Monday, June 14, 2004

Fresh From LA Times


Motown Misery for Lakers
Bryant struggles through 7 for 25 shooting night as Pistons take 3-1 lead in NBA Finals with 88-80 victory over L.A.
By Chris Sheridan
AP Basketball Writer

June 6, 2004

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Cool, calm and collected, the Detroit Pistons took care of business while the Lakers lost their tempers.

Taking the lead early in the fourth quarter, holding it the rest of the way and repelling every Los Angeles rally, the Detroit Pistons moved one victory closer to their first championship in 14 years with a convincing 88-80 victory Sunday night in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

Detroit now holds a 3-1 lead, and the Pistons have made one thing crystal clear — they are the better of these two basketball teams despite lacking the edge in egos, superstars and problems.

These were some of the scenes that Pistons' fans will cherish: Chauncey Billups draining timely 3-pointers, Rasheed Wallace backpedalling downcourt with a minute left after making a jumper that capped his best game of the playoffs; Richard Hamilton calmly knocking down free throws.

As for the Lakers, the snapshots were these: Kobe Bryant screaming at the referees and picking up an untimely technical foul; Shaquille O'Neal yelling at someone in the Lakers' huddle, most likely Bryant, for failing to do the smart thing and get him the ball; Karl Malone staying parked on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, a non-factor again.

It's almost over for these Lakers, their breakup possibly commencing by the upcoming week.

Game 5 is Tuesday night, and the Pistons could become the first team to bring the title back to the Eastern Conference since Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls won it in 1998.

Wallace scored 26, Billups had 23 and Hamilton 17 to lead the Pistons, who outscored the Lakers 32-24 in the fourth quarter.

O'Neal had 36 and Bryant 20 for the Lakers, whose dysfunctional two-man show isn't enough to keep up with Detroit's depth and determination.