MIAMI, May 23 (Ticker) -- Rasheed Wallace
, Chauncey Billups
rest of the Detroit Pistons gave the Miami Heat a severely
Controlling Shaquille O'Neal
and limiting Dwyane Wade
Pistons grabbed control of the Eastern Conference Finals with a
90-81 Game 1 victory over the Heat.
NBA TV highlights from |
Wallace had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Chauncey Billups
of his 18 points in the final five minutes, when the
second-seeded Pistons showed their championship mettle and dealt
the top-seeded Heat their first loss of the postseason.
"Like I said before Game 1, we're still the underdogs,"
Wallace said. "The majority of you guys (media) have either
Miami or San Antonio winning it all, but we still just go out
there and play. We're just trying to prove last year wasn't a
The 7-1, 330-pound O'Neal was a game-time decision with a
bruised thigh that has bothered him for over a month. He was
his dominant self at times but seemed to be able to play only in
"I watched him," Pistons coach Larry Brown
said. "He's having a
hard time jumping off of one leg. It's amazing he could be as
effective as he was without playing. ... He didn't have the
lift, especially turning to the middle, and then defensively, I
saw him trying - it was really hard for him to get out (on the
"This was nothing but a test for myself," O'Neal said. "(I felt)
all right. We had opportunities to win this game. ... I missed
a couple of shots that I don't usually miss."
In 34 minutes, O'Neal scored 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting.
However, he grabbed just five rebounds and was not a factor down
the stretch, when the Pistons took control with their defense
and clutch play.
After Miami had erased a 14-point third-quarter deficit and
pulled into an 80-80 tie, Billups made a pair of baskets around
a free throw by O'Neal to give Detroit the lead for good with
It was still 84-81 when Wallace made a terrific block of Udonis Haslem
's jumper and saved the rebound with 1:35 to play. After
a jumper by Richard Hamilton
, Wallace took a charge from Eddie Jones
"We did all the things I think you would hope to do down the
stretch," Brown said.
Wade missed a 3-pointer and Billups hit a runner and two free
throws to seal it. The Heat did not have a basket in the last
five minutes, missing their last seven shots.
Wade, who had been unstoppable through the first two rounds, was
held to 16 points on 7-of-25 shooting as he was hounded by
Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince.
"He's a very good defender. He's very long," Wade said. "But
for the majority of the night they were switching on screens.
Rasheed stuck me pretty much on some switches and Rip (Hamilton)
also, so they just threw different defenders at me and gave me
"I tried to keep him in front of me," Prince said. "He's a lot
quicker than me. I just tried to use my length as an advantage
and make him take shots over me."
Hamilton scored 16 points and Ben Wallace
added 13 and 13
rebounds for the Pistons, who had six players in double figures
and a 41-34 rebounding edge.
Eddie Jones had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Heat, who
had won their first eight playoff games by an average of 10.9
points but had not played in nine days.
"I didn't think over the course of 48 minutes that we defended
with the sense of urgency we need to play a team of this caliber
in the playoffs," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy
said. "We're going
to have to do that for much longer stretches, much closer to a
"We have to fight," O'Neal said. "We had it easy the first two
rounds. Now we have a real challenge on our hands and we have
to accept it."
Game 2 is Wednesday at American Airlines Arena, where the
Pistons are the only team to beat the Heat since January 21.
O'Neal was not listed in the lineups on the scoreboard but
started and made his first four shots before swatting a drive by
Billups off the backboard.
"The adrenaline kicks in on game day," said O'Neal who missed a
handful of practices leading up to this series. "It was hurting
this morning, but as the day went on I wanted to play, I wanted
to play. The adrenaline kicked in, so it felt looser."
"Shaq had a great effort and was a real presence for them
early," Prince said. "He's Shaq; we knew he was going to play
and be a factor and he was that and more."
Wallace drilled three early 3-pointers to keep the
Pistons in it, then drained three jumpers in a 20-7 run that
opened the second half and gave Detroit a 64-50 lead.
The lead was still 80-71 after Hamilton's jumper with 9:09 to go
before Wade's only basket of the fourth quarter triggered a 9-0
run. Haslem's jumper tied it, 80-80, with 5:12 to go but was
Miami's last basket.