Spurs' Bowen emerges as thorn in Pistons' side

Defense, three-pointers prove enough to throw Detroit's plans off guard

Pro Basketball

June 14, 2005|By Sam Smith | Sam Smith,CHICAGO TRIBUNE

SAN ANTONIO - Manu Ginobili is making the Detroit Pistons gasp.

Bruce Bowen is making Richard Hamilton crazy.

With the NBA Finals coming to Detroit tonight for Game 3, Ginobili is averaging a series-high 26.5 points on 67 percent field-goal shooting, including 12.5 points in the fourth quarters alone. He has become the runaway series Most Valuable Player thus far and a worldwide star in leading the San Antonio Spurs to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

In Game 2, as Ginobili again rescued the Spurs down the stretch like the great ones do, Bowen thwarted the Pistons' defensive plan. They wanted to overplay Ginobili and deny the middle, but Bowen hit four three-pointers while scoring 15 points in the second consecutive Spurs rout of the defending NBA champions.

"I've had many obstacles in my life, and I have no time to cry for myself or worry or complain," said Bowen, who has played in France and has been released by five NBA teams, including the Bulls.

Having the right attitude, the Spurs' attitude, might become the new mantra, and Bowen is just one of many on the team who exemplify that with humbleness and hard-hitting play that belies the Spurs' reputation as Sunday-schoolers.

"It's tough, man," said Hamilton, who once again was flummoxed by Bowen's defense and spent most of the game arguing with the officials, earning a technical foul and generally contributing to the Pistons' unraveling.

The Pistons will be all but done if they don't win tonight, and much will depend on Hamilton, who has been reduced to a whining, ineffective loose part by Bowen's constant harassment. Hamilton, the Pistons' leading scorer in the regular season and postseason, is averaging 14 points on 12-for-36 shooting. It's not a good thing for Detroit when Bowen outscores Hamilton, as he did in Game 2.

"We felt though the whistling didn't go our way on some plays, we should have learned from the Miami series, the Indiana series," Hamilton said. "Go out and play hard and play our game."

The Spurs have taken their game away, holding the Pistons below 40 percent shooting. Ginobili and Tim Duncan, who is averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds, figured to handle the offense. But it has been Bowen's play on Hamilton that has slowed the Pistons and raised frustrated cries from Hamilton.

Bowen, 34 today, was undrafted out of Fresno State without a true position and great skill. He could score some and averaged almost 30 points per game in a weak French league, but he realized that is not how a player like him makes the NBA.

"In the CBA, it was all about getting into the [NBA]," he said. "It wasn't about team basketball. Guys cared about what they scored."

The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

NBA Finals

San Antonio vs. Detroit

Best of seven; *-if necessary

All games on chs. 2, 7

(San Antonio leads series 2-0)

Game 1: San Antonio, 84-69

Game 2: San Antonio, 97-76

Today: at Detroit, 9 p.m.

Thursday: at Detroit, 9 p.m.

*Sunday: at Detroit, 9p.m.

*Next Tues.: at San Ant., 9 p.m.

*June 23: at San Antonio, 9p.m.

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