Tayshaun Prince keeps shutting down Kobe Bryant as championship draws near

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.

Los Angeles Lakers 80 Final Recap | Box Score 88 Detroit Pistons
Chauncey Billups, PG 37 MIN | 7-12 FG | 7-9 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 23 PTSBillups is killing it this series. Against an all-time great defensive point guard in Gary Payton, Billups has been shooting incredibly and getting to the line with ease. His assist:turnover ratio is way down, but that’s nitpicking.
Richard Hamilton, SG 44 MIN | 5-11 FG | 7-7 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 17 PTSRip coughed up the ball excessively. But both teams were shooting about 42% , so those weren’t so costly as to write off the value of his efficient scoring.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 40 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-1 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTSPrince continues to provide virtually no offensive value. But that’s ok. He’s doing a masterful job on Kobe Bryant. The Pistons are delighted with Bryant getting his 20 points if he does it on 8-25 shooting and provides nothing else for the Lakers.

Rasheed Wallace, PF 41 MIN | 10-23 FG | 6-6 FT | 13 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 26 PTSSheed didn’t have much success with his outside shot, but he repeatedly punished Karl Malone on the block.

Ben Wallace, C 39 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-14 FT | 13 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTSBen gave up a 36 and 20 on 76% shooting to Shaq. And he missed 10 free throws to boot. Unacceptable.
Corliss Williamson, PF 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS

Lindsey Hunter, PG 11 MIN | 0-1 FG | 4-4 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTSHunter got to the line a couple times, but that’s about all he contributed.
Mike James, PG 6 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTSWith James in the game, Laker guards shot 1-8 and the Detroit outscored LA 9-5.  
Darvin Ham, SF 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS  
Elden Campbell, C 14 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTSCampbell did a slightly better job on Shaq than Wallace, but not much, and he didn’t make the minor positive plays Ben did.  
Darko Milicic, C 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS  
Larry Brown, Head Coach
The Pistons just keep outplaying the Lakers and may well be on the brink of a championship. The Lakers return home after Game 5, but will they bring the Pistons with them?

-Tim Thielke

From the Frontlines

Tayshaun Prince was as junior at Dominguez High School in Compton when the Lakers drafted Kobe Bryant. In the coming years, Prince watched Kobe grow into one of the NBA’s biggest stars.

“Kobe was a guy that I looked up to,” Prince said.

Prince was just a second-year player attempting to make his mark in the league in 2004. Yet, he drew the defensive assignment on Kobe.

How did Prince view such a daunting matchup, covering his idol during the NBA Finals?

“I had nothing to lose guarding him,” Prince said. “Everyone was expecting him to pretty much do his usual.

“This could really be a time to put a stamp on my career.”

In Michigan, Prince did. His defense in the 2004 Finals is a lasting part of his Pistons legacy.

He blanketed Kobe, who shot just 38 percent from the field and 17 percent on 3-pointers. Kobe’s true shooting percentage, 45.6, was his second-lowest in any series during his career.

Sheet 1

But nationally, people still remember these Finals as one the Lakers lost – one Kobe lost for them by feuding with Shaq and shooting too much. That perception implicitly and unfairly discredits what Prince accomplished defensively

Have his and the Pistons’ accomplishments, especially how they shut down Kobe, been overlooked?

“I do believe that,” Prince said.

The reality?

“It was our year,” Prince said. “It was our time.”

-Dan Feldman

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Tags: Ben Wallace Chauncey Billups Corliss Williamson Darko Milicic Darvin Ham Elden Campbell Kobe Bryant Larry Brown Lindsey Hunter Mike James Rasheed Wallace Richard Hamilton Tayshaun Prince

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