PISTONS NEED TWO IN TEXAS
* After being slammed twice in San Antonio, the Pistons used the series' change of scenery to Detroit to turn things around. Until last night. With the best-of-seven NBA Finals tied 2-2, the Spurs scored an unlikely 96-95 overtime win to take a 3-2 advantage.
San Antonio's Robert Horry hit a three to put the Spurs up one with 5.8 seconds to play in overtime after Pistons' forward Rasheed Wallace went for a double-team on Manu Ginobili in the corner. It was a tactic that left Detroit coach Larry Brown speechless after the game, according to the AP game report.
"You can't go back and say shoulda, woulda, coulda," said Wallace, who scored 12 points (6-15 FG) and had five boards, three steals and four blocks in 41 minutes. "It was caught in the corner and I just tried to double. Now we have a day and a half. We're cool."
Wallace put the Pistons ahead 95-91 with a basket at 1:43 to go in OT. Horry stormed back with a lefthanded jam and then the open three-pointer at the 5.8 mark. The Pistons still had a chance for the win, but Richard Hamilton did not get a good look against Tony Parker and missed badly from just inside the free-throw line on the game's last possession.
The best-of-seven NBA Finals will finish in San Antonio on Tuesday (Game 6) or Thursday (Game 7).
BITTER, DRAMATIC END FOR CALABRIA
* After falling behind 2-1 to Bologna on Tuesday, Dante Calabria and Armani Jeans Milano needed a win at home on Thursday to return to Bologna for a decisive Game 5 for the Italian League championship. Milano held a 65-64 lead with under one minute to go in their bid to extend the series one more game.
A three-point try by Calabria (13 points, 4-10 FG, 2-8 3-pt. FG, and nine rebounds) missed and Bologna secured the rebound, down by one with five seconds to play. They rushed up court for a hurried three-point shot by top scorer Ruben Douglas (New Mexico). The horn sounded as the ball was launched toward the basket from 26 feet away. The ball went in the basket, but the refs had to check a courtside monitor for the replay to determine if it should count.
Upon further review –– it was ruled that Douglas released the ball with a mere 0.28 of a second showing on the clock and the basket counted. AJ Milano's otherwise remarkable season, that included a fourth-place finish and a 3-2 semifinal playoff win over top-seeded Benetton Treviso, had ended, 67-65.
Bologna's Douglas (16 points, 6-9 FG, 3-5 3-pt. FG) was as unsure as everyone else whether the shot left his hand in time. "I really wasn't sure," he said, according to fibaeurope.com. "I knew the ball was going in, but didn't know whether it was valid or not. Now I want to go to Las Vegas and bet everything I've got."
Calabria concluded his Italian league playoff run averaging 14.7 ppg in 12 games played, up from 13.0 ppg during the regular season. In the finals, Calabria averaged 15.5 ppg and 4.0 rpg.
WILLIAMS VOTED 2ND-BEST IN RUSSIA
* A poll of 80 players by the Russian newspaper Sport-Express found CSKA Moscow's Australian center David Andersen to be considered as the Russian Superleague's top player. Shammond Williams (Unics Kazan) finished second in the poll followed by Murray State's ('96) Marcus Brown (CSKA Moscow).
After playing the 2003-04 NBA season for Orlando and New Orleans for 14.4 minutes per game over 53 games, down from 24.1 minutes per game the previous season, Williams informed the Russian press during the season that he left the NBA to take the challenge of playing in Russia in order to spend more time on the court and work on his skills rather than be on the bench in the NBA.
With his team, UNICS Kazan, active in three competitions (Superleague and playoffs, Cup of Russia and FIBA Europe League) Williams played and started in 59 of the 62 (40-22) games on the schedule. Williams was almost always on the court, playing on average 33.6 minutes of the 40-minute contests played under international rules. The former NBA player was also busy filling up the stat sheet with 1,041 points (17.6 pg), 344 assists (5.8 pg), 253 rebounds (4.3 pg) and 86 steals (1.5 pg).
He converted 335 of 700 field goal attempts (.479), which includes 141-for-318 (.443) from behind the three-point line. From the free-throw stripe Williams connected on 230 of 277 attempts for a rate of 84.1 percent, slightly down from the 87.9 percent (51-58) he shot during his last season in the NBA.
Williams is also a member of the national team of the Republic of Georgia and will be back in action with them in September.
RETURN FOR RICE DELAYED
* Former Tar Heel King Rice still intends to be employed again as a basketball coach. It won't be as an assistant coach for Nebraska however. After accepting in principle a job with Nebraska recently, Rice withdrew his name from consideration. "They started dragging their feet on a couple of things and I told them I wasn't interested," Rice told the Binghamton (N.Y.) Press & Sun-Bulletin last week. "I
waited 8-9 days. I called and said, 'Coach, I'm sorry but I'm not ready to do this so I'm pulling out.' "
Rice, a Binghamton, N.Y. native, has been planning his return to coaching since February by spending time with Dean Smith and Roy Williams. "They helped me a whole bunch. Wrote me a letter and sent it to probably the top 25 coaches in the country, highly recommending me," said Rice, the article noted.
The plan now calls for Rice to land a coaching job by August or have his family (wife and 4-year-old son) move from Long Beach, California, to Chapel Hill and "take a year off and study basketball with coach Smith."
Rice also noted that for the last three summers he has been the head coach of the national team of the Bahamas and he has often been encouraged to be involved in coaching. "So, that's what I'm going to do," said Rice.