Pistons put their faith in innovative trainer's abilities

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Behind the closed blinds of the Detroit Pistons' training room, Richard Hamilton's left ankle was under the care of two of the best in the business Monday.

Pistons strength and conditioning coach Arnie Kander and athletic trainer Mike Abdenour were doing everything they could to get Hamilton ready for Game 2 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

"We kept him out today. He's getting treatment," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said after Monday's practice. "He's going to be OK. It's probably good that we have a couple days off and don't have a short turnaround, because it gives him more of a chance to get ready.

"We have the ability to get by without him, but he's going to want to play. Arnie and Mike will do a good job and will get him ready to go."

Kander said Hamilton might be healthy enough to practice Tuesday and said he expects him to play Wednesday night in Game 2.

That didn't seem to be a certainty when the All-Star shooting guard was hurt Sunday night in the opener of the Pistons' first-round series.

Hamilton limped off the court with a sprained left ankle after scoring his 21st point midway through the fourth quarter in Detroit's 92-74 win.

He rolled his left ankle earlier in the fourth after stepping on the foot of Bucks center Andrew Bogut, but he stayed in the game before later leaving in pain. Hamilton had X-rays, and the Pistons said they were negative.

"It swelled up, but that's what we got Arnie for," Hamilton said after the game.

Kander is regarded as a guru by the Pistons because of his innovative techniques and successful results. He earned a traditional degree in physical therapy but also uses naturopathic, homeopathic, holistic, energetic and Eastern medicine approaches.

When Grant Hill decided he didn't want to stay in Detroit six years ago, leading to a sign-and-trade deal with Orlando, he tried to hire Kander away to work with him exclusively.

"He's the best I've ever worked with," point guard Chauncey Billups said. "He's helped me so many times. We all have the confidence that Rip is going to be fine, especially with Arnie helping him."

The Bucks said reserve forward Toni Kukoc, who sat out Game 1, won't travel with the team to Detroit for Game 2 because of back spasms.

"Toni hasn't had any problems with this all season, but it just happened in practice," Milwaukee coach Terry Stotts said. "He has been missed as a shooter and a passer."