Tuesday , Jun , 15 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Pistons try to finish off Lakers

Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) – The Detroit Pistons try to capture
their first NBA title since 1990 tonight, as they welcome the Los Angeles
Lakers to The Palace of Auburn Hills for Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

On Sunday, Rasheed Wallace scored 26 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead
Detroit over the Lakers, 88-80, in Game 4 of best-of-seven series at The
Palace. Chauncey Billups added 23 points for the Pistons, who own a convincing
3-1 lead in the set.

In NBA Finals history, there have been 27 teams that have held a 3-1 series
lead. Every squad that has held that advantage after four games played in the
championship round has gone on to capture the title. However, no home team has
ever won the three middle games since the league went to the 2-3-2 format in

Shaquille O’Neal recorded his playoff highs on the season with 36 points and
20 boards in Game 4’s loss for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant netted 20 points for
LA, but only shot 8-of-25 from the field.

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, 3-1, after four games played in the series.

The last time the Lakers lost in the NBA Finals was in 1991, as LA fell in
five games to Jackson, Jordan and the Bulls.

If Detroit wins tonight, Pistons’ head coach Larry Brown will become the first
person to win a championship as both a collegiate and pro head coach.

Detroit, which is 2-0 all-time in Game 5s in the NBA Finals, is an impressive
12-1 when it holds its opponent to 80 points or less in this year’s
postseason. The Pistons, who are 7-2 all-time as the host in the championship
round, have won five straight games when they have the chance to eliminate
their opponent.

The Pistons, who are 9-3 at home in this year’s playoffs, are 14-6 all-time
in games played in the NBA Finals.

Detroit, which was seeded third in the East, is playing in its fourth 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 swept the Lakers and
in 1990 the Pistons defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in five games.

The Pistons are 2-2 all-time in the NBA Finals when they have the chance to
capture the championship. In 1988, Detroit held a 3-2 advantage over the
Lakers, but they dropped Games 6 and 7 in LA to fall in the series.

LA, which is 3-7 as the visitor in this year’s playoffs, have won two of its
last three games in the postseason when facing elimination. The Lakers are 6-2
in their last eight Game 5s.

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 59-66
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.

If the Lakers win tonight, Game 6 is scheduled for Thursday at the Staples