Saturday, June 5, 2004

The 'Not-quite-so-Bad Boys'

Pistons have only 'D' in common with 1989-90 club

The Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Beyond their home arena and success on defense, there's little this season's Detroit Pistons have in common with the 1989 and '90 NBA champion Bad Boys.

"The biggest difference is we had scorers all over the place," Bill Laimbeer, the most notorious Bad Boy, said Friday. "People got on us for holding teams under a 100, but we could score 115 easy.

"And, we won two championships."

The Pistons will face the Los Angles Lakers - just as the Bad Boys did in 1989 - Sunday night on the road in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson agrees that these Pistons aren't quite so bad.

"They're pretty lightweight," Jackson joked.

Often lost in the Bad Boys' highlights of Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn and Isiah Thomas slugging opponents are the points they scored. The Pistons averaged 106.6 points during the 1988-89 regular season and were second in the league defensively, allowing 100.8 points.

In the playoffs, they averaged 100.6 points and led the league in defense, giving up 92.9 points.

"We were much better offensively than anybody ever gave us credit for," former Pistons coach Chuck Daly said. "And in those days, just to get to the NBA Finals, we had to get through Boston's Hall of Fame frontcourt to get to Los Angeles and its Hall of Famers."

"With 29 teams instead of 25, the talent in the NBA is a lot more spread out now."

This season, the Pistons scored an average of just 90.1 points a game. Detroit and San Antonio gave up an NBA-low 84.3 points a game, and the Pistons set records by holding 36 straight teams under 100 and five in a row under 70.

In the playoffs, Detroit ranks first in points allowed, 80.3 a game, while averaging 86.1 points on offense.

"People have tried to put the 'Bad Boys II' label on us, but we're a totally different team," Detroit guard Lindsey Hunter said.

Joe Dumars, the nice guy on the Bad Boys, is the Pistons' president of basketball operations. He's reluctant to compare the teams.

"But I guess if you have to compare, I would say both teams took tremendous pride in defense and both had an edge to them," he said.

The Pistons swarm on defense, but they rarely knock down opponents the way the Bad Boys did.

"They got in all kinds of fights, and I don't think we got in one this year," Darvin Ham said. "They had more scorers, but we're extremely more athletic.

"If we could get this team to play that team, it would be interesting."

Mahorn doesn't think so.

"It wouldn't be close," he said. "We would be so far in their heads, they wouldn't know what to do.

"Somebody needs to give this team its own nickname."

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