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Rivers cries foul on referees

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 22, 2003

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- An upbeat Doc Rivers became a bit bristly at one point after Orlando's afternoon practice Monday.

A day after the Magic's 99-94 win over Detroit in Game 1 of the best-of-seven East series opener, the coach took exception to some calls that gave the Pistons 47 free-throw attempts to the Magic's 25.

"If they shoot 47 free throws and we are, in my mind, the aggressor, how in the hell do we not go to the line more ourselves?" Rivers said. "I've never seen a game where (officials) call more off-the-ball fouls than on-the-ball fouls."

The Magic surrendered 40 or more free throws only three times during the regular season. The Pistons tied the season high set by Cleveland in a 113-108 loss to the Magic on Jan. 29.

In spite of Detroit's 31.6 percent shooting, the Pistons made 40 free throws to stay close until the end. Part of the problem: The Magic sent the Pistons' first- and third-best free-throw shooters, Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, to the line a combined 31 times. Hamilton made all 12 and Billups was 15-for-19.

T-MAC READY FOR REVAMPED D: The Pistons largely employed a single-coverage approach to guarding Tracy McGrady, which led to his franchise-record 43 points. After the game, some players talked about guarding McGrady more aggressively and changing their scheme. McGrady was unfazed.

"Whatever they want to do, it's not going to bother me," he said. "I'm going to play my same game. If they want to be physical, let them be physical. I know how to do the same and I know how to prevent myself from getting caught up in whatever they want to do."

GARRITY A GO-GETTER: Magic forward Pat Garrity, who scored two but had eight rebounds in 20 gritty minutes off the bench, said he felt "a little sore, but pretty good" after practice. The forward averaged more than 10 points during the season, but a bruised pelvis has hindered his mobility resulting in diminished offense.

But Rivers recognizes the intangibles Garrity brings. They talked before the game about drawing a defender off McGrady during cuts to the basket.

"He was a great decoy," Rivers said. "The one thing about Pat Garrity, if we told him to stand behind the 3-point line and never move, I guarantee there would be a defensive player right next to him."

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