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'We will win Game 2'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Guarantees were in vogue Sunday at the
Eastern Conference finals, Rasheed Wallace again promising that the
Detroit Pistons will defeat the Indiana Pacers in Game 2.

"That's all I'm saying, people. We will win Game 2," Wallace
announced, repeating the second sentence several times as he was
set upon by a media mob upon his entrance to practice.

Wallace issued that same guarantee Saturday night after the
Pistons dropped Game 1 of the best-of-seven series, which resumes
Monday night.

Indiana coach Rick Carlisle and his players acknowledged taking
note of the boast but gave no indication they took great offense.
It remains to be seen whether they're seething privately.

Wallace is the latest in a long line of athletes -- beginning
with Joe Namath at the 1969 Super Bowl -- to utter the dreaded
"g-word."

Just a few days ago, Dwyane Wade, Rafer Alston and Malik Allen
of the Miami Heat failed to deliver on their guarantee of forcing a
Game 7 against Indiana in the second round.

"I guarantee that there's going to be a Game 2, and that
someone's going to win it. And I guarantee that Rasheed will
probably be in the game and I won't," Pacers forward Scot Pollard
quipped.

"I guarantee we'll be wearing white jerseys and they'll wear
their road jerseys. If nobody wins, the fans will get their money
back -- that's a guarantee."

Wallace, historically uncooperative with reporters, had little
else to say other than repeating the statement: "We will win Game
2." A question about his ailing left foot was met with silence,
and a query about his opinion of Jermaine O'Neal elicited only a
cursory reply.

Wallace was largely ineffective in Game 1, shooting 1-for-7 with
three turnovers and five fouls -- many of them questionable calls.

"Knowing him, he feels responsible for the game last night,"
Detroit coach Larry Brown said. "But again, the guy's in foul
trouble right off the bat in almost every game. And it's kind of
hard to play that way when the guy you're playing against never
gets a foul.

"Offensively, in the first 13 minutes, he only touched the ball
once, so I don't know how you're going to be very productive in
that regard."

The Pistons got the bulk of their offense from their backcourt,
shooting guard Richard Hamilton scored 23 and point guard Chauncey
Billups added 18. The reserves contributed only nine points, as did
starting small forward Tayshaun Prince, and Wallace scored only
four.

Indiana had problems at the offensive end, too, from Ron Artest
shooting 6-for-23 to O'Neal's 7-for-20 to Jamaal Tinsley drawing
groans from the home fans for some of his shot selections.

Reggie Miller's tiebreaking 3-pointer with 31.7 seconds was the
biggest shot of the game as the Pacers won despite being held to 30
points in the second half.

"I really don't know what's in Rasheed's head," Miller said in
response to the day's preferred line of questioning.

Artest said, "A lot of guys talk in the world. This is just
another guy talking in the world."

O'Neal went to dinner after the game with Wallace and another
former teammate from their Portland days, Bonzi Wells, but O'Neal
didn't find out about the guarantee until Sunday morning because
they didn't talk basketball.

"A guarantee makes it that much harder. That's the negative
part of making a comment like that. You have to be able to back up
whatever you say," O'Neal said.

Before practicing, the Pistons watched videotape of their
offensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter. After Mehmet Okur's
10-footer gave Detroit a 68-65 lead with 7:45 remaining, the
Pistons missed 11 of their final 12 shots.

"Having to watch tape like that, it's somewhat embarrassing to
see what really happened, to see our body language," Ben Wallace
said. "The tape don't blink."

More low-scoring affairs can be expected from two teams that
shun the fast break in favor of slowed-down, halfcourt sets.

Neither team made it to 80 points in Game 1, which also happened
a year ago when the New Jersey Nets defeated the Pistons 76-74 in
the opener of the conference finals.

Saturday night's loss extended Detroit's losing streak in
conference finals games to nine straight, the franchise's last
victory coming in 1990 against the Chicago Bulls in Game 7.

It's a guaranteed fact that Rasheed Wallace was 15 years old at
the time, and it's a safe bet that he'd decline to discuss his
memories of that game if in fact he had any.

It's also fair to predict that Wallace won't be in a chatty mood
if the Pistons lose again before the series shifts to Detroit.

Better yet, put that one down as a guarantee, too.

"It's our job as teammates to rally around him and make sure
he's right," Corliss Williamson said.