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Technically Sound Pistons Force Game 7

With Wade in street clothes, Detroit keeps its focus and blows away the Heat, 91-66. Star Miami guard is expected to play in the deciding game.

June 05, 2005|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Game 7, guaran-Sheed.

On a night when Rasheed Wallace behaved himself and even proved to be somewhat prophetic, the Detroit Pistons decided they weren't quite ready to become ex-champions.

Bad boys they weren't, collecting their poise and coolly dissecting the Miami Heat on the way to a staggering 91-66 victory Saturday in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at the Palace. Game 7 is Monday in Miami.

Detroit talk-radio hosts all but demanded the return of Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer to re-establish a championship instinct in the Piston lineup, but there was little to fuss about in Game 6.

Even Wallace was on gold-star-earning behavior, drawing only one technical foul and helping back his guarantee of a Piston victory.

"Just happy to go out there and play," Wallace said. "Backs are against the wall, so got to be the same thing in the next game."

The Heat was short-handed without injured guard Dwyane Wade and the Pistons were short on sympathy, forcing the Heat into 19 turnovers and committing only six of their own.

The Heat couldn't sustain the shadow of an offense without Wade, failing to score its 40th point until there was 5:04 left in the third quarter. By then the Pistons had 58, and the game was spinning well out of Miami's domain.

That the Pistons didn't flinch after a 3-2 series deficit shouldn't be surprising. They fell behind in two playoff series last year and two more this year, but here they are, a victory away from another trip to the Finals.

They'll have to step over another log in the road -- the home team is 74-16 (.822) in Game 7s in league history -- but they don't seem too overwhelmed.

"We're world champions and I think a lot of people forget that we won the championship last year," said guard Richard Hamilton, who had 24 points. "I think we're a confident group of guys."

It's clear what happens to Miami's confidence without Wade, who felt pain in a strained rib muscle after a few on-court drills an hour before game time.

Eddie Jones made one of nine shots, missing all six of his three-point attempts and scoring three points. Damon Jones had seven points in 37 minutes.

Shaquille O'Neal had 24 points and 13 rebounds but also had six turnovers and made two of six free throws.

"He needs to step up and have a big one," Heat Coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Obviously he's got to cut down on the turnovers like everybody else. He's got to be more efficient down there.... We need him to be a dominant guy."

Wallace wasn't dominant, but he had 11 points, nine rebounds and the technical foul, an improvement over his two-point, five-foul, four-turnover, one-technical performance in Game 5.

After that debacle, Wallace said it was hard to "put up with extra help they had out there," and offered hope the league would "send good people" to referee in Detroit. The league office didn't like his choice of words and fined him $20,000.

His effort Saturday wasn't as costly.

"We didn't want to allow anything [bad], getting technical fouls and things like that," Hamilton said. "I think we did a great job of really taking our time and thinking about stuff before we actually do it."

The Heat wanted to create a little history by making the Finals for the first time in 17 seasons of existence but instead set a record for the fewest points scored in its 78-game playoff history.

The Heat had 32 points at halftime and followed it up with 13 in the third quarter before a whopping 21 in the fourth.

Wade probably will play Monday. The Heat would prefer it that way.

"I'm confident that he'll be playing," O'Neal said. "But if he's not, everyone has to step up in Game 7. Including me."

*

About an hour before tipoff, the Palace received a bomb threat via telephone. The call was traced and a 42-year-old suspect from Lapeer, Mich., was arrested. His name was not disclosed in a statement issued by the Auburn Hills Police Department.

*

GAME 7 MONDAY

* What: Eastern finals

* Who: Detroit at Miami

* When: 5 p.m. PDT, TNT

NBA FINALS

East vs. San Antonio

All games 6 p.m. PDT, Ch. 7

* Game 1: Thursday at S.A.

* Game 2: June 12 at S.A.

* Game 3: June 14 at East

* Game 4: June 16 at East

* Game 5: June 19 at East

* Game 6: June 21 at S.A.

* Game 7: June 23 at S.A.

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