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NBA FINALS / LAKERS VS. DETROIT | SERIES REPORT / PISTON
NOTES

Nothing Surprises Hunter

June 10, 2004|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Almost to a man, the Detroit Pistons were bewildered by the Lakers' Game 2 comeback.

Not reserve guard Lindsey Hunter.

A member of the 2002 championship Lakers, Hunter was chagrined, but not surprised by Kobe Bryant's shattering shot Tuesday night.

That the Lakers went on a 17-4 run late in the fourth quarter and overtime didn't stun Hunter. To him, 2.1 seconds seemed like enough time for Bryant to turn around a game and, perhaps, a series.

After all, Hunter was there when Robert Horry's last-second three-pointer lifted the Lakers in Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference finals against Sacramento.

"Those guys know how to win games," Hunter said. "They've proven it time and time again. No matter what their adversity has been, they've learned to develop the attitude where they're never out of a game. You saw that [Tuesday] night."

Hunter, averaging five points and 12.5 minutes in the Finals, said a split in Staples Center "wasn't a bad thing at all," but he acknowledged that a 2-0 Laker deficit heading into tonight's game in Auburn Hills would have been difficult, even for the Lakers.

"We wanted to win that game," Hunter said. "We didn't come in after we won the first game and say we'll give up on the second game. It was right there for us and we didn't finish it."

*

Point guard Chauncey Billups continues to have his way against the Lakers, making him the most successful, and optimistic, of the Pistons.

In two games, he is averaging 24.5 points and 6.5 assists, all but matching his average of 26.5 points and 6.5 assists in two regular-season games against the Lakers.

"I definitely don't think our chance to grab hold of this slipped away," he said. "We had them on the ropes and they got out. Three quarters out of every game, we have outplayed their team. First game, they said it was a fluke and what not. We stayed within striking distance [in Game 2] and kind of turned the game around and we had it. This is going to be a good, long series. I'm sure that they know that."

*

Elden Campbell, pivotal player?

Campbell played only nine minutes in Game 2 because of foul trouble and was missed by his teammates.

"We are really dependent on Elden in this series," Billups said. "He's a tough cover for those guys because he can pick and pop. He's a very good shooter up to 16 feet and he's the biggest body that we have to lean on Shaq [O'Neal]."

Campbell scored two points in Game 2. He had six points and four assists in 18 minutes in Game 1.

*

Tuesday's loss marked only the second time in 20 playoff games the Pistons have given up more than 95 points. They lost to the New Jersey Nets during the Eastern Conference semifinals, 127-120, in triple overtime.

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