I think one of the big differences tonight was the playing level of Karl Malone. I don't think they can win if he can only play at this level, or not play at all. Their backups are not sufficient and I think an injured Malone affects the Lakers' game as a whole.
The other key was that the Pistons' guards just dominated the Lakers' guards, outscoring them 50-19. And Detroit's defense, along with the defense of the post players, was dominant throughout the game.
The Pistons dominated this game. L.A. never responded. The Lakers got killed on the offensive glass, killed in second-chance points, and they ended the game with only Shaq and Kobe posting double digits in scoring. It's not enough.
The Pistons just crushed them in every department. They've been on the brink of doing that in the first two games, but in this game they were just clearly in control.
I don't know where the Lakers go from here. Kobe has to be more of a factor, obviously, but Tayshaun Prince has done a very good job on him. And even when other defenders had Kobe tonight, his teammates did not get him the ball. He became very frustrated, and understandably so.
The Lakers never got to the free-throw line. I'm sure Phil Jackson will point to the free-throw disparity, but you've got to go to the rim to get to the line.
In Game 4, they have to take it to the basket. They've got to get more opportunities for Kobe, as well. But if Malone can't be a factor -- and I don't see how he can -- I don't know where they go. They need to get more production out of their half-court offense. When they do that, they limit the Pistons' chances to run out. Their screen-and-roll defense has to be better, but it's never been good all season, so I think they're between a rock and a hard place.
It's very surprising to me, but I think the Pistons are in a great position to win this series. No team has won all three home games and the Pistons have a habit of not handling success too well. But they will win if they play this kind of defense two more times. And they've got two more tries here, in front of this loud, energetic home crowd.
Dr. Jack Ramsay, an NBA analyst for ESPN, coached the Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA championship. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Click here to send a question for Dr. Jack for possible use on ESPNEWS.