Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers: 2004 NBA Finals by the numbers
Kobe Bryant vs. Richard Hamilton
Kobe narrowly outscored Rip in the series but had to take a lot more shots to do it and Hamilton outrebounded him as well. This was supposed to be a big advantage for the Lakers, but Rip’s scoring basically offset Kobe’s and he did it more efficiently, though Rip didn’t shoot particularly well in the series either.
Gary Payton vs. Chauncey Billups
This was the one matchup where the Pistons had the edge coming into the series and Billups didn’t disappoint. He dominated this matchup, scoring 21 ppg to Payton’s four. Payton was 35 years old at this point and chasing a ring, so it’s not like he was in his prime, but the Pistons had a huge advantage in the backcourt.
So the prognosticators got this one wrong and the Detroit Pistons stunned just about everyone by dominating the Lakers all over the court. As someone who hates the Lakers, it could not have been much more satisfying.