Wednesday , Jun , 16 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

The Pistons ‘played the right way’

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The Detroit Pistons captured their
first NBA championship since 1990, as they defeated the Los Angeles Lakers,
100-87, in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series to win the set, 4-1.

Chauncey Billups, who finished with 14 points and a team-best six assists in
33 minutes of action in Game 5, was named the MVP of the NBA Finals. He
averaged 21 points and 5.2 assists against the Lakers. The 27-year-old Billups
made 50.9 percent of his shots from the floor, including an impressive 47.1
percent from three-point range.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Billups after being awarded the MVP trophy. “Really,
I’m just speechless, man. I’ve dreamed of this opportunities all my life, and
the way my career had gone, it seemed like my chance was kind of drifting
away. But I never gave up. I never gave up on what I felt I could do. And what
I felt could I do is win the Championship and have a chance to win this trophy
right here. You know, God is good, man. God is definitely good.”

Richard Hamilton played 45 minutes for Detroit in the series-clincher, and
ended with a team-high 21 points to go along with four helpers. The
Connecticut product led the Pistons in scoring against LA, as he averaged 21.4
points in the finals. Hamilton has now won an NCAA title and an NBA
championship.

“Wow, I mean, it’s crazy, it’s unbelievable, man,” said Hamilton. “It all
ain’t sunk in yet. Them guys in that locker room, man, our team, we believe.
They knew our motto all year is we’re not scared and we’re going to work hard
and do everything possible. We have three opportunities to win games at hole
and our fans were unbelievable. If anybody believed we was going to win, it
was our fans. We did everything possible to prove them right.”

Detroit’s head coach Larry Brown, who is 63-years-old and finished his first
season as the general of the Pistons, became the oldest head coach to win an
NBA title and first in history to win an NBA championship and an NCAA crown.
He also coached the 1988 Kansas Jayhawks to the championship.

Brown credits muck of Detroit’s success to the acquisition of Rasheed Wallace,
who was acquired from the Atlanta Hawks on February 19.

“Well, he (Rasheed Wallace) made our whole team better in every way,” said
Brown. “You know, I think most people felt when he came here that he was going
to be a defensive force, and he was in a lot of ways. But his presence
defensively with Ben (Wallace) and Tayshaun (Prince) gave us unbelievable
shot-blocking, quickness, unselfish play. There’s no way I would be standing
up here, or any of us would have been in this kind of situation without him.

Rasheed Wallace battled foul trouble in the decisive contest, as he scored 11
points in just 21 minutes of action. The former Blazer and Hawk averaged 13
points, 7.8 boards and 1.6 blocks against the Lakers. However, Rasheed is
scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and could leave to sign with
another squad in the offseason.

“I have to talk that over with my wife, talk that over with my kids and get
their input,” said Rasheed Wallace when asked about possibly leaving the
Pistons. “If it’s a situation or something here that they don’t like or they
see shaky, I have to take all of that into consideration. But I think, my
family has the biggest say of it all. But don’t get me wrong, I think they are
a great group of guys that I’m playing with. But my family, they are going to
have that last decision.”

Ben Wallace, who averaged 10.3 points and a team-high 14.3 boards in the
postseason, was awesome in Game 5. The 29-year-old forward/center logged 42
minutes, made 8-of-13 shots from the floor and finished with 18 points and a
game-high 22 boards.

“We know coming into the season, we had high expectations,” said Ben Wallace.
“You know, we were coming off a disappointing series against Jersey (Nets),
and we feel like we didn’t compete against that team and we allowed them to
walk all over us. You know, we came in the locker room, we came together and
said it wasn’t going to happen again. If we had to lose, we was going to go
down fighting. And everybody just came in and continued to fight and continued
to work and made good things happen all season.”

The Pistons became the first team to win the three middle games on their
homecourt in the finals since the league went to the 2-3-2 format in 1985.
Detroit, which is 3-0 all-time in Game 5s in the NBA Finals, ended the
postseason with an impressive 12-1 record when it holds its opponent to 80
points or less.

Detroit, which is 8-2 all-time as the host in the championship round, has won
six straight games when it has the chance to eliminate its opponent. The
Pistons, who ended the playoffs with a 10-3 mark as the host, are 15-6 all-
time in games played in the NBA Finals.

The Pistons shocked the world. Detroit dominated the heavily-favored Lakers in
all phases of the game, and would have swept the series if it wasn’t for Kobe
Bryant’s heroics in Game 2. The right team won the championship because it
“played the right way.”

“This is the ultimate in your career,” said Detroit reserve forward Corliss
Williamson. “We worked extremely hard all season long. The guys that have been
around the league for a while, this chance comes along once in a lifetime and
we made the most of the moment.”