Detroit believes in upset of Lakers

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Chauncey Billups knows that few people outside the Detroit locker room think the Pistons can beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

"That doesn't bother us because we're ready to shock the
world," the point guard said Saturday.

Count the oddsmakers in Las Vegas among those expecting the
Lakers to win their fourth title in five years. A $100 bet on the
underdog Pistons would return about $600 if they win the series,
while a gambler would have to wager about $800 for a $100 return on
the Lakers.

In Game 1 on Sunday at home, Los Angeles is almost a 10-point

"We know very few people believe we can win this series,"
Pistons reserve Corliss Williamson said. "But the people who
really know the game can see where we have an opportunity to win."

Clearly, Detroit does not have a player as great as Shaquille
O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

"I don't think there's a more dominant player than Shaq, and
probably not a better player than Kobe," Pistons coach Larry Brown

The Pistons, however, believe their 11-man rotation can help
them pull off a stunning upset.

Detroit's depth overcame the star power of the Lakers in a
106-96 victory at home in the regular season. Six Pistons scored in
double figures, and their reserves outscored Los Angeles' 45-14.

"If we utilize our team the way we're capable, we'll have an
opportunity to win," Williamson said. "I don't think we can win
this series with just five-to-seven guys, it's going to take our
whole team.

"I think you're going to see Coach Brown utilize his bench a
lot more this series."

Granted, Detroit's victory over the Lakers was played in
November when they weren't as motivated as they are now.

But they did have the "Big Four" of Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone
and Gary Payton in the lineup, and the Pistons were three months
away from acquiring Rasheed Wallace.

The vast majority of those picking the Lakers in the series
point to Detroit's awful offense, and rightfully so.

Against Indiana, New Jersey and Milwaukee, the Pistons played in
some of the lowest-scoring games in NBA playoff history.

They have made just 40.7 percent of in the postseason, and
haven't shot better than 44 percent in more than a month.

Numerous times, Detroit has gone about four minutes without
scoring -- sometimes more than once in a game.

"We have to make shots and avoid those long scoring droughts,"
Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars said.

Dumars, who led Detroit over Los Angeles as the MVP of the 1989
NBA Finals, is growing tired of hearing the Pistons play ugly

"That's why they have beauty pageants, we're not here for
that," Dumars said.

The Pistons have been able to overcome their rim-clanging shots
because of their defense, which has set several records in both the
regular season and the playoffs.

"We feel we can offer something they haven't seen so far in
these playoffs," former Laker Elden Campbell said.

Other than "playing the right way," which means playing
unselfishly on offense and aggressively on defense, Brown said
there are three keys for success.

"We have to stay out of foul trouble; we have to make sure we
take great shots; and we can't allow them to get easy baskets,"
Brown said.

Jalen Rose of the Toronto Raptors, who was working as a
television reporter on Saturday, said there's one way his hometown
Pistons can beat the Lakers.

"We've got to kidnap Shaq," Rose joked. "It's going to be
harder in L.A., but when he gets to Detroit, we have to find a way
to get him from the hotel to the airport, instead of the arena."