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2004 NBA Playoffs, 2004 NBA Finals - Lakers vs. Pistons

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2004 Playoffs: 2004 NBA Finals
Los Angeles Lakers 1 vs. Detroit Pistons 4

Game 1: Pistons 87 - Lakers 75 at L.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 2: Lakers 99 - Pistons 91 at L.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 3: Pistons 88, Lakers 68 at Det Game recap & pictures
Game 4: Pistons 88, Lakers 80 at Det Game recap & pictures
Game 5: Pistons 100, Lakers 87 at Det Game recap & pictures

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GAME 1:  Pistons 87 - Lakers 75

Larry Brown did it again.

Leaders: points rebounds assists
Lakers 34: O'Neal 11: O'Neal 4: Bryant
Pistons 22: Billups 8: Wallace 5: Hamilton
  1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
LAL 19 22 17 17 75
Det 22 18 24 23 87
click for Lakers NBA Finals pictures (LA Daily News), (Shaquille O'Neal, Rasheed Wallace)
click for pictures
STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. Larry Brown is the Pistons' coach today but he was the 76ers' coach when they won game 1 of the 2001 NBA Finals against the Lakers at the Staples Center.
Those Lakers had won 11 consecutive games to sweep the Western Conference and that Sixers victory was a surprise for everybody. Three years later Brown did it again.
His Pistons are not the favorites in the 2004 NBA Finals, but they showed they are going to give fight with an 87-75 victory.
Shaquille O'Neal scored 35 points and Kobe Bryant added 25 but no other Laker scored more than 5 points.
Malone and Payton didn't contribute as expected and combined for 7 points, none of them in the first half. With his 4 points Malone had the worst scoring playoff game of his 19-season career.
The other Lakers combined for 9 points. Rush and Fisher couldn't contribute the 3-pointers they usually add and the Lakers shot 3-of-13 from 3 point range.
The Pistons are an excellent defensive team, and they showed it by holding the Lakers to 17 points in each of the two final quarters. Although Shaq scored in 13 of 16 attempts, the Pistons kept the ball away from him most of the time and forced him to commit 6 turnovers. They also made things difficult for Bryant who needed 27 shots to get his points.
Chauncey Billups totally outplayed Payton and it was clear from the beginning when he scored 11 of his 22 points in the first quarter. But with 20 points from Shaq and 12 from Bryant the Lakers were ahead 41-40 at halftime.
Billups added other 9 points and his team outscored the Lakers 24-17 in the third to make it 64-58, and with Shaq out of sight for his teammates the Lakers were never closer than that.
Rasheed Wallace scored 6 of his 14 points in the fourth.
Detroit scoring leader Richard Hamilton, was controlled by Bryant and had just 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting.
It was the first home loss in 10 playoff games for the Lakers who had 16 turnovers and just 15 assists.
To be optimistic you can consider this: those Lakers who lost game 1 against Larry Brown, Allen Iverson and the Sixers in the 2001 Finals went to win four games in row.

The Quotes

Karl Malone (LA): "Four points is terrible. My little boy can do that. "
Shaquille O'Neal (LA): "That's a good team, and we have to rise up and meet that challenge. We know that now."
Rick Fox (LA): "I don't know if we truly respected the fact that team defends like a championship team. We're going to have to shift our mind-set. ... For us to have an opportunity to win, we're going to have to flip hats and try to out-defend this team instead of outscore them."

Highlights

Shaquille O'Neal: 34pts 11reb
Kobe Bryant: 25pts 4reb 4ast 4st
Karl Malone: 4pts 11reb 3ast
Gary Payton: 3pts 3ast
Chauncey Billups (Det): 22pts 4ast 3st
Rasheed Wallace (Det): 14pts 8reb
Richard Hamilton (Det): 12pts 7reb 5ast
Tayshaun Prince (Det): 11pts 6reb 4ast
Ben Wallace (Det): 9pts 8reb

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GAME 2:  Lakers 99 - Pistons 91 OT

When things get tough, it's Kobe time.

Leaders: points rebounds assists
Lakers 33: Bryant 9: Malone 8: Walton
Pistons 27: Billups 14: B.Wallace 9: Billups
  1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot
LAL 18 26 24 21 10 99
Det 16 20 30 23 2 91
click for Lakers NBA Finals pictures (LA Daily News), (Kobe Bryant three point shot, Richard Hamilton)
click for pictures
STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. Kobe Bryant made the biggest shot of his career with a game-tying 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds to play that saved the Lakers from falling into a 0-2 hole. No team has recovered from such a situation after losing both games at home in the NBA Finals history.
Then he took control of the game in overtime with 4 points and 2 assists and the Lakers tied the finals with a 99-91 victory. Kobe scored 14 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and overtime
Shaquille O'Neal had 29 points and 7 rebounds, including the other 6 points of the Lakers in overtime.
The Lakers showed Detroit they can also play an excellent defense when they want to and held them to a .395 percent from the field.
With both teams defending hard the first quarter passed by with a poor 18-16 score. But it also set the stage for the surprise of the day: Luke Walton. Devean George couldn't find his shot so the rookie son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton went to the court for the first time in the Finals and with his timely plays gave the Lakers an emotional lift that kept them in the game. He leaded the team with 8 assists, most of them to find Shaq in unbeatable positions to score, including an alley-up for the last points of the game that almost made the Staples Center explode.
In the second quarter the Lakers got scared when Malone sprained his right knee, the same one that forced him to miss 40 games this season. But he became a Lakers to win a championship and he wants to play. He had a big discussion with trainer Gary Vitti and refused to stay out of the game. By halftime the Lakers were ahead by 8, 44-36.
In the third quarter, with Walton back on the bench the Lakers extended the lead to 10 points, 58-48 with 5:30 remaining, but Billups scored 12 of the Pistons next 18 points and Detroit reduced the deficit to 66-68.
Detroit took the lead 71-68 with 9:36 to play in the fourth period. With Rush, Walton, Fisher and Cook on the floor the Lakers recovered the lead and were ahead 75-71 with 6:37 remaining but the Pistons made a last effort for an 89-83 lead with 47 seconds to go.
Then Kobe missed a 3-pointer but Shaq grabbed the rebound, made a layup and was fouled by Ben Wallace. Then made the free throw to put the Lakers 3 points behind with 35 seconds left.
Billups took a bad shot and missed on the next possession. The Lakers had the ball and needed 3 points to tie and the Pistons chose not to foul anybody, the ball went to Kobe's hands, who measured Hamilton's movements before giving the Lakers another historic moment.
Then came the overtime but the Pistons could not recover from the shock of that 3-pointer and could made only 2 points in those final 5 minutes.
Next 3 games will be played at Detroit and the final 2 games, if needed, at Los Angeles.

The Quotes

Karl Malone (LA): "I'm not trying to show no one how tough I am. I just realize I'm not going to be in this position again so I have to do what I can do. I had to go back in. I didn't think about the rest of the series. I just thought about this game right here. I expect a lot of myself when I'm on the floor."
Kobe Bryant (LA): "As far as my professional career, this is probably the biggest shot I ever hit. ... You can talk about my shot all night long, but without Luke in the game playing as well as he did, we wouldn't be in that position."
Phil Jackson (LA coach): "We always believe that Kobe can make miracle shots, even when things are not going well for him." ... about including Walton: "Maybe insanity is the best excuse, I just needed somebody in there that could move the ball and had the ability to create things off the dribble."
Chauncey Billups (Det): "We had them on the ropes. There's no ifs, ands or buts. We had them on the ropes and they got out."

Highlights

Kobe Bryant: 33pts 4reb 7ast
Shaquille O'Neal: 29pts 7reb 3ast
Karl Malone: 9pts 9reb
Luke Walton: 7pts 5reb 8ast
Gary Payton: 2pts 3ast
Chauncey Billups (Det): 27pts 9ast
Richard Hamilton (Det): 26pts 8reb
Ben Wallace (Det): 12pts 14reb
Rasheed Wallace (Det): 11pts 7reb

Related Jerseys from Adidas, Reebok and Nike:
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