Pistons stun Lakers in series' first game

Monday, June 7, 2004

LOS ANGELES -- Forget about the NBA Finals being a mismatch or a walkover.

The Detroit Pistons, with their sometimes ugly and often unorthodox style of play, proved they're going to be anything but easy to solve.

Controlling the tempo, uglifying the game and stunning a star-studded crowd, the team that tamed the Eastern Conference pulled off a stunner in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 87-75.

There was no way to make much sense of what happened to the Lakers. Los Angeles got an enormous effort from Shaquille O'Neal -- 34 points on 13-for-16 shooting -- but didn't get the ball into his hands nearly enough.

Kobe Bryant was as much to blame as anyone, playing a poor fourth quarter in which he sapped the energy from the Lakers' only rally by missing consecutive 3-pointers just when it appeared O'Neal was about to bring Los Angeles back from a 13-point deficit.

Chauncey Billups scored 22 points for the Pistons on a night when their usual main offensive weapon, Richard Hamilton, was held to just 12 points. Rasheed Wallace added 14 points and Tayshaun Price had 11 for the Pistons, who showed little joy at the final buzzer.

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