A Good Night for Detroit
First the Tigers beat the Phillies, then the natives no doubt began ramsacking what is left of downtown Motown when the Pistons knocked off the Lakers and "shocked the world" in what is being called one of the more surprising "upsets" in the NBA Finals in decades. Few analysts predicted this outcome, and even those that did could not foresee Larry Brown's crew dominating Shaq and company in the manner in which they did.
The Tigers beat the Phillies 10-3, sending soaked fans home muttering under their breath (watching Larry Brown smile later for the ABC cameras wouldn't soothe their wounds either). Todd Zolecki and Marcus Hayes have all the gory details in their game stories. Zolecki's notebook seems to have GM Ed Wade and coach Larry Bowa at odds over the decision to demote Chase Utley to the minors. Utley surprised a few folks with his performance while filling in for Placido Polanco, and this move will no doubt be second-guessed during the months ahead. Dennis Deitch talks about the comedy of errors last night, including snide references to balls hit in the vicinity of the "Abreu Triangle." Rich Hofmann is concerned about the long-term effects of the injuries to the starting pitchers on the bullpen. Mike Olshin reports that the Phillies are one of only four MLB teams averaging more than 40,000 in attendance (this is probably double what typical attendance was at the Vet, especially in recent years), as they check in at 40,008. Lots of Delaware Valley folks want to get a first hand look at CBP.
Phil Jasner says Greg Buckner (please, please take him), Marc Jackson, Todd MacCulloch, Aaron McKie, and Derrick Coleman were on the list the Sixers submitted for the expansion draft. I guess I'm a bit surprised that McKie's name shows up on that list. Perhaps Billy King and company feel he's been through too much wear-and-tear over the years. Jasner also says last night's loss marks "the end of an era for the Lakers, who can only stare helplessly into an uncertain future." John Smallwood agrees with the assessment that this was "one of the most stunning upsets in Finals history," at least when you consider what the experts were saying before the series began. Smallwood says, "Detroit didn't just bea the Lakers. It humilated them, stomped on their egos, cut their hearts out" (a reference to when Kobe said he would do that to the Sixers in 2001, John?) It was pretty evident watching the game last night that by midway through the third quarter, when the lead was around 15 (and growing), that the Lakers just flat out quit, which you would think to be completely unacceptable for that organization. Stephen A. Smith calls the Pistons' championship "shocking and alarming." He says "the Lakers were completely annihilated, bum-rushed in such conspicuous fashion, they should hestitate to show their faces to family and friends." He lays most of the blame on the "man who-would-not-be-Michael-Jordan: Kobe Bryant." It's hard to imagine what Stephen A(ngry) Smith (as some affectionately refer to him as) would have had to say if he hadn't been waving his purple and gold Laker pom-poms for the greater part of the last five years. Or is he particularly scathing today because the Lakers nearly got swept, thus embarrassing Smith's own reputation as an NBA expert? Meanwhile, Jerry Crowe of the LA Times quotes Phil Jackson from his press conference last night "that it's a pretty slim chance that I'll be back" with the Lakers next year.
If you think about it, not only are the Pistons the only home team that swept the middle 3 games at home since the 2-3-2 format was adopted in 1985, but they are probably now the only team that had to win five games in order to clinch a series--given that they pretty much had Game 2 wrapped up before Larry Brown insisted on "playing the right way" and losing that game. Many of the "experts" (though I wouldn't consider myself one, I would agree with them) felt the Pistons would be demoralized after losing that game in that manner. It kind of reminds me of the "greatest comeback in playoff history," which happened in Nets-Celtics two years ago. Boston came back from a 26-point deficit and beat New Jersey in Game 3, and many (myself included) figured the Nets would be done. They went on to win three straight and take the series. I guess there's nothing to this "demoralizing loss" theory when it comes to the playoffs.
CSN has the Tigers-Phillies at 7:05.