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NBA PLAYOFFS: PISTONS VS. LAKERS / SERIES REPORT |
PISTON REPORT

Carlisle Is Not One of Doubters

June 03, 2004|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Not many will give the Detroit Pistons much of a chance against the Lakers. Not after they made only 37.3% of their shots against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.

They won Game 6 on Tuesday night, 69-65, despite making only 32.9% of their shots, ending the lowest-scoring conference final in the shot-clock era.

But they're gritty and determined, tall and athletic, and they averaged 9.3 blocks a game against the Pacers, limiting the team that posted the NBA's best regular-season record to 34.9% shooting and 72.7 points, the all-time low for a conference finalist.

And Pacer Coach Rick Carlisle, who guided the Pistons to two division championships and last year's Eastern Conference finals before he was fired after last season, believes they're capable of pulling off the upset.

"I think they've got a great chance," he said. "This is a team that's built the right way to play the Lakers. They've got big guys that can shoot the ball deep. They've got rebounders. They've got perimeter guys that can dribble, pass and shoot. They're going to have a great chance to win a championship."

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Rick Fox saw this coming.

After the Pistons' 106-96 victory over the Lakers on Nov. 18 at Auburn Hills, the Laker forward stopped Piston President Joe Dumars, according to the Detroit News, and whispered in his ear, "We'll see you guys in the Finals in June. You have a hell of a team, the best team in the East."

Dumars was "surprised and flattered," columnist Rob Parker wrote this week.

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Richard Hamilton appeared to be knocked woozy when he took a forearm to the jaw from Ron Artest and fell to the floor with 3:57 to play Tuesday night, but the Pistons' scoring leader said he was fine. After a short delay, he picked himself up and made two free throws, giving the Pistons their first lead of the game.

"I was always good," he said. "He threw me a nice shot. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't bleeding or nothing."

Hamilton, who scored 21 points Tuesday, averaged 23.7 against the Pacers, making 47.4% of his shots while his teammates combined to make 33.7%.

Of the regulars, Ben Wallace made 40.4%, Rasheed Wallace 35.6%, Tayshaun Prince 32.5%, Chauncey Billups 30.8% and Corliss Williamson 30%.

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The Pistons' series-clinching victory over the Pacers was the second-lowest-scoring playoff game since the shot clock was introduced in 1954, their winning score the lowest in a series-clinching game in the shot-clock era. The four lowest-scoring games all have involved the Pistons, three in the last month, all Piston victories. They lost, however, in the lowest-scoring playoff game of the shot-clock era: a 66-64 victory for the Boston Celtics on May 10, 2002.

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