Wednesday , Jun , 01 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Playoff Notebook: Pistons know what it takes

(Sports Network) – Detroit is two wins away from earning the chance to
defend its world championship. The Pistons evened their best-of-seven Eastern
Conference finals set at two games a piece with a 106-96 win over Miami at The
Palace of Auburn Hills.

Richard Hamilton scored 28 points and handed out eight assists in 45 minutes
of action for the defending world champions in Game 4’s victory, while Rasheed
Wallace finished 9-of-13 from the floor and had 20 points for the Pistons.

“Like I said before, it was only a 2-1 series and now it’s even,” said Wallace
after Game 4’s win. “It would have been a different story, I guess a different
atmosphere if it was a 3-1 series, but it’s 2-2.”

Chauncey Billups, who the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals, contributed 17 points
and seven assists in Detroit’s victory, while Tayshaun Prince netted 15 and
grabbed nine boards. All-Star Ben Wallace scored just four points, but pulled
down a game-high 15 rebounds.

“I obviously thought the Pistons played extremely well, particularly in the
second quarter,” said Miami head coach Stan Van Gundy after Game 4’s loss.”I
was very, very disappointed in our defense, particularly in the first half,
just gave up too much going to the basket. We were undisciplined, and for most
of the night, their four main guys that they looked to offensively, we didn’t
do a decent job on any of them. That was disappointing.”

Miami, which won Games 2 and 3 after falling in the opener, was led by Dwyane
Wade in Game 4’s loss, as the All-Star guard scored 28 points and dished out
six assists. Shaquille O’Neal ended with just 12 points and five rebounds in
25 minutes of court time.

Wade was 10-of-22 from the field and had to work hard to earn his points. The
Pistons, who have mainly used Prince to guard the Marquette product, switched
up their defense and defended Miami’s star guard with Hamilton.

“We just wanted to change up,” said Detroit head coach Larry Brown about using
Hamilton on Wade. “We didn’t know if we were going to go the whole game and
you know, we were thinking about whether foul trouble would dictate who would
play him. You know, Lindsey (Hunter) played him for about 15 minutes, as well.
But the kid is a great player. You know, you can’t give him the same look. At
the end, he almost brought them back by himself.”

With this series now a best-of-three set, the Pistons have some recent history
on their side as they have won six straight playoff series when the set is
knotted at 2-2. Detroit has also won 21 of its last 23 playoff series when
winning Game 1.

“Well, we’re in much better shape than we were after the other night (Game 3’s
loss), said Brown. “It’s a three game series with them, home-court advantage.
I think we all felt that this would be a great series, and hopefully that’s
the case.

“But we won down there, we had a chance to win both games down there, but
there’s no doubt in my mind, we’re going to have to play our best game. We’ve
got to figure out a way to win one game on the road, and then take care of our
homecourt. That’s the only way I can look at it. I think we all feel a lot
better than we felt after the other night.

With the rumors of coach Brown’s possible departure at the end of the season
looming, Detroit was still able to take care of business in a must-win
situation in Game 4. The Pistons know what it takes to win in the postseason,
and they proved it during their clutch victory.