"This is what we've been looking forward to all year," Wallace
Wallace scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half and Richard Hamilton had 21 to lead Detroit to a 92-74 win over the Milwaukee
Bucks in Game 1 of their first-round series.
The top-seeded Pistons were so balanced offensively that they
started the final quarter with four scorers in double figures, and
were so tough at the other end that Milwaukee didn't have one.
"One of the strengths of Detroit's team is it's hard to focus
on one guy," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said.
Milwaukee star Michael Redd was held to 11 points on 4-of-15
shooting after averaging 25.4 during the regular season and 30 in
four games against the Pistons.
"Whenever I got the ball, I had two or three guys around me,"
Redd said. "They were really concentrating on me, to shut me
Reserve Charlie Bell led the Bucks with 13 points.
The Pistons took control with a 13-2 run midway through the
third quarter to take a 64-45 lead, but had to respond when the
Bucks showed signs of life to open the fourth.
"We wanted to win big right away," Detroit coach Flip Saunders
said after coaching the Pistons for the first time in the
postseason. "We didn't let things happen; we tried to make too
many spectacular plays."
Milwaukee scored the first eight points -- six on Bell's
3-pointers -- of the final quarter to pull within four, but couldn't
stop four Pistons from combining for an 11-0 run to give Detroit a
The Pistons will also host Game 2 in the best-of-seven series
Detroit, which lost Game 7 at San Antonio June 23, will have
home-court advantage throughout the postseason after winning an
NBA-high 64 games.
The Pistons will have a shot at meeting expectations of a
championship if they stay healthy -- and that might be the only
thing they're worried about after their playoff opener.
Hamilton rolled his left ankle early in the fourth. After
appearing to be OK as he played, Hamilton later limped off the
court in pain. Saunders said Hamilton could've gone back in the
game, but the score was lopsided enough that he wasn't needed.
"The nice thing is we have a couple of days off," Saunders
Hamilton had X-rays after the game, which the Pistons said were
Milwaukee, the lone sub-.500 team still playing, is the first
team in NBA history to make the postseason with at least four players who didn't start for the team the previous season. Redd was the only starter who didn't make his postseason debut for the Bucks in Game 1.
The Pistons begin games with the same five players they did in
2004 when they beat the Bucks in the first round en route to the
third championship in franchise history.
Detroit scored the first basket -- on Wallace's first of four
field goals in the first quarter -- before Milwaukee scored nine
straight points. Both teams finished the quarter making less than
40 percent of their shots and tied 19-all.
"I was just taking what they were giving me -- open shots,"
said Wallace, who made four 3-pointers in six attempts. "I just
wanted to take advantage of it."
After 10 lead changes and six ties, Detroit led 43-37 at
Wallace made a jumper on the first possession of the second
half, picking up where he left off, but went to the bench early in
the fourth quarter when he was called for two quick fouls and a
Milwaukee was without reserve forward Toni Kukoc (back
spasms). ... Saunders, who spent the previous nine-plus seasons
with the Minnesota Timberwolves, coached the CBA's LaCrosse (Wis.)
Catbirds from 1989-94. ... The Pistons went 3-1 against the Bucks
this season, losing the last game they played while Hamilton and
Wallace rested. ... Detroit was 24-of-34 at the line while
Milwaukee took just 10 free throws, and made eight.