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Jones chasing Hamilton

MIAMI -- Eddie Jones took a seat on the Miami bench late in the first quarter of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, and Detroit shooting guard Richard Hamilton suddenly couldn't miss.

In less than three minutes, Hamilton -- free of the defensive shackle that Jones is -- made three shots to end the quarter.

Consider that a lesson learned for the Heat.

Hamilton has gotten his points so far in this series, averaging a team-high 18.5 per game. But Jones and the rest of Miami's perimeter defenders are making the Pistons' best shooter work for everything he gets.

"You've got to be right where he's at," Jones said. "Contest the shots. Don't die on screens. Don't just give him wide-open
shots. He's a great shooter. Anytime he's coming off those
downscreens and he gets to that gap, he's pretty much automatic."

Hamilton, who was getting treatment on his hurting right calf
and did not speak to reporters after the Pistons' practice in
Auburn Hills, Mich., on Friday, said after Game 2 that the injury
is affecting the balance of his jump shot, causing him to slightly
alter how he uses his legs while shooting.

But clearly, the Heat -- Jones in particular -- also have a bit to
do with Hamilton's struggles.

"I can't tell y'all what I know about him," Jones said. "I
study a lot of film. How about that?"

With Jones on the floor, Hamilton is shooting 11-for-37 in the
series, or 29.7 percent.

Without Jones shadowing his every move, Hamilton has taken six
shots and made four.

"I think we've done a good job with Rip Hamilton," Heat coach
Stan Van Gundy said. "We haven't given him anything easy. He's
probably looking and saying that we haven't done anything, that
he's just had a lot of shots that he's missed. And both things are
true."

Detroit's frontline players like Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace
are perhaps among the NBA's best at setting screens, and Hamilton
excels coming off those human roadblocks.

"They make sure they try to get the guy open," Jones said.
"They do everything to get him open."

Miami is also finding chasing Hamilton isn't much fun, either.
Reserve guard Keyon Dooling, one of Miami's fastest players and
quickest defenders, said Hamilton might be the best-conditioned
player in the NBA.

"There's not too many players like Rip Hamilton. ... And when
he's curling into the paint for short shots, he's probably the best
in the game at that," Dooling said. "They do a good job of
getting him open off screens and then they do a good job of
countering if you try to go over the top."

It's Jones' primary job to stop him.

He's been oft-maligned during his stay in Miami, high
expectations accompanying the seven-year, $86 million contract he
signed a few years back. Fans have booed him incessantly at times.
Yet with the emergence of Dwyane Wade and the arrival of Shaquille O'Neal in Miami, Jones' role has changed.

When he went to the foul line late in Miami's Game 2 win, the
sellout crowd stood and roared "Ed-die! Ed-die!" -- even though
Wade, with 40 points, was the star of the show and Jones was merely
2-for-8 from the floor with six points, seven rebounds and four
turnovers in 42 minutes.

Defense won him the acclaim.

"I'm just happy to be on a winning team, with a chance to enjoy
this," Jones said. "I think it's gravy that the fans are giving
me a lot of love. That's extra. That I'm playing on a good team and
having a chance to do something great, that means a lot more."