L.A. hasn't seen a defense like this

Updated: June 11, 2004, 7:57 PM ET
By Brian James | Special to ESPN Insider
Brian James, a former assistant coach with the Pistons, Raptors and Wizards, spent the 2003-'04 season scouting for the SuperSonics. Insider tapped his NBA expertise for the NBA playoffs.

The city of Detroit is electric, and deservedly so. The Pistons have taken back the momentum of the NBA Finals, and are starting the sprint to the finish line. You can see it both in the Lakers' and the Pistons' faces. Let's be honest, here: the Lakers are in trouble.

Of the 12 quarters played in these Finals, the Pistons have outplayed the Lakers in at least 10. The crowd at The Palace was at a fever pitch Thursday night, helping raise Detroit's defensive intensity en route to an 88-68 victory over the Lakers in Game 3. L.A. has not seen a defense this tenacious or well-balanced all year. There are no weak links.

L.A. never reached 20 points in any quarter Thursday, a defensive goal Detroit coach Larry Brown has instilled in his players. Only four times in the 12 quarters of the series have the Lakers managed at least 20 points.

There were many subtle changes in Game 3 that helped Detroit get off to its fast start, and not look back.