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

Billups Talks Up Urgency

June 15, 2004|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Chauncey Billups didn't sleep Sunday night, and Richard Hamilton sounded congested Monday afternoon, but the Detroit Pistons said they would continue to scratch and scrap with the Lakers, sniffles and sleeplessness to be worried about at a later date.

On the brink of their third NBA championship since the league was formed in 1949, the Pistons continued to talk the way they have throughout the playoffs: defense first, victories later.

"We talked in the locker room, and we all said we've got to play this game [tonight] like we're down, 3-1," said Billups, who said he felt too hyper to sleep after Sunday's victory. "We've got to come out scrapping and playing with a sense of urgency because we know that they will."

That the Pistons hold a two-game cushion on the Lakers and are a victory away from becoming the first home team to win the middle segment of the 2-3-2 Finals format seems to be affecting them only mildly.

"Everything is happening so fast, so you really don't have time to really think about it and think on what we have accomplished as a team, because we still have another game," Hamilton said. "We know what's at stake, but in reality we don't. We just say it's another game that we've got to go ahead and win."

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Guard Lindsey Hunter, a member of the 2002 Laker championship team, said winning a title with the Pistons would be more important to him.

"Probably because I have been living here for 10 years and Detroit is my home," said Hunter, averaging four points in the Finals. "I was drafted here in Detroit and have a lot of ties here. Winning a championship would be really special."

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The Pistons studied tape of the Lakers' previous playoff series and determined that San Antonio and Minnesota had some success in tiring the Lakers by running up and down the court.

Thus was born part of the Piston game plan.

The Pistons overwhelmed the Lakers in fastbreak points, 21-5, in Game 4.

"You can definitely see them starting to wear down in the beginning of the fourth [quarter], midway through the fourth," Wallace said. "That's our game plan. We're going to go out there [and] we're going to run. We're going to make Shaquille [O'Neal] and Karl Malone chase us. Even if we don't have the ball, we're going to run and force them to get up and down the floor."

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Billups, the probable Finals most valuable player if the Pistons win, already is divvying up credit.

"We've got so many different guys who can hurt you in so many different ways, so I just think that whoever wins the MVP will feel like we can just break that trophy up into 13 pieces," he said. "That's how our team is."

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