I gotta represent!!

World Sports – AFP

Detroit Pistons beat Lakers to capture third NBA title

47 minutes ago

AUBURN HILLS, United States (AFP) – Forget Hockeytown, Detroit now belongs to basketball’s Pistons.

Richard Hamilton scored 21 points and Ben Wallace had 18 and grabbed 22 rebounds as Detroit overpowered the Los Angeles Lakers (news) 100-87 on Tuesday to capture their third National Basketball Association title.

The Pistons closed out the heavily-favoured Lakers in five games to register one of the biggest upsets in NBA finals history.

“We are sitting on the top of the world,” Rasheed Wallace said. “It is a band of guys. When you have veterans who are hungry and are willing to sacrifice to win you don’t need to be a leader because everyone knows what they have to do.”

Chauncey Billups had 14 points and six assists and was named the most valuable player of the finals.

“We never stopped trying, and we believed in ourselves,” Billups said. “We played team basketball and we knew that would overcome everything.”

Detroit won its first title since claiming back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990.

Once again the Pistons used a balanced scoring attack and stifling defence to beat the Lakers. Tayshaun Prince had 17 points and 10 rebounds before a frenzied crowd of 22,076 at The Palace arena.

“We just kept fighting, we kept fighting,” said Prince, who did a superb job of shutting down Lakers star Kobe Bryant. “I am so happy right now, and it is all inside. I can’t explain how I feel.”

Rasheed Wallace, who came to Detroit in a trade four months ago, scored 11 points as all five Piston starters finished in double figures.

“I just added a little bit of defence,” Rasheed Wallace said. “They were already a great team. I take pleasure in coming here and it has worked out for the best.

Bryant led the Lakers with 24 points. Shaquille O’Neal got into foul trouble early and finished with 20 points.

The Lakers were trying to become the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals.

Instead of winning their fourth title in five years the Lakers are now looking at a major overhaul in the off-season.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said after the game there was a “slim” chance he would be back next season with the Lakers.

“Right now I would say it’s a pretty slim chance that I will be back coaching next year,” Jackson said, who has won nine NBA titles with Los Angeles and Chicago.

Derek Fisher, who won three titles with the Lakers between 2000-2002, said there are mixed emotions in the locker room because some players will be moving on.

“When you leave the dressing room you never know if you are going to see those guys again,” Fisher said. “We couldn’t get it done.”

The Pistons took a 23-point lead into the final quarter and became the first team to win all three home games in the middle of a 2-3-2 series.

“The way we did it against a quality coach and a quality team, it feels pretty special,” said Pistons coach Larry Brown, who finally captured the title with his seventh NBA team.

Detroit also became the first Eastern Conference team to win the title since 1998, when the Chicago Bulls (news) captured their sixth championship in eight years under current Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

Aging star Karl Malone did not dress for the Lakers for the first time in the series. Malone, nursing an injured knee, sat on the end of the bench in street clothes and, after going through so much, his season ended without a title.

Slava Medvedenko started in place of Malone and scored a eight points in the first quarter, finishing with 10.

O’Neal got into foul trouble early by picking up his third in the second quarter. With O’Neal out the Pistons opened up their lead to 55-45 at the half.

“They flat out beat us to everything,” O’Neal said. They played with great intensity. They capitalized off our turnovers and they just played harder than we did.”

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