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Detroit records team playoff-record 14 steals

4/18/2004

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Detroit's defense completely shut
down the Milwaukee Bucks.

Richard Hamilton scored 21 points and the Pistons set a team
playoff record with 14 steals in a 108-82 victory over the Bucks on
Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round series.

"This is fun," Hamilton said.

One of the best defenses in NBA history stopped the highest
scoring team in the Eastern Conference.

Detroit gave up just 84.3 points a game this year, the
third-lowest scoring average since the NBA began using a shot clock
during the 1954-55 season. It set a league record by holding 11
opponents -- including five straight -- under 70 points, and 36 in a
row to less than 100.

"I'm real pleased with the way we played," Pistons coach Larry
Brown said after leading his NBA-record seventh team into the
playoffs. "We rebounded the ball, we shared the ball and we forced
them to turn the ball over, which gives us a chance for some easy
baskets. We had a lot of guys playing great basketball."

The Bucks, who averaged 98 points a game, also ranked fourth in
the league in scoring. They played four close regular-season games
against Detroit, losing three of them.

But they didn't play Detroit with Rasheed Wallace, who has made
the Pistons' stingy defense suffocating since being acquired Feb.
19 in a three-team trade. The Pistons won 20 of 24 games before the
playoffs.

Detroit forced 25 turnovers -- turning them into 28 points -- and
had eight blocks. The constant defensive pressure had the Bucks
scrambling just to get their shots off.

When the Pistons led 68-51 midway through the third, they had
more points off turnovers (10) than Milwaukee had points (eight) in
the quarter.

"The game was all about our turnovers and the points we gave
them off turnovers," Milwaukee coach Terry Porter said.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday in Detroit.

Desmond Mason led the Bucks with 16 points. Their leading
scorer, Michael Redd, scored just 11 points -- nearly 11 below his
average -- and went more than 18 minutes without scoring in the
second and third quarters. Joe Smith set a career playoff high with
11 rebounds, and scored six points.

"We were rushing things, trying to get the lead down and they
took advantage by doing a lot of trapping," Redd said. "We didn't
handle it and we've got to find an adjustment for the next game."

Detroit didn't excel on defense alone.

Rasheed Wallace had 17 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, Ben
Wallace had 17 points, 14 rebounds, and Tayshaun Prince added 14
points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

"When you have three guys with double-doubles, and two of them
are Ben and Rasheed, who can cover the paint like that, you know
you have a chance to dictate the game," Prince said.

The last time the Pistons had three players with double-doubles
in a playoff game was against Boston in 1991, when Isiah Thomas,
Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer did it.

Detroit's Chauncey Billups had 12 points, and reserve Corliss
Williamson added 12.

The game was such a blowout that "We want Darko!" chants were
heard early in the fourth quarter. Darko Milicic, the second pick
overall in the draft, played just 34 games this season. He scored
one point in three minutes.

The Bucks missed their standout rookie point guard T.J. Ford,
who is out for the season with a bruised spinal cord.

Ford's backups, Damon Jones and Brevin Knight, played well late
in the regular season, but got in foul trouble trying to defend
Detroit's guards and running the offense.

"We can't worry about who we don't have," Porter said.

Detroit's in-your-face, full-court press -- led by reserve guards
Mike James and Lindsey Hunter -- gave the Bucks problems early in
the second quarter. The Pistons forced two turnovers in 18 seconds,
leading to two baskets, including Ben Wallace's alley-oop dunk that
gave them a 35-25 lead.

Detroit led 52-43 at halftime after forcing nine turnovers and
blocking four shots.

Game notes
The Pistons broke their previous steals record of 13 set in
the 1985 playoffs against Boston, and matched in 1988 against the
Los Angeles Lakers. ... When the Pistons won their second straight
NBA title in 1990, Porter played shooting guard for Portland
against Joe Dumars, Detroit's president of basketball operations.
... Hamilton averaged 22.5 points in his first postseason
appearance last season. ... Brown is 71-72 in the playoffs and is
four wins from matching former Pistons coach Chuck Daly for seventh
place on the NBA's all-time list.