AUBURN HILLS, Mich. Last night was all about the Detroit Pistons winning their first championship in 14 years.
Game 5 of the NBA Finals wasn t about the Dynasty Formerly Known As The Los Angeles Lakers.
It wasn t about what the Lakers didn t do, could have done or might have done under more favorable circumstances.
It wasn t about the Lakers glaring lack of team chemisty or Karl Malone s bad knee that forced him to sit out what may have been his final game.
Forget every one of those sorry excuses. Excuses are for losers.
The Lakers made more excuses than points in this series.
Stick to the facts.
These are the facts:
Detroit 100, Los Angeles 87.
In case you missed it the first time: Pistons 100, Lakers 87.
We just took it to them, said Detroit forward Tayshaun Prince, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds and hounded Kobe Bryant into another poor shooting performance 7-of-21 from the field.
We knew we could play with anybody in this league, Prince added. They came out here with everything they have. We kept fighting and fighting.
The Pistons felled the Lakers with a haymaker last night.
In a Finals rivaling Bill Walton s Portland Trail Blazers over Julius Erving s Philadelphia 76ers in 1977 for sheer upset value, the Pistons demolished Los Angeles in five games, each of the last three Detroit victories more dominant than the previous one.
Detroit, in fact, became the first team in Finals history under the 2-3-2 format to win all three home games.
If not for a miraculous Kobe Bryant 3-pointer forcing overtime in Game 2 in Los Angeles, the Pistons would have won their first championship since 1990 in a 4-0 rout. They ll take 4-1, though no problem.
It was, however, the Pistons first championship won at home as these Pistons did something the Bad Boys didn t do: drink champagne in their own locker room.
Delirious fans arrived early and stayed late, working themselves into a frenzy before and especially after the 13-point keepsake victory.
The Beat L.A., Beat L.A. chants started late in the third quarter, after the Pistons had beaten back what became the Lakers final rally and taken control of the game for good at 78-59.
It was the type of beast-beating, in-your-face, run-it-up-the-flagpole victory that every Pistons fan from Temperance to Toledo will relish fondly and brag to anyone within earshot 20 years from now that they witnessed the game in person.
That s OK. The Pistons made liars out of most of us.
At the start of the series, you could have fit the number of people who actually believed the Pistons could win the series in a phone booth.
Giving the Pistons the benefit of the doubt, I foolishly figured they would lose in six games.
Most sports journalists across the country also had the Lakers winning big, but that doesn t excuse my ignorance since I watched about 25 of their games in person this season.
The Pistons were supposed to be the hood ornament on the Lakers Rolls Royce. The Pistons were supposed to be happy just going along for the ride.
Instead, it was the Pistons who showed the Lakers no mercy.
The Pistons downright embarrassed the Lakers last night.
Los Angeles held its final lead at 31-30. Following an official timeout, the Pistons pushed out to a 39-31 lead, in turn pushing the Lakers precariously close to the edge of the cliff.
Detroit led 55-45 at intermission. The Lakers were hurting.
Detroit center Ben Wallace, as he did in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against New Jersey when he shot 8-of-10 from the field, shocked the Lakers with his early offensive display.
Wallace shot 5-of-5 from the field for 11 first-half points en route to 18 points and a game-high 22 rebounds.
Wallace clearly outplayed Lakers center Shaquille O Neal (20 points, eight rebounds) in Game 5. When that happens, the Pistons become unbeatable.
That s right, the superstar-less, defense-obsessed, team-oriented, struggle-to-score-100-points-in-an-empty arena Pistons.
The Pistons win as a team, lose as a team. They weren t built to stand alone. All five starters reached double figures last night.
There s something to be said for a team that, according to coach Larry Brown, plays the game the right way.
We believe in ourselves, said Finals MVP Chauncey Billups. We re not individual players. We re a great team.