Archive for Monday, April 19, 2004

Detroit defense gets job done against Milwaukee

April 19, 2004


— Detroit's defense completely shut down the Milwaukee Bucks.

Richard Hamilton scored 21 points, and the Pistons set a team playoff record with 14 steals in a 108-82 victory over the Bucks on Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round series.

"This is fun," Hamilton said.

One of the best defenses in NBA history stopped the highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference.

Detroit gave up just 84.3 points a game this year, the third-lowest scoring average since the NBA began using a shot clock during the 1954-55 season. It set a league record by holding 11 opponents -- including five straight -- under 70 points and 36 in a row to less than 100.

"I'm real pleased with the way we played," Pistons coach Larry Brown said after leading his NBA-record seventh team into the playoffs. "We rebounded the ball, we shared the ball, and we forced them to turn the ball over, which gives us a chance for some easy baskets. We had a lot of guys playing great basketball."

The Bucks, who averaged 98 points a game, ranked fourth in scoring. They played four close regular-season games against Detroit, losing three of them.

But they didn't play Detroit with Rasheed Wallace, who has made the Pistons' stingy defense suffocating since being acquired Feb. 19 in a three-team trade. The Pistons won 20 of 24 games before the playoffs.

Detroit forced 25 turnovers -- turning them into 28 points -- and had eight blocks. The constant defensive pressure had the Bucks scrambling just to get their shots off.

When the Pistons led 68-51 midway through the third, they had more points off turnovers (10) than Milwaukee had points (eight) in the quarter.

"The game was all about our turnovers and the points we gave them off turnovers," Milwaukee coach Terry Porter said.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday in Detroit.

Desmond Mason led the Bucks with 16 points. Their leading scorer, Michael Redd, scored just 11 points -- nearly 11 below his average -- and went more than 18 minutes without scoring in the second and third quarters. Joe Smith set a career playoff high with 11 rebounds and scored six points.

"We were rushing things, trying to get the lead down, and they took advantage by doing a lot of trapping," Redd said. "We didn't handle it, and we've got to find an adjustment for the next game."

Detroit didn't excel on defense alone.

Rasheed Wallace had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Ben Wallace had 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, and Tayshaun Prince added 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

"When you have three guys with double-doubles," Prince said, "and two of them are Ben and Rasheed, who can cover the paint like that, you know you have a chance to dictate the game."

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