Detroit 88, L.A. Lakers 80
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 13 (Ticker) --
The Detroit Pistons remain
unrelenting. The Los Angeles Lakers are unraveling.
The Pistons moved within one win of capturing the NBA title, finishing with a rush in an 88-80 Game 4
victory over the Lakers, who appear to be going down in a
hailstorm of missed shots and unmet expectations.
NBA TV highlights from|
The Pistons have used tough defense en route to a 3-1 lead.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images
An emotional Rasheed Wallace
emerged from a personal prison of
foul trouble to collect playoff highs of 26 points and 13
rebounds. He teamed with Chauncey Billups
and Richard Hamilton
to fuel a 32-point fourth quarter that brought The Palace of
Auburn Hills to a fever pitch and pushed the Lakers to the
Wallace took advantage of a hobbled Karl Malone
and abused a
series of smaller substitutes as he effectively worked his
inside-outside game. On defense, he was a one-man zone, helping
with an unruly Shaquille O'Neal
"I knew Karl was a little hobbled, so that was one of the
weaknesses in their defense," said Wallace, who made 10-of-23
shots in 41 minutes. "That's something we had to attack. ... He
has a bad knee or whatever, so we can't have no sympathy for
"We need him to play major minutes and I think tonight really
showed his value," Pistons coach Larry Brown added.
The forward got in a shoving match with Slava Medvedenko
in the third quarter and fired his headband into the crowd after
missing a 3-pointer in the final period. But he remained
focused and finished the job.
"I'm not out there to throw elbows and all of that," he said.
"I'm out there to try to help my team win. All that
extracurricular stuff can be handled in the back."
Wallace managed to keep his cool while the Lakers were losing
theirs. Coach Phil Jackson picked up an early technical foul
before falling behind 3-1 in a series for the first time in his
career. A flurry of fouls had the players bickering with the
referees, and Kobe Bryant
was hit with a technical in the fourth
"That was somewhat of a factor," Bryant admitted.
Billups scored 23 points and Hamilton added 17 as the backcourt
mates combined for 19 points in the final period. That helped
Detroit withstand an assault by O'Neal, who also had playoff
highs of 36 points and 20 rebounds but was reduced to a one-man
"I'm very upset," said O'Neal, who made 16-of-21 shots. "We let
one slip away. ... We had it, just in the fourth quarter, we
made some mistakes."
One of those mistakes was not giving the ball enough to O'Neal.
As they have throughout the series, the Pistons shut down most
of O'Neal's teammates and bothered Bryant, who made just 8-of-25
shots as he fired away at will and made Detroit's job much
"Some of them were good and some of them stunk," said Bryant,
who didn't shoot a free throw until late in the fourth quarter.
"That's pretty much every game with me."
For the fourth straight game, the Pistons were the more
energetic, hungrier team. They shot 41 free throws to 22 for
the Lakers, held a 45-38 rebounding edge and scored 21
When the series started, many wondered how the Pistons going to
win one game. Now it's hard to imagine them losing one. The
Lakers still have not had a double-digit scorer beside O'Neal or
"We all pretty much (stunk) the last two games," Bryant said.
"Give credit to the Pistons," added Jackson, something the
Lakers haven't done much of in the series. "They handled the
adversity of Shaq's great game and kept their composure and
found a way to get to the foul line."
No team has ever blown a 3-1 lead in the Finals. The Pistons
can win their first NBA title in 14 years here Tuesday. It
would be the first championship and one that will be remembered
for a long, long time for Brown, who is not worried about
"I think this group can deal with it because they are trying
their darnedest to do it the right way," Brown said. "So
there's no need even thinking about what no team did."
Hamilton closed the third quarter with a hoop that tied it at
56-56, then opened the final period with two jumpers to give
Detroit the lead for good. When Ben Wallace swooped in for a
rebound of his own missed free throw and put in a layup, it was
65-60 with 8:07 to go.
O'Neal was unstoppable at the other end, but Rasheed Wallace
made a jumper and two free throws around two 3-pointers by
Billups - who is emerging as the MVP favorite - for a 75-67
advantage with five minutes remaining. Bryant was slapped with
a tech seconds later.
Rasheed Wallace sank a turnaround at the 2:11 mark for an 83-72
bulge, then choked off a last gasp by the Lakers with a jumper
for an 86-78 lead with a minute to go.
"I knew it was just a matter of time that Sheed was going to get
going," Billups said. "When he's rolling and you've got Rip
rolling and hitting shots and myself, we're tough to play."
The Lakers didn't change their lineup, but they did change their
strategy, force-feeding O'Neal early on. He was 5-of-5 with
three dunks in the first quarter. But he had just one touch in
the last seven minutes as Bryant kept misfiring.
Meanwhile, the Pistons survived at the free-throw line. After a
three-point play by Wallace gave them a 21-18 lead with 2:06
left in the first quarter, they went more than eight minutes
without a basket but kept the lead as the Lakers got into team
Four straight fast-break baskets by the Pistons opened a 41-36
lead before Bryant buried a 3-pointer to finish the half
"He rushed his shots a little bit," Jackson said. "He made some
shots a little later in the ballgame, but he's not shooting the
ball well right now."
Malone gutted his way through 21 minutes before sitting down for
good with 7 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter.