Nets confident, Pistons embarrassed

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Detroit Pistons are hurting in the Eastern Conference semifinals -- and it's more than Rasheed Wallace's foot and Chauncey Billups' back.

Their stingy defense suddenly has holes. The offense is nonexistent, with the exception of Richard Hamilton.

Even more of a concern is that the Pistons' 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and their momentum is gone following a 94-79 loss to the New Jersey Nets in Game 4 Tuesday night.

"We definitely gave them confidence," Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince said. "The momentum has shifted their way, especially how they won."

The how has to be a major concern for the Pistons.

After dominating play in the first two games in Michigan, the Pistons came to New Jersey with visions of avenging last year's sweep in the conference finals with one of their own.

They left embarrassed. They never held the lead in either of the games here.

They shot poorly, didn't play much defense and were hurt on the offensive end with Wallace bothered by plantar fasciatis and Billups limited by back spasms that began early in Game 4.

Wallace scored six points on 1-for-5 shooting in 25 minutes Tuesday night. Billups had six points on 2-for-7 shooting in 27 minutes.

"I don't care if Chauncey and Rasheed were healthy, it would not have mattered tonight," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "They [the Nets] were great. They did all the things they were supposed
to do."

Wallace refused to blame his injury. He said he had a relapse, but he expects to be ready for Game 5 on Friday night in The Palace at Auburn Hills.

"I'll be all right," he said three times.

Billups said the injury to Wallace is painful.

"It is bothering him a lot," Billups said. "A guy like that who depends so much on his athletic ability, and not being able to push off or jump, that's huge."

The Pistons also haven't helped themselves with two poor all-around games.

After having three players score in double figures in Game 3, the Pistons only had Hamilton do it in Game 4. He matched a career playoff high with 30 points on 11-for-20 shooting.

"To come out and play like that, there is no excuse," said center Ben Wallace, who had six points and 15 rebounds. "There is no excuse for that, especially in the playoffs when we are talking about putting ourselves in position to compete for a championship. That's not championship basketball the way we played the last two games."

Veteran Lindsey Hunter also had no explanation for the last two games.

"It's frustrating for us as players not to come out and put forth the effort we are accustomed to," Hunter said. "It's frustrating when you don't give yourself a chance to remotely even have a chance to win the game."

The Pistons can't afford to play like that Friday.