Originally created 06/16/04

Pistons thump Lakers for first title in 14 years



AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Motown is Titletown. The descendants of the Bad Boys made sure of it with a stunning upset that was really no contest at all.

Without a superstar among them and without being given much of a chance, the Detroit Pistons humiliated the Los Angeles Lakers 100-87 on Tuesday night in Game 5 of the NBA finals for their first title in 14 years.

With finals MVP Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace leading the way, the Pistons were at their very best in the clincher, defeating Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the rest of the Lakers in every facet of the game. It was both methodical and shocking the way they pulled ahead and pulled away for one of the biggest surprises in NBA finals history.

Wallace took a big step toward becoming a superstar with an 18-point, 22-rebound effort that helped Detroit become the first Eastern Conference team to win the title since the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in 1998.

Equally important was 14 points from Billups, 21 from Richard Hamilton and 17 from Tayshaun Prince.

Game 5 was so lopsided that Lakers owner Jerry Buss, carrying his jacket and accompanied by an entourage, headed for the exit before the third quarter was over. By the time the last timeout rolled around, fans were already being urged to keep their celebrations under control.

As the final buzzer sounded, Pistons coach Larry Brown stoically walked to midcourt and received a handshake and warm smile from Lakers coach Phil Jackson and a hug from Bryant.

Many fans at The Palace stood through the final several minutes, savoring every moment they had waited for since the Pistons won won titles in 1989 and '90 .

The game steadily got away from the Lakers from the second quarter on, unraveling completely over the latter part of the third quarter when it became clear they weren't going to make a game of it.

On one sequence, Bryant missed a 3-pointer, got his own rebound but missed on a drive, and Wallace soared high above everyone to snare his 14th rebound. Bryant was then called for a blocking foul as Billups brought the ball upcourt, and an "M-V-P" chant greeted him as he went to the line and made it 80-59.

For good measure, Bryant missed a layup just moments later, and the quarter ended with Detroit ahead by 23 and the Lakers shuffling off the court a thoroughly defeated team.