June 2006 Pistons Articles *Frequent Updates*

Discussion in 'Pistons Archive' started by LanierFan, Jun 1, 2006.

  1. LanierFan

    LanierFan Bench Warmer

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    [Associated Press]

    Prince, Defense Save Pistons' Season
    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal was about to throw down another backboard-shaking dunk. Ben Wallace wasn't having it. The 6-foot-7 Wallace leaped and stuffed Shaq's slam - forcing a jump ball, putting the 7-1 O'Neal on his back and sparking Detroit's defense that refused to let the Pistons' season end.

    "It was a big play - a momentum-changer," Wallace said of the third-quarter block.

    Foul! Heat Free-Throw Shooting Dooms Them
    The Heat were 6-for-20 on free-throw attempts Wednesday, a debacle that played a huge role in the Detroit Pistons' season-saving 91-78 win. It trimmed Miami's series lead to 3-2 - and ensured Game 6 will be played in South Florida on Friday night.

    "There's pressure on them now," said Pistons guard Chauncey Billups, who was 11-for-11 from the line.

    [Detroit Pistons.com]

    Pistons stay alive, force Game 6 vs. Heat
    The Pistons again were rescued by Tayshaun Prince and their defense in a convincing 91-78 victory over the Miami Heat, who are still one win away from the NBA Finals.

    Prince scored a playoff career-high 29 points for the top-seeded Pistons, who closed the series deficit to 3-2 with a performance that somewhat silenced the cynics who said their run was done.

    [Fox Sports]

    MIKE KAHN: Pistons live to play another day
    Chauncey Billups finally showed all the toughness and leadership he had previously shown the past two seasons when the Pistons won the East, scoring 17 points, doling out 10 assists and grabbing five rebounds. And the recipient of so many of those assists was the versatile Tayshaun Prince, who was scoring from all over the floor. And although Rip Hamilton had yet another rough shooting night (7-of-21), he did add 10 rebounds to go with those 16 points, and Antonio McDyess was huge coming off the bench with 12 points and six rebounds.

    [ESPN]

    Daily Dime: Pistons regaining lost identity
    John Hollinger: Had Detroit made its regular-season rate of 72.7 percent, the Pistons would have made only 19 of those 26 free throws, and would have ended up with 87 points. Thus, once we account for the uncharacteristic free-throw performances by both sides, what was a comfortable Detroit win becomes an 87-86 Pistons squeaker.

    Obviously, that bodes poorly for Detroit in Game 6. Yes, they're still alive, and that was the objective tonight. But it's hard to argue that the Pistons' recent offensive woes are solved when their three key players (Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace) shot 13-for-44. Plus, the team once again limped home with an 18-point fourth quarter -- six of which came on intentional fouls by the trailing Heat.

    [SI.com]

    IAN THOMSEN: Win or lose vs. Heat, Pistons must find themselves
    Win or lose Game 5 on Wednesday, the Pistons are a contender in transition. While trying to figure out who they are, they also are forced to try to fend off Miami for the Eastern crown, but the truth is they can't accomplish the latter without resolving the former. No matter how the series plays out, things in Detroit are going to change -- whether it takes place miraculously over the next week or during the sober offseason to follow.

    PHIL TAYLOR: Pistons have gone from selfless to selfish in months
    Maybe the Pistons are out of sorts because they realize that they've lost their edge, that this time they won't be able to flip a switch and escape the jam they've created for themselves. Maybe it's just too much to expect a team to maintain indefinitely the kind of all-for-one esprit de corps that they once had. But it's sad to see them go out this way, exchanging looks of annoyance with each other when a pass goes astray, searching individually for someone to blame instead of searching collectively for a solution to their problems. They are the Pistons, after all, and we remember when they were so much bigger than that. If only they did.

    [Detroit Bad Boys]

    Pistons-Heat: Game 5
    Hopefully Detroit employs the "no layups allowed" rule. Game 5 is about to tip off — leave your in-game comments here. After each quarter (or whenever something remarkable occurs), Matt and I will post our own observations below.

    The national media weighs in
    As you'd expect, the Pistons are big in the national media today, and it's not pretty. Here's a quick run-down of some of the more notable articles:

    Antonio McDyess is not a butthole
    I'm sure there are more than a few casual Pistons fans who don't recall what type of player McDyess was before he signed with the Pistons. We know him now as a sweet-shooting big man who can consistently score from 15-18 feet out. But that's not what made him the second overall draft pick in the 1995 draft ...

    No, before he was known for his reliable jumper, McDyess was one of the most explosive players in the game.

    [Check out this video of vintage Dice. Ouch.]

    [Need4Sheed.com]

    Pistons 91 Heat 78
    I believe this is the play that turns this series around. Momentum shift, it's not over.......

    [Miami Herald]

    Miami hits roadblock
    Game 5 would have been an extra satisfying win for the Heat, which lost to the Pistons in Miami in Game 7 last season. But a Game 6 win now becomes nearly mandatory if the Heat is going to make its first trip to the NBA Finals.

    ''They came out like we knew they were going to come out, pressuring and playing with a lot of energy,'' said Dwyane Wade, who was 11 of 20 from the floor for 23 points in 45 minutes. "We took the first couple punches and we still were there. But tonight they beat us to a lot of loose balls, a lot of tip-out rebounds at key times. Give them credit. They played hard. They played like a desperate team.''

    DAN LeBATARD: Shaq, Heat get stuffed; focus shifts to Friday
    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- There are certain natural phenomena that can't be stopped, slowed or detoured by one human body. An ocean tide. A rock slide. Shaq's backside. Shaquille O'Neal getting the ball under the rim is just about the surest thing ever in basketball. One bounce? That's thunder's warning before lightning.

    So you knew something wasn't right in Wednesday's second half when O'Neal began to uncoil and Ben Wallace suddenly remembered, for the first time this series, that he's supposed to be the world's best defender. With the aid of a trampoline, a ladder and a jet pack during this 91-78 Detroit victory, Wallace climbed up into the atmosphere and came down cleanly with an angry palm upon the basketball.

    No late heroics this time
    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The critical moments of the fourth quarter are typically prime time for Dwyane Wade. But on Wednesday night he sat on the bench, his half-drawn eyelids on the verge of closing. He looked weary, beat, mortal.

    Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals belonged to the Pistons 91-78. There would be no heroics from Wade. No levitations. No circus shots. No jaw-dropping spectacle swishes from impossible angles.

    Wade just sat there, wilted by his frustration.

    GREG COTE: After Game 5 loss, the pressure has moved from Pistons to Heat
    The number of teams in this playoff series that should be desperate or at least play like it officially doubled here Wednesday.

    That's all that Detroit's 91-78 Game 5 victory did.

    But that was an awful lot.

    For the most part, Shaq gives credit
    Shaquille O'Neal was sitting at his locker after the Heat lost 91-78 on Wednesday night to the Detroit Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, and a reporter asked O'Neal about a play in which Pistons center Ben Wallace blocked O'Neal's shot.

    ''That was a foul, young lady. You know that was a foul. Don't ask dumb questions,'' O'Neal said.

    That likely was the only time O'Neal refused to give the Pistons credit.

    Detroit's forward delivers a sparkling effort
    ''It was 79-76 and the biggest play of the night was when Shaquille blocks a shot and Tayshaun hits a three,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said.

    It's a pattern Riley saw all night as Prince filled the box score, playing a team-high 43 minutes 7 seconds, grabbing seven rebounds and hitting the Pistons' only pair of three-pointers.

    ''He's unorthodox,'' Riley said. "He has a way about him that it doesn't look like he's doing something and before you know it, you look at the stat sheet and he's got 29. The shot, he puts it behind him and winds up, it's like snow falling off a bamboo leaf, he's so smooth. . . . He had a monster game and we have to find a better answer for him.''

    [Right now there are 1.2 billion Chinese nodding with perfect understanding. The rest of us? We'll just have to wonder what the hell Riley's talking about.]

    [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

    IRA WINDERMAN: Wade, O'Neal bottled up as Pistons defense yields little room
    In a venue where the Heat needed the very best of guard Dwyane Wade and center Shaquille O'Neal, it received something just short of that.

    After averaging 30.8 points on .695 shooting in the series' first four games, Wade closed with 23 on 11-of-20 shooting. After scoring in double figures in each of the previous fourth quarters, he finished with six points in Wednesday's final period.

    After bulling past Detroit's front line the previous four games, O'Neal returned to the early foul trouble of previous series and closed with 19 points and six rebounds in 31 minutes.

    DAVE HYDE: No reason to panic
    And so not every night ends with O'Neal being completely unstoppable. Not every night ends with Dwayne Wade being Superman. Not every playoff night, on the road, against a tough team facing the season's guillotine can end with the Heat walking off the court happy.

    This was the Pistons' night. That's all. The series is 3-2 now. That's it.

    There's no reason for Heat fans to worry, panic, doubt, fear or even think of bringing up all those heartbreaking Heat endings to all those heartbroken Heat seasons. Well, OK, you can think about that last part.

    [Palm Beach Post]

    Blocked party
    The Heat, needing a victory Wednesday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills to clinch its first NBA Finals berth in franchise history, lost 91-78 to the rejuvenated Detroit Pistons, sending the series back to Miami for Friday's Game 6.

    Now, with Game 7 scheduled for Sunday at Detroit, the Heat's 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals seems shaky. But don't mention the "P'' word in the Heat's locker room.

    GREG STODA: Pistons find a way to slow Wade, creep back in
    The Pistons were especially intent on occupying Wade's perimeter space on the court whenever Miami set up a half-court offense. It was as though Detroit finally realized it couldn't do anything with Wade once he had the basketball with his motor running, so it jumped a big defender at him on almost every catch he made on either wing near a sideline.

    Inside the game
    Dead air: Before each game in the Eastern Conference finals the coaches appear before the media. It is a ritual that comes with formality peculiar to the post-season — printed transcripts of every question and answer, boom microphones dangled in front of reporters so everything can be heard live on the NBA Network, banks of TV cameras on a raised platform at the back of the room.

    It is a sign of how this series has gone for Detroit coach Flip Saunders that he fielded no questions whatsoever before Wednesday's Game 5.

    Saunders was on stage, right on time, and perfectly willing to cooperate.

    "Nobody's got anything?" Saunders asked after a few awkward moments of silence. "Fine with me."
  2. LanierFan

    LanierFan Bench Warmer

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    [Detroit News]

    A pulse
    "Hopefully, this win gives us some momentum going into Miami," said Tayshaun Prince, who had 29 points, a career high in the playoffs, on a night when the three top scorers were ice cold. "Miami plays well on the road. I think the pressure is on both us and them now."

    It wasn't the resounding, confidence-eroding pounding the Pistons would have liked to inflict. But for three quarters, they looked more like their old selves and, when things tightened up in the fourth quarter, they didn't buckle.

    "They took their defense up another level, they just did," Heat coach Pat Riley said, "and it was very intense."

    Sheed steps up to Zo
    Rasheed Wallace tweaked his ankle again in Game 5, and he still can't find the range on his jump shot (seven points, 3-for-11 shooting), but he was there for his teammates early in the game.

    Tayshaun Prince was fouled as he dunked on Alonzo Mourning . Prince hung on the rim briefly until traffic cleared underneath. He inadvertently brushed Mourning with his feet. Mourning shoved Prince while he was still hanging.

    "I ain't cool with him," said Wallace, who immediately got into Mourning's face. "I seen him try to push on Tay and I can't have that. "There's no pushing on my man, my teammates."

    When asked what he said to Mourning -- besides "Calm down," which the television broadcast caught -- Wallace said, "Nothing worth repeating."

    BOB WOJNOWSKI: It's not over!
    AUBURN HILLS -- Every time it seemed the end was nudging near, the Pistons repelled it. Every time it seemed Dwyane Wade would pull out more ridiculous magic, Tayshaun Prince responded.

    So, yes, in answer to the question, in answer to many questions, there will be a fight after all. It was good to see, a spirited first response, as the Pistons regained their edge and took one giant step away from the ledge.

    Stern's edict haunts Pistons
    AUBURN HILLS -- Before you realize why Joe Dumars did the right thing in hiring Flip Saunders last summer and installing a more offense-driven approach to the team, understand this isn't about conspiracy theories or plots to undermine Pistons basketball as you've come to know it.

    The plain truth is NBA commissioner David Stern wanted the game changed after the Pistons won the title in 2004.

    He tweaked the rule book to facilitate more offensive flow. He stopped all the bumping and grabbing on and off the ball. He opened the floor up for quick and powerful players such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and countless others who will carry the league's marketing banner into the future.

    He did it because he felt the game had grown stagnant, and that oppressive defenses such as the Pistons' choked the life out of it. He hated the isolation plays that were bringing action to a standstill. More importantly, he noticed fans -- who filled the arenas and watched on television -- were starting to hate it, too.

    Scoring sells, and Stern set out to loosen the shackles on offense. In so doing, he essentially legislated against lockdown, physical defensive teams such as the Pistons and Spurs.

    To this day, he does not apologize for it, nor will he undo the changes.

    [Detroit Free Press]

    MITCH ALBOM: Two to go!
    Now, to be honest, if you're a Pistons fan, you're torn this morning between being glad and mad. You're happy the team is still alive in these Eastern Conference finals, but you believe if it had played like this in any of those losses, it wouldn't have been on the brink of elimination in the first place.

    Here was the energy that had been missing in Games 1, 3 and 4. Here was the extra pass, the whipping of the ball to the other side for an open look. Here was the swarming defense.
    And, yes, here was some balance to the foul calls. The Heat shot 47 free throws in Game 4 and just 20 in Game 5, and it missed 14 of those. You can't count on that happening again.

    So, yes, it was a fine victory, a continuation of the Pistons' tradition of staving off the killer's blade, which now stands at 8-1 in games in which they faced elimination since 2004.

    But it should not take the feel of a wall against your back to make you play your best. As Wallace said, "It was easy to come out with energy tonight."

    DREW SHARP: Pistons run past Heat in Game 5
    Desperation can spawn energy, producing a little extra fuel where fatigue had taken up residence. And there's nothing more desperate than the realization of a season almost over and a dream almost dashed.

    The Pistons had been bogged down by their own self-loathing. They finally shut up and played their game Wednesday night, defeating the Miami Heat in Game 5, 91-78. They moved the ball offensively, moved their feet defensively, and in the process, they moved all the pressure in the Eastern Conference finals onto Miami.

    McDyess' 10 points key in second half
    McDyess helped the Pistons hold on to their lead at the start of the fourth quarter, hitting Detroit's first three buckets from the field to keep the Heat from whittling away the eight-point advantage Detroit enjoyed at the beginning of the quarter.

    His two 16-footers served as bookends to his most powerful statement -- a rebound dunk off a Lindsey Hunter miss.

    Miami never got closer than three points for the rest of the quarter.
  3. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    [Hoopsworld]


    Motown Soundtrack: All or nothing at all
    by Adriano Albuquerque

    While the Detroit Pistons finally looked like themselves on Wednesday’s win, 91-78, over the Miami Heat in Game 5 – series now 3-2 to Miami –, they still didn’t look like a team that could come back from a 1-3 disadvantage in the Conference Finals. Rest assured, if this game was played at the AmericanAirlines Arena, it’s doubtful that the P’s would’ve come out with a victory. Motown’s Finest will have to work a lot if they wish to keep their unbeaten Game 6 streak alive.



    [The Oakland Press]


    Pistons breathe new life into a season on brink
    by DANA GAURUDER

    AUBURN HILLS - Whether it was their last stand or the building block toward a spectacular comeback, the Pistons breathed some life into their season Wednesday night.

    Though their shooting still left plenty to be desired, they played with energy and determination rarely seen during this often-maddening postseason. Tayshaun Prince scored a playoff-career high 29 points as the Pistons staved off elimination with a 91-78 win over Miami in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference fi nals at The Palace.



    Saunders: No mutiny or friction in locker room
    by DANA GAURUDER

    AUBURN HILLS - Dissension? No. Frustation? Plenty. The Pistons never expected to be confronted with two win-or-go-home games against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference semifinals and three do-or-die games against Miami in the conference finals.

    Flip Saunders says there's no mutiny in the locker room between the players and the coaches or friction amongst the players.
  4. LanierFan

    LanierFan Bench Warmer

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    [Sports Inferno]

    [Am I the only one who thinks this headline could have been re-worded a bit?]

    TERRY FOSTER: Pistons Ride Big Ben's Muscle
    If the Pistons are to pull off the improbable they must do it one play at a time, one basket at a time and piece together all of their mulligans in the span of 48 hours. And Wallace must bring his hustle on from the opening minute. He has been criticized for uninspired play and rightly so. He has not brought it every moment. He did Wednesday and that is exactly what the Pistons need from him on the road.
  5. G-man

    G-man Starter

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  6. jammertime

    jammertime Starter 1x Fantasy Champion Forum Donor

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    That dude has a major axe to grind.

    Show me a championship team that hasn't had lucky bounces or good luck on the injury front.

    The Pistons can't control the fact that they play in the East, which many consider inferior to the West (although with the likes of Shaq, Wade, Labron, Redd, Arenas, Carter, etc. the balance of power is shifting).

    The Pistons were also 25-5 against the West this season, but I guess that was a fluke as well.

    Please. That article has more holes in it than swiss cheese. There's so much BS in there that he should start a fertilizer business.
  7. Slippy

    Slippy All-Star Administrator Forum Donor

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    [mlive.com]

    Pistons win game 5 to stay alive
    By LARRY LAGE
    The Associated Press
    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Tayshaun Prince scored a career playoff-high 29 points to lift the Detroit Pistons to a 91-78 win Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, keeping the Pistons alive. The Miami Heat now lead the best-of-seven series, 3 games to 2.

    Wallace's defense, Prince's offense spark Pistons
    By A. Sherrod Blakely
    AUBURN HILLS -- Ben Wallace had heard the rumblings about his demise, about how his game wasn't what it once was.
    Well, for one night at least, Wallace looked like his old self, setting the tone from the outset as the Detroit Pistons kept their season alive with a 91-78 win against the Miami Heat on Wednesday in the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat lead the series, 3-2.

    Heat not surprised that Pistons bounced back

    AUBURN HILLS -- The Miami Heat didn't expect it to be easy.

    Not in a possible playoff series close-out game against a battle-hardened Detroit Pistons team that has been to the last two NBA Finals. And definitely not before a frenzied crowd at The Palace, where the Pistons had the best home record in the league this season.


    McDyess won't allow sprained wrist to sideline him

    By Bill Khan

    AUBURN HILLS -- Antonio McDyess has been seeking an NBA championship ring for too long to let a sprained wrist keep him out of the lineup.
    "If it ain't broke, I'll play," he said.
    One game after injuring his left wrist, McDyess provided a huge lift off the bench for the Detroit Pistons as they stayed alive in the Eastern Conference finals with a 91-78 victory against the Miami Heat Wednesday night at The Palace

    Prince carries Pistons again
    By Ansar Khan
    AUBURN HILLS -- Miami Heat coach Pat Riley called it the biggest play of the game.
    It's doubtful anybody on either team would dispute that.
    Detroit Pistons guard Richard Hamilton drove the lane and tried to put up a jump shot, only to have Miami center Shaquille O'Neal block it. The ball, however, landed in the hands of Tayshaun Price, who was standing just outside the 3-point line. Without hesitation, Prince drained a 3-pointer, giving the Pistons a six-point lead (82-76) with 4:28 to play in the fourth quarter.
  8. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    [Detroit Bad Boys]



    Insider look at the Palace pressure

    [After last night's game, I emailed Dave Wieme, Palace Sports & Entertainment Director of Strategic Communications, to find out what the mood was like in the offices at the Palace — whether everyone was on edge or taking the series in stride.
    Dave replied back with an email that he sent out to the entire [...]



    [Need4Sheed]


    he Opposite Can Be Exhausting

    As most of you know I am using The Opposite Strategy also know as The Costanza Theory, to do my part to get the Pistons some must needed playoff wins. Here was yesterday's rundown.

    roscoe36: this is really cute. Natalie is a super fan.



    [ESPN]


    Friday should decide Flip's fate
    By Jason Whitlock
    Special to Page 2

    Friday's Game 6 should decide Flip Saunders' fate.

    If the Pistons lose in Miami and are eliminated from the playoffs in six games, Saunders should lose his job. If the Pistons force a seventh game in the Eastern Conference finals, then Saunders should stay on as coach of the Pistons regardless of what happens the rest of the playoffs.
  9. LanierFan

    LanierFan Bench Warmer

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    [DetroitPistons.com]

    DAVE WIEME: Noisily into the night
    We go all the way down to the floor level and Matt wheels the box out of the elevator. I know it is the Eastern Conference trophy in the box and the NBA has sent it along, just in case it should be awarded tonight. It was 85 degrees outside and about 80 degrees inside, but I suddenly had a chill and broke out into a cold sweat. There was a real possibility that we were going home tonight…that we were done for the season…that tomorrow morning, the summer starts.

    [Detroit Free Press]

    DREW SHARP: Pistons lore should deep-six the Heat
    MIAMI - They're just a little antsy down here and it has nothing to do with the official start of hurricane season. There's another storm brewing that has south Florida looking for a little reassurance.

    It's rated a Category Six, as in Game Six.

    The Pistons don't lose them.

    Simply forcing Game 7 will mean redemption
    If the Pistons win tonight in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against a Miami team that has dominated them for most of this series, if they force a winner-take-all Game 7 at The Palace on Sunday, then a lot of perceptions from the past two weeks become obsolete.

    This team's legacy is not yet written. Tonight will go a long way in determining just what kind of tone its story deserves.

    Pistons fans going full throttle
    Tonight in Miami, Detroit's home team won't hear the explosive joy of The Palace crowd, but it will receive showers of prayers.

    Invocations both serious and silly have emerged as one of dozens of personal rituals by passionate Pistons fans are evoking in the desperate hopes their beloved basketball team will not be playing its last game of the season tonight. Pistons fans want a win, and they're doing, wearing and saying anything they can to will their team to Game 7.

    [Chicago Tribune]

    SAM SMITH: Pistons' Prince has this view - Pressure is on them and us
    The Detroit Pistons say the pressure is on the Miami Heat now, because if the Heat doesn't win Game 6 of the Western Conference finals at home Friday, it will face a deciding game Sunday in Detroit.

    "Everyone knows any team in the league likes to play from in front," Ben Wallace said Wednesday after his dramatic block on Shaquille O'Neal helped ignite an unusually phlegmatic Pistons defense.

    Pistons now shift heat to Miami
    Meanwhile, the Western Conference rivals seem to be rooting for the Heat. Mostly because whomever wins the West gets home-court advantage for the Finals over Miami.

    Also, though no one on either the Phoenix Suns or the Dallas Mavericks would say it, both teams believe they can run on Miami and are too quick for the Heat, leaving O'Neal no one to guard.

    [L.A. Times]

    Prince Carries A Heavy Load for the Pistons
    He was a star at Kentucky, but many NBA scouts couldn't see past his slight build, his 'long arms that seem to sway like a wooden puppet's from his thin, high shoulders,' as Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom once noted.

    Nearly two dozen teams put him through pre-draft workouts.

    Prince arrived in Detroit after a particularly grueling session in Chicago, where the Bulls had him dunk medicine balls one after another until he could do it no more, according to Kander, the Pistons' strength and conditioning coach.

    'He came in and he could hardly move,' Kander said, recalling Prince's aching back and burning hamstrings. 'The very first play, a guy nailed him in the back and he fell to the floor. So your first thought is typical: You look at him and you think, 'Oh, God, this guy's not going to be able to get up.' He went and dominated the workout, with his back sore, dragging a leg, all that.

    'Forget all the physical testing that we do. Here's a guy that pushed himself through. He got nailed into the basket on one play, got right up, went out there again, was attacking, was aggressive.'

    [Miami Herald]

    The danger zone
    ''There is a danger here,'' Riley said. ``You're going against a team that has had a stronghold on this conference for the last three or four years. It's not going to be easy. When we went ahead 3-1, you get three bites of the apple, basically. Usually, on the first one, you try to gobble the whole thing, but we didn't. We get opportunity No. 2 at home.''

    Nobody around the Heat wants Miami's fate to come down to opportunity No. 3.

    Catchphrase now has urgency: It's the Heat's time
    Heat seasons have ended in home playoff losses in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004 and 2005. That's a lot of heartache bunched together, a lot of listening to opposing players fill the silence of your emptying arena with their echoing cheers. Miami franchise history is potholed with almosts and if-onlys. The bounces and cursed luck against the nemesis Knicks. The near-deals (Juwan Howard, Tracy McGrady) that fell through. Zo's illness. Wade's injury in this round a year ago.

    Tonight can make everything better.

    Mavericks' owner wants the Heat
    "Everyone in Dallas is rooting for the Heat for two reasons," Cuban, whose team is favored to beat Phoenix in the Western finals, relayed via e-mail. "We want to see Shaq in the Finals again, and it gives the Mavs home-court advantage."

    Why does Cuban want to see Shaquille O'Neal in the Finals? "Great for TV ratings. We can play our Shaq Albert video and crack Shaq up during the games. Shaq and I can give hand signals and see if we get caught. Most importantly, if the Mavs make it past the Suns, it would be great basketball between two great teams."

    _ Sightings: Kings forward Ron Artest wandering around crobar nightclub shirtless, women gravitating toward him .... Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups and Lindsey Hunter dining at separate tables at Prime 112. (Several Pistons rejected invitations to go clubbing on South Beach - unlike Vince Carter, who frolicked at B.E.D. past 3:30 a.m. the night before Miami eliminated the Nets.)

    [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

    Heat's angry, ready
    Riley insisted during a Thursday teleconference, there also should be no emotional scars from Wednesday's competitive loss.

    He said his players seemed to take home that message.

    "I didn't sense in the locker room a real frustrated team," he said, having given his players Thursday off. "I sensed a team that was angry, because they know they did not play the game well."

    DAVE HYDE: Gauging Heat's highs, lows
    "You can be the first one," Riley told guard Dwyane Wade, meaning Wade would be the first player from the celebrated 2003 draft class to make the NBA Finals. [Wrong.]

    "You're a long way from France," Riley told forward Udonis Haslem, who played in basketball's hinterlands three years ago.

    "You've been there before," he told veteran Gary Payton, who advanced to the Finals twice.

    He told Antoine Walker, "You can take the next step," and Alonzo Mourning, "You've fought for this."

    All these words are just as relevant before tonight's Game 6, maybe more so, because the line to the entire team goes like so:

    You can deliver the biggest win in Heat history -- or the worst loss.

    White hot's not cool for all in Miami
    There are a few fans who won't be "White Hot," despite the Heat's marketing campaign.

    During the 30 minutes before each Heat playoff game, the arena camera operators zoom in on fans not dressed in white. Announcer Michael Baiamonte hollers out "Hey you! Put on that shirt!" to those who sit with their free white shirts draped over their shoulders.

    "I call it coaxing," Baiamonte said.

    The color campaign is the third in three years, following up on last year's "The Red Zone" and 2004's "Back in Black." The 20,000-plus arena seats are covered in white pillowcases to enhance the snowy look, and ushers give away white shirts at the first home game of each playoff series.

    IRA WINDERMAN: Do ... or die?
    The Heat can win in Detroit and has been competitive in every game at the Palace of Auburn Hills in this series.

    That said, it would be foolish for the Heat to think just because it's home for Friday's Game 6 of these Eastern Conference finals that closing out this series will be easy.

    [Palm Beach Post]

    Pressure: Heat find the series turned around
    Lose, and the Heat trudges back to Detroit tied at three games apiece to play a supremely confident Pistons team in Game 7 on Sunday. And according to the numbers, it would be an almost certain Miami loss. Home teams are 78-17 (.821 winning percentage) in NBA playoff Game 7s, and on top of that, Detroit had the league's best regular-season home record at 37-4.

    So while Miami says tonight isn't a must-win game — after all, it can point to Detroit winning Game 7 of last year's conference finals on the Heat's home floor — percentages say otherwise.

    GREG STODA: Riley pensive in role as Great Motivator
    Riley, who has his own great and proud reputation as a coach and motivator, now finds himself searching for just the right voice with which to entice his team. His predicament is that a good portion of the Heat core features not just veterans, but veterans who are or were NBA stars — O'Neal, Gary Payton, Alonzo Mourning — of considerable significance.

    Mix in other veterans (Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, James Posey and a few others), and it can, with the exception of Mourning and his fierce allegiance to Riley, make for a bored audience.

    Big-game success bolsters Detroit
    KEY BISCAYNE — Flip Saunders isn't ready to burst just yet, and the Pistons coach hopes his team won't either.

    Saunders described himself as "a standing piñata" on Thursday because of all the criticism he has taken as the Pistons trail the Heat 3-2 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.

    The Pistons fought off one elimination game with Wednesday's 91-78 victory, and Saunders, in his first season coaching the reigning two-time Eastern Conference champions, hopes they can do it again with Game 6 tonight in Miami.

    When asked if the piñata has broken, Saunders said, "They got a little bit of candy out of me, but I've got a lot left."

    As for the team, Saunders said experience has eased any anxiety.

    "I think if you didn't have a team that was in this situation as much as they've been, you'd maybe be somewhat concerned," Saunders said. "But this team has faced elimination many times and had success. They feel confident."

    [Washington Times]

    TOM KNOTT: Pistons headed for exit
    If the Pistons go down tonight, it will be well-deserved.

    That would prompt a goodbye, along with a good riddance.

    No team should find a reward after throwing its beleaguered coach under the bus, especially the coach who succeeded the one who abandoned it for the 23-win dream job in Manhattan.

    [This is one bitter dude, and he pours the Hatorade all over everybody. But some of his points are actually the same ones we've been making in the forums.]
  10. LanierFan

    LanierFan Bench Warmer

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    [Detroit News]

    Pistons feel momentum is building; will it be enough?
    "We know each other real well right now," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "It's going to come down to effort plays. It's going to come down to who's making free throws, who's rebounding the ball, who's not making turnovers. It comes down to those kinds of factors; at least that's been my experience."

    Terry Foster's Game 6 preview
    Alonzo Mourning wants to get the Heat crowd into the game as quickly as possible. So you can pretty much expect some sort of extra-curricular activity from him. It might be a hard foul on Richard Hamilton or a push or shove against someone else. Either way, Mourning wants to impose his will when he's in the game.

    Daly: Clincher is hardest game to win
    Daly, watching from a section behind the basket at Miami's end of the court, was reminded of his words as the Pistons began to seize control late in Game 5. The Heat have never been to the Finals. Their first attempt to clinch was sliding through their fingers.

    "It's brutal," Daly said of the pressure to clinch.

    There was a new energy surge from the Pistons. What did Daly like?
    "They're pushing it," Daly said, meaning all over the court, not just on offense.

    ROB PARKER: Pistons will need Rasheed's 'A' game in Game 6 tonight
    Despite Wallace's 3-for-11 shooting Wednesday, he's closer to snapping out of his funk than most think. If you watched closely, several shots rimmed out, including a couple of three-pointers. He's just a tad off.

    So, the Heat should fear Wallace for a couple of key reasons.

    BOB WOJNOWSKI: It's now ... or next season
    "There's no pressure on us at all," Wade said, not completely convincing. "We've got a golden opportunity to win Game 6 at home. These are the conference champions. There's no pressure on us."

    He actually used the "no pressure on us" line four times in a 20-second answer. Makes you wonder.
  11. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    [Terre Haute Tribune Star]


    Given To Fly: Look for Pistons to play music of champions
    By Craig Pearson

    TERRE HAUTE — I’ve been through Detroit before, but never had I entered the Palace of Auburn Hills until recently.

    It’s not the Boston Garden, but there is some basketball tradition there.

    When I was about eight years old, one of my first NBA memories was the Pistons taking down Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and the L.A. Lakers in the NBA Finals.


    [MSNBC]


    Despite 3-2 lead, pressure is on Heat
    Miami doesn't want to face prospect of returning to Detroit for Game 7
    By Mike Celizic

    Miami lost Game 5, coach but Pat Riley’s warriors are still up 3-2 on the Detroit Pistons with Game 6 on their home floor, where they are expected to win. And because of that, the heat’s now on the Heat.

    Pressure is a funny thing, often weighing more heavily on those on whom it should weigh the least. Logic says that when the Heat took a 3-1 lead over the favored Pistons, all of the pressure moved to Detroit’s side of the ledger. After all, when teams led by a future Hall of Famer and a rising superstar get such a lead, they almost never lose a series.



    [Boston Globe]


    Billups has turned into a big shot
    by Jackie MacMullan

    Pitino's brief reign as king of the Celtics was a disaster, in part, because he was too impatient to allow his young players to develop, but really, now, how many of us thought Chauncey Billups would be a legitimate league MVP candidate someday?

    Not me. As much as I loved the kid's energy and confidence during his brief tenure in Boston, I understood Pitino's concerns that he was a ``tweener" who might not ever develop the necessary skills to become a successful point guard, and wondered aloud if he would ever hone the kind of perimeter game that would be crucial to his success.



    [New York Daily News]


    After block, Ben rejects Shaq notion
    by MITCH LAWRENCE

    MIAMI - On your typical NBA day, Shaquille O'Neal has almost no use for Ben Wallace. In O'Neal's mind, Wallace is among the legion of annoying defenders who resort to flopping to get calls and whining to the refs when they can't contend with the Diesel's physical play.

    So it came as no surprise that after Miami had its lead cut to 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals, Shaq gave Wallace no credit for coming up with one of the great all-time blocks against O'Neal, a play that the Pistons hope will continue to resonate here tonight in Game 6.
  12. Slippy

    Slippy All-Star Administrator Forum Donor

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    [the Oakland Press]

    Feeling it?
    By DANA GAURUDER
    Of The Oakland Press

    For the first time in the Eastern Conference finals, the Miami Heat are feeling the heat. Not just the sweltering humidity of their home base, but the burning sensation of being under the most stressful of situations.

    Pistons have fallen off behind the 3-point line
    By DAVID BIRKETTOf The Oakland Press

    One of the top 3-point shooting teams in the regular season, the Pistons have struggled with their stroke from beyond the arc in the Eastern Conference finals. Detroit made just 2 of 15 3-pointers in Wednesday's 91-78 Game 5 victory, and is shooting 28.9 percent this round. In the regular season, the Pistons had the third-best 3-point percentage in the league (38.4 percent), behind only Phoenix (39.9) and San Antonio (38.5).
  13. Slippy

    Slippy All-Star Administrator Forum Donor

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    A.Sherod Blakely's blog at MLIVE.COM

    Looking beyond the playoffs, tough decisions looming
    With the Pistons having workouts this morning with a bunch of players few have ever heard of, with Michigan’s Daniel Horton being the exception, it’s time to start at least peeking around the corner at next season.
  14. LanierFan

    LanierFan Bench Warmer

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    [Associated Press]

    Heat eliminate Pistons in Game 6 rout
    O'Neal had 28 points and 16 rebounds and Dwyane Wade - who spent part of his day in a hospital battling dehydration and flu-like symptoms - added 14 points as the Heat ended the Detroit Pistons' two-year reign as Eastern Conference champions with an 95-78 win Friday.

    Jason Williams, one of Riley's prized and numerous offseason additions, came up huge with Wade lagging in Game 6, scoring 21 points on 10-for-12 shooting.

    [NBA.com]

    Heat overcome Wade's illness to eliminate Pistons
    Amid all the analysis, what this series came down to was making shots. In the clincher, Miami shot 56 percent (39-of-70) while Detroit managed just 33 percent (27-of-81).

    "Every time we crawled back, we got open shots but just didn't hit them," Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince said. "I can't remember the last time we played defense like this. When you play defense like this and you give the other team a chance to set up their defense, that is when we became cold."

    [Fox Sports]

    CHARLEY ROSEN: How the Heat cooked the Pistons
    What was the difference? The absence of the surprise element was the biggest. It's remarkable what a veteran coach and veteran players can accomplish during an off-day practice session. Once Shaq could identify who was where, and what were the available spaces in which he could maneuver, the Pistons would have needed a third Wallace to contain him.

    Moreover, when a defense takes something away from an offense, they must necessarily create alternative scoring opportunities for their opponents. So, with Shaq circumscribed, Udonis Haslem was ceded open jumpers in Game 5 — and couldn't shoot himself in the foot. Come Game 6, however, Haslem shot well enough (4-9 for 8 points, with several of his misses coming late in the game) to take advantage of Detroit's anti-Shaq schemes.

    For most teams, developing an all-inclusive offensive rhythm can take several minutes. That's why coaches like to have a starter who can unilaterally ring up points right out of the gate while everybody else is getting comfortable and coordinated. That's exactly what Jason Williams did — and more. Popping jumpers, blowing by Chauncey Billups to either score layups or toss dunk-me passes to Shaq. Williams' astounding 10-12 shooting and 21 points easily compensated for Wade's being hampered by a flu bug.

    Saunders might feel the heat after first season
    With Friday's setback in Miami, Saunders fell to 7-25 on the road in the playoffs. Only Mike Fratello (5-26) has been worse away from home among NBA coaches with at least 20 postseason games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

    The Pistons were 0-3 on the Heat's court, 1-2 at Cleveland in the second round and 1-1 against Milwaukee on the road in the first round.

    [ESPN]

    DAILY DIME: Finally, the Heat
    Chris Sheridan: For now, the Heat have knocked off their nemesis and make it somewhere they've never been before. They'll return to work Sunday while the Pistons are back home revisiting how and where it all went wrong, wondering if their three-year run as the class of the conference has already come to an end.

    "They did what we used to do as a team, forcing their will on a team and playing the way they wanted to play. When they had an opportunity to go out and take control, that's exactly what they did," Pistons center Ben Wallace said. "They were the better team."

    Chad Ford: For most of the regular season, Saunders lived up to advance billing, and then some. The team performed at a very high level, making a run at 70 wins and showing more freedom and confidence than ever, and Saunders finished a strong third in the Coach of the Year voting.

    However, he made some critical mistakes that might have cost the Pistons the title.

    First, he refused to develop his bench. Not only did he ride his top six -- Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace and Antonio McDyess -- into the ground, but he never developed the depth necessary to provide them relief.

    Talented players like Darko Milicic, Carlos Arroyo and Carlos Delfino sat around doing little or nothing. Eventually Arroyo and Milicic were shipped out, with the rationale being that the Pistons might as well get rid of them if the coach wasn't going to play them. Delfino will ask for a trade when the season ends.

    Chris Sheridan: All Wallace needed to say Friday night was that he wanted and expected to return, but he wouldn't go even that far while initially ducking questions about his future and then giving a few vague answers before exiting the locker room and getting on the team bus that would take the Pistons to the airport for the long flight back to Detroit.

    After firing his old agent and saying he planned to have an attorney (billing on an hourly basis rather than taking a percentage) negotiate his new deal, Wallace went out last month and hired one of the most powerful deal brokers in the business, Arn Tellem.

    "I needed an agent, that's all that is," Wallace said. "You know, everyone needs somebody to talk for them every now and then. They get tired of hearing your voice."

    [Detroit Bad Boys]

    Heat in Six
    Wow. This is going to have to sink in for a little bit. But I tip my hat to Miami. They played like they wanted it for six games straight, while Detroit kind of meandered around for a few games, panicked and then it was just too late. If Miami plays in the Finals like they did in this series, they may even win a game or two.

    But is there anything more annoying than Miami fans? If the Pistons are going to lose, I'd at least like to see them lose to a team like the Cavs whose home fans aren't too cool to cheer the whole game. Miami had to settle for passing out those cicadas-sounding noisemakers which made the television broadcast nearly unbearable. And what's up with these guys below? You think the guy wearing the "E" said, "Wait, put powder on my face? No, that would be weird."

    [Need4Sheed.com]

    It's Over
    [Nothing except a mushroom cloud ... and utter silence about a certain player who we did indeed need.]

    [Detroit News]

    Meltdown
    "They just beat us, man," Antonio McDyess said. "They totally just beat us. Give them all the credit. They came out, jumped on us and we didn't have a chance. We tried to fight back, but we didn't have nothing to fight them with."

    The Pistons at the end looked worn, ragged and beaten -- humiliated -- and now face a suddenly uncertain future. The accumulated fatigue of 83 playoff games over the last four years appeared to catch up with them. They were several steps slower than the Heat throughout the series, unable to match their intensity or aggression.

    "It's just so disappointing to get to the end of the season and not be playing our best basketball, not even close," Chauncey Billups said. "It is really disappointing. But only one team is ever happy at the end and that's the champion."

    Wallace laments 'wasted season'
    MIAMI -- The Pistons' locker room, normally a boisterous place, was as quiet as a state funeral.

    Players shuffled around in silence. Reporters lingered around lockers in silence. And Pistons center Ben Wallace, not one to usually make a lot of noise, was also very quiet.

    Will there be changes?
    Pistons president Joe Dumars said after Game 6 there would be roster changes next season, but it's highly unlikely he'll call for a major overhaul.

    "I don't feel like this is the end of the run," Chauncey Billups said. "I just feel like it was one of those years where we just fell short. We have a lot of pieces here that hopefully can be here for a long time.

    "What I hope is, we take the team we've got and get it better."

    BOB WOJNOWSKI: Done
    This was about recapturing something, that chip the Pistons once wore. They've always have been poor fat cats and great hungry ones. Maybe that astonishing 39-6 regular-season start and those four All Stars and all that praise came at a cost, at a loss of griminess -- that willingness to do whatever it took in the toughest times.

    The Heat displayed more of a chip, more anger, as if grabbing something they thought they deserved. A year ago, the Pistons came into this same arena, beat the Heat in Game 7, then moved on to the NBA Finals. They left behind a Miami team to stew and scheme, to rebuild its roster, to rejuvenate coach Pat Riley and inspire O'Neal and anger Wade.

    ROB PARKER: Cold shooting chills Pistons' title dreams
    The Pistons lost because they couldn't score consistently. Period.

    How do you fix that? It wasn't all jump shots. They missed layups, too. Really, it's almost unexplainable.

    [Detroit Free Press]

    Miami 95, Detroit 78: Heatstroke
    "It's the way we came out and played," said Antonio McDyess, the only regular without a championship ring. "We didn't play the basketball we normally play. We didn't move the ball, didn't stop anybody on defense. Flip can only put so much in front of you, and you can only do so much in going on there and leaving it all on the court, and we just let them totally take our heart."

    McDyess, a catalyst in the Game 5 win, was scoreless Friday. He wasn't alone in his offensive troubles. Billups went 3-for-14 for nine points and had eight assists. Rasheed Wallace was a ghost, scoring 10 points on 12 shots. Tayshaun Prince, always a quiet scorer, was simply quiet. He scored 10 points.

    DREW SHARP: Pistons' two-year Eastern reign ends with empty feeling
    The legacy of this disaster will be that the Pistons forgot who they were and what they stood for. They were strongest when they understood that they weren't the pick of the litter. They're mutts. They came to Detroit as cast-offs and attained a high level of success because the five starters fused their respective strengths together for a common goal.

    They forgot that in the flurry of accolades and acknowledgements over the course of a 64-win regular season and 80% of the starting lineup earning All-Star consideration. They got bloated from an inflated sense of self-importance.

    Hopefully, the humility from their precipitous drop from lord of the manor to basement dweller will serve as a valuable lesson in the critical weeks ahead.

    MITCH ALBOM: Burned out
    Perhaps the saddest part for Pistons fans is that their players in this series, uncharacteristically, talked a better game than they played. They talked about moving. But they didn't move. They talked about having confidence. But they didn't play with confidence. They talked about putting pressure on Miami. But Detroit was the team with a piano on its back.

    Here was Prince, Friday night, missing an open lay-up on a fast break. Here was Rip Hamilton throwing a ball over Ben Wallace's head. Here was Antonio McDyess with butterfingers on what could have been two easy baskets. Here was Billups hitting more iron that a blacksmith, and Rasheed Wallace, a rhythm shooter, showing all the rhythm of a kid banging his alphabet blocks together.

    Chauncey had three baskets all night. Tayshaun had three. Rasheed had four. McDyess and Lindsey Hunter had none. It was embarrassing. Beneath them. No way for former champions to go down. But when you choose to live on a ledge, you are not allowed a single misstep.

    Pistons Corner: Big Ben's heart says stay in Detroit, but ...
    Wallace, who won his fourth defensive player of the year award, will be 32 in September, meaning a max contract of six years would lock him up until he's 38. That's not something Detroit wants to do.

    Teams such as Chicago and Atlanta might push the price and amount of years on the deal into an area the Pistons don't want to go.

    If so, it will be up to Wallace and his new powerful agent, Arn Tellem, to decide what is really more important -- inking his final deal of his career for as much as possible or staying in Detroit for another crack at a championship, even if it nets him only a three- or four-year contract.
    One thing is certain -- the players think they need Wallace back if they want to stay at the elite level for at least another season.

    "We'll be fine," point guard Chauncey Billups said. "The whole thing is, we have to get Ben back. He is the Pistons. ... Our whole thing this summer is we have to get Ben back."

    ...

    After the loss, the locker room was understandably solemn. No one seemed to take it harder than Antonio McDyess, the only regular contributor who hasn't won a championship ring.

    In his emotional state, he said he now didn't believe he ever would.

    "This feels like the end," he said. "It doesn't feel like I'm ever going to come close to that ring again. They always say that a lot ... once you get to the Finals, it's hard to get back. My chance, it seems like I had the best chance of winning it last year. And now, it seems like it faded away, and I don't think it'll ever come back."

    [And on that blue note, we draw the season to a close with hopes for next year. This has been LanierFan, signing off.]
  15. Slippy

    Slippy All-Star Administrator Forum Donor

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    [the Oakland Press]

    Season stalled
    blah blah blah blah blah we lost blah blah...
  16. Slippy

    Slippy All-Star Administrator Forum Donor

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  17. roscoe36

    roscoe36 All-Star Administrator

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    Thank you for all the hard work.
  18. lurker

    lurker First Round Draft Pick

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    What does it say that I find the grumpy summaries far more informative than the straightforward factual ones?
  19. Slippy

    Slippy All-Star Administrator Forum Donor

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    [Detroit Free Press]

    MITCH ALBOM: Walk of shame?
    MIAMI -- Late Friday night, inside the American Airlines Arena, streams of happy people were celebrating an Eastern Conference finals crown. One group of Heat dancers was joined by a cluster of older fans, and together they came down the hall squealing and shrieking.
    Some people think Mitch is an idiot but he tells good anecdotes

    WHAT'S NEXT? Hopefully more defense, more swagger

    On Saturday afternoon, under a sky sporadically spitting fat drops of rain, the Detroit Pistons sporadically emerged from the team's practice facility, carrying boxes of possessions to their awaiting Range Rovers and Escalades.

    [Detroit News]
    AUBURN HILLS - The suddenness of the collapse will keep the Pistons' organization spinning for a bit. It’s going to take a while to fully comprehend and understand all that went into it.

    Link to discussion on this article: Mouthpiece?

  20. Slippy

    Slippy All-Star Administrator Forum Donor

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    [the Oakland Press]

    B. Wallace indicates he wants to return
    By DAVID BIRKETT
    Of The Oakland Press

    AUBURN HILLS - Ben Wallace found some room for humor after the Pistons' premature exit from the NBA playoffs Friday. On the three-hour flight back to Detroit from Miami, with his
    teammates prodding him about his pending free agency and encouraging him to re-sign with the Pistons, Wallace shared a couple of laughs that, for a minute, dulled the pain off the 95-78 Game 6 loss.

    Dream season falls flat
    By DANA GAURUDER
    Of The Oakland Press

    Call it the 'Curse of the Darko.'

    What more do you need. Click on the link!!!

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