Wednesday , Jun , 15 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Playoff Notebook: Home Sweet Home in NBA Finals

(Sports Network) – The defending world champion Detroit Pistons came up big
in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, as they defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 96-79, at
The Palace of Auburn Hills. With the victory, the Pistons made it a 2-1 series
in the best-of-seven set.

San Antonio won Games 1 and 2 at the SBC Center in convincing fashion. The
Spurs captured the opener 84-69, and took a 2-0 lead with a 97-76 victory in
the second game of the set.

The Pistons, who became the first team to score 90 or more points against the
Spurs in the NBA Finals, got back to playing their style of play in Game 3.
They had the intensity on defense that they lacked in the first two games, and
on offense everyone was involved.

“Well, I think we figured out how hard we have to play,” said Detroit head
coach Larry Brown after Game 3’s victory. “You know, their energy has been
incredible, and I don’t think we realized we were in the Finals against a
great team that’s unbelievably well coached. I really believe Ben (Wallace)
started us off, he gets a dunk and a three point play and a steal and he had
five blocks in the first quarter. I think that really gave us a lift.

“And then, you know, just before the end of the third quarter we got an
unbelievable run, (Antonio) McDyess and Lindsey (Hunter), and from then on, we
just played at an unbelievably high level. You know, it’s one game. Now that
game is over. I think our guys have unbelievable respect for them and realize
it’s going to take our very best to make this a competitive series.”

Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace, who was upset with the Detroit’s
defensive effort in Game 2, set the tone for the third game of the series. He
collected a game-high 11 rebounds, blocked five shots and gave the Pistons
some much needed energy and enthusiasm on both ends of the court. Wallace, who
is not known for his offensive game, also contributed 15 points on 7-of-10
from the floor.

“We needed to do something,” said Ben Wallace. “We had a sellout crowd here
waiting to cheer for something. We knew we had to come out early and give them
something to cheer for and get them excited, and also get everybody else
motivated and ready to play. Once we got the crowd into it, we were able to
play off of them.”

Detroit guards Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton also had strong
performance for the defending champions in Game 3. Billups, who was the MVP of
the 2004 NBA Finals, scored 20 points and dished out a game-high seven
assists, while Hamilton netted 24 in 43 minutes of action. Forward Antonio
McDyess played a big part in the win, as the veteran came off the bench and
contributed 12 points in 19 minutes of court time for the Pistons.

San Antonio was led by guard Tony Parker in the loss, as he scored a team-high
21 points and handed out four assist. Tim Duncan netted 14 and pulled down 10
rebounds, while Manu Ginobili, who had averaged 26.5 points per game in the
first two contests against Detroit, turned the ball over six times and was
held to just seven points in 29 minutes of court time.

“We are a little bit disappointed,” said Parker after Game 3’s loss.
“Obviously Detroit played great basketball today, tonight. We just have to
make sure we pay attention on details, too much turnovers, they played very
aggressive and very physical tonight. The end of the third quarter, the last
minute, really killed us and a change of momentum.”

Ginobili, who had registered six rebounds, 4.5 assists and had made 66.7
percent of his attempts from the field in Games 1 and 2, was not able to play
his game in the third contest. Detroit played excellent team defense and was
very physical with Ginobili, who was only 2-of-6 from the field in the loss.
Holding Ginobili in check made it more difficult for the other San Antonio
players to get open looks at the hoop, and it allowed the Pistons to get right
back into the series.

“Well, I don’t know if it was holding Ginobili,” said Brown. “I think as a
whole, you know, we defended great. We got 23 points off turnovers, we did a
great job on the boards. You know, I think for the most part, our defense was
set a lot better. You know, I think if you noticed in the two ballgames there,
they controlled everything. We didn’t get to the line very much. We didn’t
shoot a good enough percentage to keep them out of a running game and, you
know, they really spread us out tonight.

“You know, we got back defensively. We were set a lot better. Then by us
having some shots blocking, you know, maybe dribble penetration is not as
evident as it was in the other games.”

The Pistons, who are 9-2 all-time as the host in the NBA Finals, are
attempting to become only the third team in NBA history to rally from an
0-2 hole in the Finals to win a best-of-seven set. The 1969 Celtics and
1977 Trail Blazers are the two clubs that came back to win the title after
losing the first two games of the series.

Even though the Pistons were down 0-2, they came out in front of their home
crowd and played their type of game and showed why they are the defending

“I never felt like I was out of the series,” said Wallace. “In the first two
games, we really didn’t show up playing the kind of basketball that we’re
accustomed to playing. Tonight (Game 3), we came out and played a little bit
better. I still think we’re a better team than the way we played tonight. We
could still go out there and play better basketball.”

Detroit is a great all-around team, and it would not be a surprise if it
captures Games 4 and 5 at The Palace and heads back to San Antonio with a 3-2
series lead. So far, the home team has ruled this championship set.