Sunday , Jun , 13 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Lakers need a win in Game 4 of NBA Finals

Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Lakers try to avoid
falling into a 3-1 hole in the best-of-seven NBA Finals tonight, as they visit
the Detroit Pistons for Game 4 of the set at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

After the teams split the first two games of the series at the Staples Center,
the Pistons returned home to capture Game 3 and take a 2-1 lead in the set. On
Thursday, Richard Hamilton poured in 31 points and Chauncey Billups scored 19,
as Detroit rebounded from a disheartening loss on Tuesday to pound the Lakers
88-68 at The Palace.

All-Star Ben Wallace had 11 rebounds, seven points and two steals for the
Pistons, while Rasheed Wallace grabbed 10 boards to go along with three points
for Detroit in the victory.

The Lakers were held under 70 points in the playoffs for the first time in the
shot clock era. In fact, it was the third-lowest point total in an NBA Finals
game since the shot clock’s inception in 1955.

Shaquille O’Neal led the Lakers with 14 points, but ended his record streak of
scoring at least 25 points in 21 straight NBA Finals games. He also racked up
five fouls for the second straight game. Kobe Bryant finished with just 11
points in 43 minutes of action for LA.

Karl Malone played 18 minutes on the sprained right MCL he suffered in Game 2
and scored just five points. Gary Payton, who like Malone joined the Lakers in
the offseason for a chance to win his first NBA title, scored six points in 35
minutes — a high for him in this series.

LA’s head coach Phil Jackson has won nine titles as a head coach, as he guided
Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to six and has coached the Lakers to
three. However, this is the first time that he has trailed the championship
round, 2-1, after three games played in the series.

This is the third time that the Lakers and Pistons have met in the NBA Finals.
In 1988, the Lakers defeated the Pistons in seven games to win the title for
the second consecutive season. In 1989, Detroit won the first of its two
championships as it swept the Lakers.

The Lakers, who are 3-6 as the visitor in this year’s playoffs, have won 13
straight Game 4s in the postseason. The last time LA lost a Game 4 was to the
Suns on May 14, 2000 at Phoenix.

The Pistons are just 1-7 in their last eight Game 4s in the postseason,

Detroit, which is 3-0 all-time in Game 4s in the NBA Finals, is an impressive
11-1 when it holds its opponent to 80 points or less in this year’s
postseason. The Pistons are 6-2 all-time as the host in the championship

The Lakers, who were the second seed in the West, are appearing in the NBA
Finals for the 22nd time since moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in
1961. LA is 9-12 in the championship round and has an overall record of 59-65
in games played in the NBA Finals.

Overall, the Lakers franchise is making their 28th appearance in the NBA
Finals and has won the championship a total of 14 times, as they also won the
title five times in Minneapolis (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954).

In their last three trip to the finals, the Lakers beat the Indiana Pacers in
six games in 2000, defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in five games in 2001 and
swept the New Jersey Nets in 2002. LA was absent from the championship round
in 2003, as it was defeated by the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in six
games in the conference semifinals.

The Pistons, who are 8-3 at home in this year’s playoffs, are 13-6 all-time
in games played in the NBA Finals.

Detroit, which was seeded third in the East, is making its fourth trip to the
NBA Finals. The Pistons were defeated in the championship round in 1988 and
won back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990. In 1989, Detroit beat the Lakers and
in 1990 the Pistons defeated the Portland Trail Blazers.

Game 5 is scheduled for Tuesday at The Palace.