Post by Diamond Girl on Jun 10, 2005 0:35:00 GMT -5
Pistons 69 Spurs 84
************************************************************************************************** Billups shines for Pistons without supporting cast
By JIM VERTUNO, AP Sports Writer June 10, 2005 SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Chauncey Billups did just about everything he could for the Detroit Pistons in Game 1. He scored, he defended, he hit free throws.
What he couldn't do was get the rest of the Pistons going.
The MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals scored 25 points in Thursday night's 84-69 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, but was the only Piston who consistently gave Detroit a chance on both ends of the court.
``You know, we got up and got a good lead and kind of forgot about how we got the lead,'' Billups said.
After a rugged seven-game Eastern Conference finals against Miami, Rasheed Wallace promised the Pistons would be full of fury and fire for the championship series. While their defense was typically stout, Billups seemed to be the only one capable of following through on both ends.
``I don't think we, after the first seven, eight minutes, matched their energy,'' Pistons coach Larry Brown said.
Offensively, Billups hit from short range and long, using a nifty fake to freeze the Spurs' Robert Horry before coasting in for a first-half layup.
Defensively, he played a vital role in helping the Pistons keep Spurs guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili from driving to the basket for the first three quarters. Billups scored six points in the fourth to keep the Pistons within striking range until the final minutes, when Ginobili went on a tear and the Spurs pulled away.
But the rest of the Pistons never mustered the same effort.
Richard Hamilton, who was averaging 21.3 points, never got untracked against the Spurs' own brand of rugged defense, finishing with 14. Rasheed Wallace, who dogged San Antonio's Tim Duncan so effectively early, all but disappeared after an opening flurry of points as Detroit took a 17-4 lead.
``We missed so many easy shots,'' said Hamilton, who was 7-of-21 from the field. ``Every shot I took I was comfortable with, I just didn't make them.''
Wallace, one of the league's most volatile and emotional players, took three shots early in the first quarter but managed just three more the rest of the game.
``Rasheed was really aggressive to start the game,'' Billups said. ``We love when he's aggressive. We just try to force-feed him.''
Duncan expects a more rugged battle with Wallace in Game 2.
``He wasn't aggressive but I know he's going to be,'' Duncan said. ``I know he's going to change his mode coming out the next game and he's really going to attack, so we're going to be prepared for that.''
Detroit's Tayshaun Prince said the Pistons were as responsible for taking Wallace out of the game as the Spurs were.
``They didn't do anything, we didn't get him the ball,'' said Prince, who scored 11 points. ``I think Chauncey had a great game today, but the guards took a lot of shots. We kind of went away from Rasheed a little bit.''
By the fourth quarter, the lack of production was clearly frustrating to what looked like a weary Pistons team. Ben Wallace, Detroit's muscular intimidator in the middle, was called for a technical foul when he threw his headband in disgust after he was called for a blocking foul.
By then, Detroit had settled into a slow burn as offensive possessions melted into isolation plays -- with everyone else watching the ballhandler and waiting for him to shoot.
``We really are not a one-on-one team,'' Billups said. ``We don't have that kind of personnel to go one-on-one and break people down and get baskets all night.''
"I don't consider myself as being a heckuva singer. I'm more of a stylist, if you will." Levi Stubbs, Jr.
Post by Diamond Girl on Jun 15, 2005 8:49:45 GMT -5
San Antonio 97, Detroit 76[/size]
By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer June 13, 2005
By the fourth quarter, Rasheed Wallace was reduced to the emptiest of threats.
When the Spurs absently took practice shots after the whistle blew, he leaped and ferociously swatted them away. If only the Detroit Pistons had showed a little of that bravado when the ball was in play.
The defending champions just don't scare the Spurs, and it's showing in an increasingly one-sided NBA Finals. With smooth offensive execution and a rough-edged defensive toughness, San Antonio rolled to a 97-76 victory in Game 2 on Sunday night.
The Pistons arrived in San Antonio wearing the glitzy, wrestling-style title belts created by Wallace. They left with two embarrassing losses to a former champion playing with all the confidence and flair Detroit showed while upsetting the Los Angeles Lakers last summer.
Manu Ginobili scored 27 points and hit four of San Antonio's 11 3-pointers, while Tim Duncan added 18 points and 11 rebounds. The Spurs led by 23 in the third quarter, briefly struggled in the fourth and calmly rolled to a series lead that's been all but insurmountable in league history.
``Every time we made a run, every time we showed we were trying to get back into the game, they made a huge play,'' said Detroit's Chauncey Billups, held to 13 points. ``When you get into a groove like that, it seems like you get all of those kinds of little breaks. We'll be happy to get back to Detroit.''
Though the Pistons cut the Spurs' lead to eight points midway through the fourth quarter, they never seemed in danger. Their execution was too fluid, their shooting too sharp and their home fans too vocal.
Ginobili hit another series of big shots to put it away, while Duncan, Tony Parker and even Bruce Bowen made key contributions. The Spurs held Detroit without a 3-pointer, and they went 28-of-34 on free throws, compared to Detroit's 10-for-16.
That's the San Antonio way: While their opponents boil over in frustration, the Spurs calmly execute a style of play that might not decorate highlight reels, but could lead to a second championship in three seasons.
``We usually don't get much credit since I'm here,'' said Ginobili, who also had seven assists. ``We know how we play, how good we are. We've just got to stay humble. If people don't give us credit, we just don't care. We have to keep working really hard.''
If necessary, the next three games in the best-of-seven series will be played at the Palace of Auburn Hills, starting with Game 3 on Tuesday night. But only two teams have rallied from an 0-2 deficit in the finals -- none since the Portland Trail Blazers in 1977.
Detroit coach Larry Brown could only marvel at the Spurs' offensive execution. Moving the ball along the perimeter with precision, they passed their way to countless open shots while leaving behind panting defenders.
``Every extra pass that needed to be made, they made,'' Brown said. ``They set great screens. They got the ball in positions on the floor where they really hurt us. I didn't think in the first half we really challenged them. It was almost like they were scripting plays.''
San Antonio went 11-for-24 on 3-pointers, compared to Detroit's 0-for-6 performance. Ginobili and defensive specialist Bowen hit four apiece, and Robert Horry added two to tie Michael Jordan's career record for 3s in the finals.
Meanwhile, the Pistons often were terrible with the ball. Leading scorer Richard Hamilton went 5-for-15 while getting hounded by Bowen again, and Tayshaun Prince scored just three points in 33 minutes. Wallace had 11 points while battling foul trouble, leaving reserve Antonio McDyess to lead the team with 15 points.
That frustration boiled into Wallace's phantom blocked shots, as well as technical fouls on Hamilton, Billups and Brown in the second half.
``They had a poor night shooting,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ``I think we played pretty good D, but they also missed some shots. I don't think anything is easy. Everybody is out there working very hard. It's very physical. Bodies are knocking.''
And the Spurs have been tougher in every way. Ben Wallace, the NBA's top defensive player in three of the last four seasons, made little impact on his second straight game, grabbing eight rebounds but making few noteworthy defensive plays.
As he left the SBC Center to board the Pistons' flight back home to Michigan, he vented a bit of the frustration his teammates feel.
``We didn't play any defense,'' Wallace said. ``That's my final question. I'm done.''
Horry appeared in his 193rd playoff game, tying Karl Malone and Danny Ainge for third place in league history. ... In 13 finals games during three trips to the NBA's championship round, the Spurs have never allowed more than 90 points in a game. ... Among the signs in the San Antonio crowd: ``Keep your belts. We'll take the rings.'' ... Detroit has lost 10 straight in San Antonio.
Post by Diamond Girl on Jun 15, 2005 8:57:20 GMT -5
Detroit 96, San Antonio 79
By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer June 15, 2005
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The San Antonio Spurs should have known they were in trouble when they saw the hair.
On his wife's orders, Ben Wallace had his famously shaggy mane teased to its full, glorious height before Game 3 of the NBA Finals -- and the face beneath the 'fro was all grim determination.
``She said, `Let your hair down and go out there and play some basketball, or else you can't eat,''' Wallace recalled.
The Detroit Pistons, a collection of castoffs turned into resilient champions, are at their best when they're playing as if their dinners depend on it. Down 0-2 in the best-of-seven series, they essentially had to win their first game back home. And with a hair-raising passion they lacked last week, the Pistons beat the Spurs 96-79 Tuesday night.
The defending champs got 24 points from a revitalized Richard Hamilton, 20 points and seven assists from big-game guard Chauncey Billups -- and a spur to excellence from Wallace, their defensive leader.
When Wallace stole the game's opening pass and roared downcourt for a dunk, he reminded the Spurs that Detroit's veteran roster still knows what's necessary to win in June. Wallace was all over the court, even by his own athletic standards: He blocked five shots in the first quarter, then added a decisive dunk in the fourth.
``There really wasn't a message,'' Billups said. ``We all knew how big this game was. You know the kind of desperation. You've got to play without fear. It was really just a silent message going around.''
Perhaps that's because the Pistons couldn't hear each other over their deafening home crowd. Detroit's fans were their usual raucous selves, breathing life into their team with every standing ovation.
The Pistons harnessed that energy in the early minutes and again in the fourth quarter, when they put away the game with all the ruthlessness shown by the Spurs last week in San Antonio.
After the Spurs seemed capable of sweeping the finals during two convincing victories in Texas, Detroit trimmed San Antonio's lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.
Game 4 is Thursday night, with Game 5 on Sunday.
Almost nothing about Game 3 resembled the first two, when San Antonio seemed to get every loose ball, every big shot and every call.
Hamilton, hounded into ineffectiveness by Bruce Bowen in the first two games, credited the shift to ``energy.''
``We have to come out here and help each other out,'' he continued. ``We have to come out and hit first. We can't come out and allow them to hit us and react to it. We have to be the ones that are aggressive.''
All three games of the series have been close in the fourth quarter, but Detroit put this one away with nine straight points early in the period. Billups, last season's finals MVP, started the rally with a 3-pointer and a steal for a layup on consecutive possessions.
Tony Parker scored 21 points for the Spurs, who allowed 90 points for the first time in the franchise's three trips to the finals. San Antonio's vaunted defense thrives on momentum, but the Spurs had none of that fuel in Detroit.
The Pistons held Manu Ginobili to seven points and limited Tim Duncan to a 5-for-15 performance on the way to 14 points and 10 rebounds. Though San Antonio led at halftime and kept it close until the fourth, Detroit always seemed to be in control.
``We didn't play well for three quarters, and we were almost tied,'' Ginobili said. ``It's something that we've got to be happy about in some sort of way. ... As a team, we just didn't have that juice, that sharpness that you need to play well on the road. I didn't play well. I don't think any of us played particularly well.''
Ginobili confounded the Pistons in the first two games with his knack for making improbable fourth-quarter shots, but the Pistons were determined to squelch his creative game. They ran at least four defenders at him in single coverage, from lanky Tayshaun Prince to dogged Lindsey Hunter, and gave him few chances to affect the game.
Ginobili might have been mildly hobbled by a collision with Prince in the first minute, but he accepted the blame for having as many turnovers (six) as shots. Hunter, who also slowed Miami's Dwyane Wade in the conference finals, seemed particularly effective in preventing Ginobili's drives to the hoop -- which could mean trouble for the Spurs.
``I don't know if they tried anything different,'' Duncan said. ``Their aggressiveness was up, so that fueled what they were doing.''
Though Robert Horry struggled for the Spurs, he made the 43rd 3-pointer in the NBA Finals, breaking his tie with Michael Jordan atop the career list. ... The Palace crowd booed Ginobili with unusual intensity during the pregame festivities. ... Much of Detroit's musical royalty turned out, including Kid Rock, Anita Baker and Eminem, who frequently jumped to his feet and waved a towel behind the Spurs' bench to cheer on his Pistons.
Updated on Wednesday, Jun 15, 2005 3:36 am EDT
"I don't consider myself as being a heckuva singer. I'm more of a stylist, if you will." Levi Stubbs, Jr.
Post by Diamond Girl on Jun 17, 2005 19:55:45 GMT -5
Spurs look to regroup vs. Pistons in NBA Finals
June 17, 2005 AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) - After a second straight lackluster performance on the road, the San Antonio Spurs are in search of some answers.
In the biggest blowout in the NBA Finals in five years, the Detroit Pistons routed the Spurs, 102-71, on Thursday to pull even at two games apiece.
After winning the first two games of the series by a combined 36 points, San Antonio uncharacteristically unraveled once again in Game Four behind numerous turnovers and a costly scoring drought in the second quarter.
"Well, (Game Four) was a carbon copy of the last game," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "(The Pistons) got even more points off turnovers."
Wilting against Detroit's aggressive defense for a second straight time, San Antonio committed 17 turnovers - leading to 25 points for the opposition. In Game Three, the Pistons had 23 points off of 18 miscues by the Spurs.
"That's probably the most disappointing thing because you can imagine since (last) game that's all we've emphasized is taking care of the basketball, and we came out and did the exact same thing."
After losing by 17 points in the previous game, San Antonio absorbed the most lopsided loss in the Finals since Indiana's 120-87 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Five in 2000.
Despite the two huge losses, the Spurs have enough experience and assurance to realize that the series is just getting started.
"It's just one game," San Antonio point guard Tony Parker said. "We missed a lot of easy shots. You have to give a lot of credit, they just played a great game tonight, and we aren't going to let one game affect our confidence."
The Pistons, meanwhile, moved one win away from matching their own historic feat at home in the Finals.
Last season, the Pistons became the first team in Finals history to win the middle three games at home en route to beating the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. Detroit, which has won the last two games of the series by a combined 48 points, is two-thirds of the way toward having history repeat itself.
In last season's Finals, Detroit won its home games by an average of 13.6 points.
"Yeah, we dominated last year in the Finals at home, played with a lot of energy," Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups said. "It was like a snowball effect, you know what I mean. We had it going the last couple of games, but we got a couple of days off and hopefully we can just continue to be aggressive."