You thought the Pistons missed the playoffs? Not at PistonPowered. We’re honoring the 10th anniversary of the 2004 NBA championship team by examining each postseason game on the corresponding 2014 date. We’ll look back at Detroit’s performances, detail our memories of that time and provide insight from the players and coaches who were Goin’ to Work every single night. So, stick with us this “offseason.” I have a hunch these Pistons will be playing into June.
|Chauncey Billups, PG 36 MIN | 5-11 FG | 7-7 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTSBillups was more of a scorer than a distributor this time, but he played the part well.|
|Richard Hamilton, SG 43 MIN | 11-22 FG | 7-7 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 31 PTSRip outscored Bryant and Shaq combined. The Lakers won’t win many games like that.|| |
|Tayshaun Prince, SF 36 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTSBryant scored one point in the first half. That’s a job well done for Prince.|| |
|Rasheed Wallace, PF 26 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTSSheed wasn’t scoring a whole lot. But double digit boards in just 26 minutes–that’s legit.|| |
|Ben Wallace, C 38 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-4 FT | 11 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTSWhen he’s holding Shaq to 14 and 8, Ben is allowed to struggle on offense as much as he likes.|
|Corliss Williamson, PF 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS|| |
|Lindsey Hunter, PG 16 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTSFive boards and a pair of swats in 16 minutes. Hunter seems to be going all big man on us.|
|Mehmet Okur, C 8 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTSMemo rebounded well, but apart from that, he played another weak game.|
|Mike James, PG 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS|
|Darvin Ham, SF 3 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS|
|Elden Campbell, C 13 MIN | 1-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTSWho knew Campbell had such good hands? He was making it real hard to get the ball in to Shaq.|
|Darko Milicic, C 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTSThis was such a big blowout, the human victory cigar got to play in the Finals.|
|Larry Brown, Head Coach|| |
From the Frontlines
In training camp before the season, Larry Brown’s first with the Pistons, Elden Campbell stayed on one block rather than moving block-to-block as the ball moved side-to-side during a drill.
Brown stopped play and questioned Campbell.
“I’m just doing me,” Campbell said.
“I can’t have you doing you,” Brown said. “I need you do us.”
“We got the picture that it was about team – first, foremost and always,” said Darvin Ham who relayed that anecdote.
Brown was already a Hall of Fame coach before coming to Detroit, but an NBA championship had eluded him. He took the 76ers to the 2001 Finals, but after winning Game 1 in Los Angles, Philadelphia lost four straight to the Lakers. So, the Pistons’ Game 3 victory, putting them up 2-1, brought Brown closer to a title than he’d ever been.
And he got there by staying true to his “play the right way” mantra.
“He didn’t let things go because of somebody’s feelings or something, because he thought in the long run, he was doing a disservice to them and the team by doing that,” said Dave Hanners, an assistant coach on the team now with the Pelicans. “He was a good enough person and he gave back enough that he thought, in the long run, they would all appreciate him because of his toughness, the fact that he didn’t let them get away with things.
“He was the perfect guy for Detroit.”
Soon enough, the players – even Campbell – bought in. Brown’s legacy didn’t end with the 2003-04 season.
Ham, now an assistant with the Hawks, says he’s still motivated by the energy Brown – then 63 – brought everyday. So is Mike James, whom Brown impressed by working out with the team.
“He’s the smallest man in the world, but he has the biggest heart,” James said. “You’d think he’s the toughest person. Every morning, he does his little pushups, and he’d walk around with his chest poked out ready to fight someone. I think we all respected him as a general, and he carried himself as a general. And we could see the confidence in him, and we was able to just fall behind him. And when it was time to go to battle, we knew he was going to prepare us as best as possible.”
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
After falling in heartbreaking fashion in Game 2, the Pistons avoided that trap. They came out in front of their home crowd and dismantled the Lakers by 20 points, plain and simple.
It’s funny, today people trash LeBron James incessantly after pretty much any bad game, but the way the Pistons put the clamps on Kobe Bryant in this series is something to behold. Bryant was a non-factor in Game 3, scoring 11 points on 13 attempts, and through three games the Pistons had baited him into an inefficient volume shooter (28-for-67).
The Pistons had every reason to roll over and give the Lakers a chance in this game and the didn’t do it. That was a sign of a champion, even if it came a few games before they actually were champions.