for
better than 60 points per game.
"This is as good as we can play," said Brown, correcting
O'Neal, who never had been held below 25 points in 21 career
Finals games, was limited to 14 on 7-of-14 shooting and missed
his only two free throws as he was harassed by two-time
Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace
and hampered by foul
"We were decent," Wallace said in the understatement of the
season. "I think there are still areas where we need to get
"I took 14 shots," a defiant O'Neal said. "I think that's the
first time in 10 years I only went to the line once. I thought
I was getting bumped, but maybe not."
Bryant, whose game-tying 3-pointer in Game 2 is the only thing
keeping the Lakers in this series, did not make a shot in the
first half as he looked confused and distracted on both ends of
the floor. Shadowed by 6-9 albatross Tayshaun Prince
, he scored
11 points on 4-of-13 shooting, including 0-of-4 from the arc.
"I just try to use my length," said Prince, who has an 84-inch
wingspan. "For the most part, he's quick. (I'm) just trying to
use my length and stay in front of him. The times that you let
him get one step past you, that's the time that he scores."
"For the most part, tonight I was attacking 30 feet from the
basket," said Bryant, who had four turnovers.
With the rest of the roster providing what it usually does --
next to nothing -- the Lakers were held to a franchise postseason
in low in points in the 50 years of the shot clock era, a span
of a staggering 561 games.
"That is an incredible accomplishment," Brown said. "I'll tell
As ineffective as O'Neal and Bryant were, they again were the
only players in double figures for Los Angeles, which never led
and trailed by double digits for the final 20 minutes; shot 36.5
percent (27-of-74) from the field, including 6-of-27 from the
arc; and attempted just 13 free throws.
The Pistons also pushed around the Lakers, muscling to a 51-39
advantage on the boards and 16-3 in second-chance points. Coach
became so frustrated in the third quarter that he
benched every starter except Bryant.
"At halftime, I told the team, I don't think we can play any
worse than we played in the first half as far as shooting the
ball and executing in the open floor," Jackson said. "But we
tried hard in the second half to duplicate it."
finally got loose and scored 31 points and Chauncey Billups added 19 for the Pistons, who
grabbed a 2-1 series lead that seems much bigger.
"We came in yesterday and watched the film (from Game 2) and
let it go," said Billups, who continues to outplay Gary Payton
their point guard matchup. "We came in and just let it go."
Game 4 is right back here on Sunday. The Lakers are 0-7 in
Finals when trailing 2-1 and could be without Karl Malone. The
future Hall of Fame forward was clearly hobbled by his sprained
MCL, scoring five points in 18 minutes.
Hosting the Finals for the first time in 14 years, the Pistons
were rather rude, scoring the first eight points as the Lakers
missed their first five shots. That set the tone as Detroit was
quicker, stronger and hungrier.
"That was something we needed," Rasheed Wallace
said. "That was
pure adrenaline right there."
The Pistons led, 24-16, after one period, even though Rasheed
Wallace made his customary two-foul early exit. They pushed the
lead to 13 points early in the second period as Bryant remained
remarkably silent, thanks to Prince.
"You can't guard better than Tayshaun guarded," Brown said.
The Lakers trailed, 39-32, at halftime and it could have been a
lot worse as the Pistons missed countless easy shots and six
free throws. But all the signs of a blowout were there.
"They (have) shot almost 2-to-1 in free throws in this series
... and that a lot of times is a sign of the aggressor, the team
that's most aggressive in basketball. And we're the reactors,"
For the third time in as many games, the Pistons dominated the
third quarter, usually a trademark of the Lakers. Billups
scored eight points in the first four minutes, and when Prince
put home a follow dunk, it was 54-40, and the Lakers had no
Bryant finally broke through with a jumper at the 7:35 mark, but
it was too late. Hamilton scored 15 points in the final 16
minutes, touching off a party at The Palace.