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LAKERS VS. DETROIT | PISTON NOTES

These Calls Went Brown's Way

June 16, 2004|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — As the Pistons piled up victories in the NBA Finals, Coach Larry Brown received more and more calls on his cellphone.

Brown, in his 21st season in the NBA, heard from coaches, assistants and players he worked with or coached at one time or another, be it with Denver, New Jersey, San Antonio, the Clippers, Indiana or Philadelphia.

The theme was the same throughout: Good luck.

"Guys that have worked for me, that have been loyal to me, that have put me in this position, all want to see me succeed," he said. "It's not that they're pulling against the Lakers, but they care about me."

Brown had won the most playoff games in NBA history -- 84 after Game 4 -- without winning an NBA championship, but his name can be removed from the top of that unsavory list after the Pistons' 100-87 victory Tuesday against the Lakers that ended the Finals in five games.

Brown, who led the Kansas Jayhawks to the 1988 NCAA championship, became the first coach to win an NBA and an NCAA title.

"Since this is toward the end of it for me and the way we did it against such a quality coach and a quality team, it's a pretty incredible feeling," said Brown, 63. "I haven't been through 48 minutes like that."

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Rasheed Wallace never beat the Lakers in five playoff series with the Portland Trail Blazers, but he is now on a championship team for the first time after finally beating the Lakers.

Before the Finals, Wallace reminded teammates he came "within six minutes" of a Finals appearance in 2000, referring to the Lakers' 15-0 fourth-quarter run in Game 7 that eliminated the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals.

Tuesday night, there was no fourth-quarter comeback for the Lakers.

"It definitely feels good at this moment," Wallace said. "Just sit back and think about it. We know we're sitting on top of the world."

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Detroit was poised for a Piston victory long before Tuesday night's tipoff.

The local ABC affiliate started the day by preempting regular daytime shows to broadcast NBA programming, including a rerun of Game 4. Tailgating fans arrived four hours before game time and local TV reporters added to the hoopla by providing minute-by-minute coverage from inside and outside the Palace.

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