WHo Spanked Who???
PISTONS LOWER HAMMER
Bench Warrant: Mcdyess, Hunter Total 30 Points
Rasheed Wallace powers past Robert Horry for a dunk. Wallace finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.
AUBURN HILLS -- Fatigued. Frustrated. Flummoxed.
That was pretty much the state of the Pistons after the first two games of the NBA Finals, and it is pretty much the state of the Spurs now.
The Finals are all square at two games apiece after the Pistons did to the Spurs in Game 4 on Thursday night what the Spurs did to them in Game 2 -- run them right out of the gym.
"(Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) knows how I felt after the first two games," Pistons coach Larry Brown said, "and now I know how he felt."
Getting a combined 30 points from reserves Lindsey Hunter and Antonio McDyess, and dominating all the hustle categories, the Pistons left the Spurs in the dust, 102-71.
"That was a pretty special game," Brown said. "We were phenomenal. ... I really believe, in all honesty, that this is probably the best game a team that I've been involved with has played in such an important game."
Hunter hit 7 of 10 shots and scored nine of his 17 points in an exhilarating third-quarter flurry that earned him a standing ovation from a sellout crowd at The Palace.
"He went back to his Jackson State days when he lit up Kansas for 40-something," Brown said.
McDyess finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. He had seven of those points in an 11-0 run at the start of the second quarter, helping the Pistons establish a 17-point lead.
Hunter, who capped his scoring with a steal and dunk with 2:25 left, contributed four points and four assists in that run.
"We are starting to play the way we need to play, the way we are accustomed to playing every single night," said Chauncey Billups, who had 17 points and seven assists. "It's a great series. This is what NBA Finals is all about. It's tied at 2-2, you know, and it's a three-game series now. First one to two wins. It's going to be a lot of fun."
But trying to run your offense against the Pistons' defense is not so much fun.
"Our defense opens up a lot of stuff," Hunter said. "It gets you easy buckets and layups. I know that ignited me, and I think it did everybody else."
The Pistons forced 18 turnovers and turned them into 25 points. They also limited their turnovers to four, setting a record for the fewest in the NBA Finals and tying the postseason record held by the Pistons against the Celtics on May 9, 1991.
They disrupted the Spurs' offense, jamming Tim Duncan when he tried to dribble, and they clogged the passing lanes. They had 13 steals, three by Ben Wallace, who also had 11 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
"It's just disappointing that their physical play and their defense is taking us away from the things we normally do," Popovich said. "I am pretty sure that's the same team out there that we played in San Antonio. To see us flip-flop like that is disappointing."
The Pistons had 19 second-chance points and 22 fast-break points. In their two victories, they have 48 points off Spurs turnovers and a 42-16 edge in fast-break points.
"The last two days, all we emphasized was the boards and taking care of the basketball, and we came out and did the exact same thing," Popovich said. "You have to credit their defense. They were physical again and they knocked us on our heels again and we reacted poorly to it. You see the result."
Duncan had 16 points and 16 rebounds, but he also missed 12 of 17 shots and had three turnovers. In the last two games, he has made 10 of 32 shots. Credit Ben and Rasheed Wallace for disrupting his rhythm, badgering him before he makes his moves to the basket.
"I can think of about five shots I should have made," Duncan said. "Not that it changes the game drastically, but at the same time, it's a momentum-swinger. I put that on myself."
Manu Ginobili also was quiet for the second straight game. He shot 4-for-9 and had 12 points. Credit Tayshaun Prince for keeping him away from the basket and off the free-throw line (3-for-4).
"Tayshaun and Lindsey are taking on that challenge of making him work harder to get the shots he got at home," Billups said. "We are making him work harder and trying to wear him down more on the offensive end."
The Spurs just missed their playoff low of 70 points and shot 37 percent.
Popovich told his team at halftime that it played "the worst half of basketball" he has seen by an NBA playoff team.
"That's right on the money," he said. "I don't think we are back to square one, but it is disappointing to play two games the same way and not learn from Game 3."
The Finals blowout streak continued. The four games have been decided by an average of 21 points. Who would have guessed that?
"I just think the team that played the hardest, and done all the little things, has been able to dominate the games," Brown said.
Game 5 will be Sunday night at The Palace.