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East is a battle of attrition

The Pacers can't seem to score. Good thing for them the Piston can't either.

By wire services
Published May 28, 2004

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - While most of the Pacers waited on the team bus, Ron Artest stayed on the court hoisting jump shots until he was drenched in sweat.

Surprisingly, many went in.

Unfortunately for Artest and the Pacers, the shots haven't been falling in the first three games of the East final against the Pistons.

Artest took 57 shots and made 15, establishing himself as the poster child for the type of offensive ineptitude that has defined this best-of-seven series. Indiana has shot a shade under 32 percent while dropping two of three games.

"We're playing horrible," Artest said, a statement that can be appreciated by anyone who has watched the series.

The teams shun the running game and grind out their offenses in the rare moments when they're not fouling each other.

Detroit's total in Wednesday's 85-78 Game 3 win was the most by either team, which begs this question: Is the Pistons defense really that good, or is the Pacers offense truly that bad?

"We're that good. We've been doing that all season," Pistons forward Ben Wallace said. "The last thing I want to do is sit here and defend the way two of the best teams in the league play basketball. Call it what you want."

Indiana's offensive woes haven't been limited to Artest.

Reggie Miller made one field goal in two of the three games, Jermaine O'Neal is shooting 36 percent and the Pacers are 12-for-54 for 3-pointers. Indiana has failed to score 20 in eight of the 12 quarters.

"You've got to be able to adjust in the playoffs. They're going to take things away, and right now I don't have a counter to their defense," Artest said.

Part of what is bothering Artest is the defense of Tayshaun Prince, the long-armed small forward who has caused Artest to alter his jump shot.

As Artest worked on his jumper Thursday, assistant coach Chad Forcier held up a three-foot broom to simulate a hand in Artest's face. Given the way Prince has bothered Artest, a 6-foot broom would have been more appropriate.

[Last modified May 28, 2004, 01:00:27]


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