AUBURN HILLS (AP) — 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
yesterday in Game 1 of their first-round series.
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
The Bucks, who averaged 98 points a game, also ranked fourth in
the league 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 game was all about our turnovers and the points we
gave them off turnovers,” Milwaukee coach Terry Porter
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, 10 rebounds and three blocks, Ben
Wallace had 17 points, 14 rebounds, and Tayshaun Prince added 14
points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
“When you have three guys with double-doubles, 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,” Prince said.
The last time the Pistons had three players with double-doubles
in a playoff game was against Boston in 1991, when Isiah Thomas,
Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer did it.
Detroit’s Chauncey Billups had 12 points, and reserve
Corliss Williamson added 12.
The game was such a blowout that “We want Darko!”
chants were heard early in the fourth quarter. Darko Milicic, the
second pick overall in the draft, played just 34 games this season.
He scored one point in three minutes.
The Bucks missed their standout rookie point guard T.J. Ford,
who is out for the season with a bruised spinal cord.
Ford’s backups, Damon Jones and Brevin Knight, played well
late in the regular season, but got in foul trouble trying to
defend Detroit’s guards and running the offense.
“We can’t worry about who we don’t
have,” Porter said.
Detroit’s in-your-face, full-court press — led by
reserve guards Mike James and Lindsey Hunter — gave the Bucks
problems early in the second quarter. The Pistons forced two
turnovers in 18 seconds, leading to two baskets, including Ben
Wallace’s alley-oop dunk that gave them a 35-25 lead.