Detroit wins series 4-1 (Game 1 of 5)

Detroit wins series 4-1

Game 1: Sunday, April 18th
Game 2: Wednesday, April 21st
Game 3: Saturday, April 24th
Game 4: Monday, April 26th
Game 5: Thursday, April 29th

Bucks 82

(41-41, 14-27 away)

Pistons 108

(54-28, 31-10 home)

    1:00 PM ET, April 18, 2004

    The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIL 21 22 15 2482
    DET 27 25 28 28108

    Top Performers

    Mil: E. Strickland 10 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl

    Det: R. Wallace 17 Pts, 10 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

    Detroit records team playoff-record 14 steals

    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.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 82 108
    FGM-FGA 32-75 (.427) 39-91 (.429)
    3PM-3PA 4-16 (.250) 6-18 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 14-17 (.824) 24-31 (.774)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-38 19-52
    Assists 20 23
    Turnovers 25 13
    Steals 7 14
    Blocks 5 8
    Fast Break Points 3 9
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (1/0) 19 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Erick Strickland Strickland
    Points: 10
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Rasheed Wallace Wallace
    Points: 17
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 3