Archive for Friday, May 5, 2006

Pistons add hunger to improved team

May 5, 2006

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— The Detroit Pistons and their opponents agree that they're better on offense and just as good on defense this year.

Richard Hamilton said the Pistons also are hungrier after coming within a quarter of repeating as NBA champions last June in Game 7 at San Antonio.

"We're definitely on a mission, and that's a lot different than last year," Hamilton said after scoring a playoff career-high 40 points Wednesday to help Detroit eliminate Milwaukee with a 122-93 victory in Game 5. "We have something to prove. We want to go out and get something, and the guys are focused to go out there and get it."

The Pistons, who had the day off Thursday, will face the winner of the Cleveland-Washington series in the second round.

If the Cavaliers win Game 6 on the road and advance, Detroit could entertain them as early as Sunday. If the Wizards force a Game 7, the Pistons will have about a week off between rounds.

Detroit coach Flip Saunders said his team could take advantage of the break.

"It gives our staff a chance to prepare, even though we don't know who we'll play against," Saunders said. "And it gives our players a chance to get rejuvenated, and catch our breath.

"Two years ago in Minnesota, we had a one-day turnaround to prepare for the Lakers and we lost Game 1. The same thing happened to Detroit last year after beating Miami in Game 7."

The NBA and TV stations carrying the playoffs would love to see Detroit play LeBron James and the Cavs, but Hamilton said both matchups would be compelling.

"It's just two teams that are definitely fighting, with great scorers, LeBron and Gilbert Arenas," Hamilton said. "We just want to sit back and let them beat each other up. It doesn't matter to us who we play.

"It would be fun either way. Me, Ben (Wallace) and Rasheed (Wallace) all came from Washington. If we play Cleveland, it would be exciting because of LeBron."

Hamilton was acquired from Washington in a trade for Jerry Stackhouse, and both Wallaces were with the Wizards earlier in their careers.

Bucks coach Terry Stotts likes Detroit's chances in the next round, and beyond.

"From a basketball standpoint, they've got everything you need to win a championship," Stotts said. "They've been in the finals two years in a row. Defensively they pose a lot of problems, and offensively they have a lot of weapons."

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