PONTIAC, Mich. — Forward Adrian Dantley of the Detroit Pistons, an ice pack strapped to his left side, squinted into the bright glare of the TV lights as he was cornered by a horde of reporters in the Pistons' locker room.
Dantley had a game-high 27 points as the Pistons pounded the Lakers, 111-86, in Game 4 of the National Basketball Assn. Finals Tuesday night at the Silverdome to even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
"I call A.D. teacher because he always teaches you something new," said forward John Salley of the Pistons. "And tonight teacher had night school."
Dantley, who had been in a slump as the Pistons dropped the previous two games of the championship series, got off to a good start, scoring 13 points in the first 12 minutes as Detroit outscored the Lakers, 32-29, in the first quarter. The 32 points that the Pistons produced in the first quarter were the most that they had scored in their last 11 quarters.
Dantley had 17 points in the first half as Detroit built a 58-51 lead. He scored eight points in the third quarter as the Pistons took control of the game by outscoring the Lakers, 25-14. And he added two points in the final quarter.
"He was great offensively in the first half," Detroit Coach Chuck Daly said of Dantley. "He gave us a big, big game, and we've got to have that kind of game from him to sustain anything in this series."
Dantley, a former two-time NBA scoring champion, had scored 34 points as Detroit beat the Lakers, 105-93, in the series' first game last week in the Forum. But A.C. Green and the Lakers had done a good job of holding him in check in winning the next two games.
Dantley scored just 19 points in Game 2 and he was limited to only 14 points in Game 3, including just two points in the second half of the Lakers' 13-point win over the Pistons Sunday.
The Lakers, however, failed to contain Dantley as the Pistons ended a two-game losing streak.
"A.D. has a great game," the Lakers' Mychal Thompson said. "You might be able to hold him down in one game, but he's like nitroglycerin. You can only go so far before it explodes in your face."
Said Detroit center Bill Laimbeer: "A.D. played very well tonight. They didn't double-team him as much, but we also went back to him after he had passed the ball."
Dantley had complained that the Pistons were cheated out of free throws after the Lakers shot 22 more free throws than Detroit in Game 3. Daly was ejected from the game with 5:05 left after he complained about the disparity in foul shots.
But Tuesday night, the Pistons shot nine more free throws as they embarrassed the defending champions by 25 points.
Dantley, who shot just two free throws Sunday, made 13 of 15 free throws Tuesday as Detroit made 36 of 46 free throws. The Lakers made 26 of 37 foul shots.
"We went to the basket a little harder tonight, and it worked to our advantage," Dantley said. "I'm sure the Lakers are over there in their locker room complaining about not going to the free-throw line."
But the Lakers weren't saying much.
"I don't want to talk about the officiating," said Laker Coach Pat Riley, who was given a technical foul by referee Jack Madden in the fourth quarter Tuesday night.
Riley refused to concede that Daly's complaints about the officiating in Sunday's game may have had an effect in Game 4.
"If a temper tantrum can sway competent professionals (referees), then we're all in trouble," Riley said. "We got our (free throws) the other night (Sunday), and they got theirs tonight. In Game 5 maybe we'll see some consistency. It seemed one-sided, but I don't think we came with a strong enough effort."
Said Daly: "I think we just had to become more aggressive. You can't get to the free-throw line unless you're aggressive. We did a much better job of pounding the Lakers inside tonight than we did Sunday."
The Pistons scored 38 points inside the key, and the Lakers had 18.
Said Dantley: "We did what we do best, and that's getting to the free-throw line. We were a lot more aggressive tonight. You can't get to the foul line without being physical."
Dantley, who had complained that he didn't get the ball enough after he shooting 11 times in Game 3, hit 7 of 14 shots from the floor as he had his second most productive outing of the championship series.
"The key was that the ball was in my hands a lot more tonight," Dantley said. "It's very difficult to score without the ball."