While Karl Malone graciously spoke on a variety of issues, including his injured right knee, Gary Payton answered questions about his ineffectiveness, and Shaquille O'Neal took a series of verbal pokes at teammate Kobe Bryant, who fired back a salvo at O'Neal.

In addition to all that, Coach Phil Jackson talked about the management of the Los Angeles Lakers' star players, seemingly in their own worlds, posing different views on how to rally from a 2-1 deficit to Detroit in the NBA Finals.

"I think I should write a book about that," Jackson joked.

On the flip side, the Pistons, who are coming off an 88-68 victory Thursday night in Game 3 and are six bad minutes from being up three games to none in the best-of-seven series, addressed the media Friday in the same manner in which they've played: as a team. There was little talk of individuality and a lot of discussion about playing the right way. They didn't want to hear anything about winning a championship, but welcomed talk about Sunday's Game 4.

"We feel, as a unit, we are a great unit," said Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups, who has had his way when he wants to against the Lakers but has resisted going on prolonged scoring binges. "We know they have got some great individual players that are almost unstoppable to play one-on-one. For us, we've just got a great unit. We can hurt you in so many different ways."

Detroit's group of nice guys -- volatile forward Rasheed Wallace has fallen in line -- may have found the formula, like the NFL's New England Patriots and baseball's Florida Marlins, to overcome star power with good, old-fashioned teamwork.

Center Ben Wallace is the only Piston named to an all-star team this season, and that was because of his defense. Every starter but forward Tayshaun Prince was cast from another team (the Washington Wizards once had both Wallaces and leading scorer Richard Hamilton). Prince, meantime, had to spend the season hearing critics ponder Detroit's decision not to draft Carmelo Anthony to replace him.

"If you want to go down the roster as far as talent goes, by far the Lakers got the most talent," Ben Wallace said. "As far as going out playing together as one unit I think we're the better team in that regard. We don't depend on that one guy to carry us night in, night out. That's how we play basketball."

The Pistons, led by Hamilton (23 points per game), have five players averaging at least nine points with four of them also delivering at least 5.7 rebounds against the Lakers. O'Neal (25.7) and Bryant (23) are the only Los Angeles players averaging more than 6.7 points. Malone (8.0) and O'Neal (8.7) are the only players bringing in more than four rebounds per game.

Detroit has held the Lakers to 81 points per game, with their 68 points in Game 3 a Los Angeles franchise playoff low. The Pistons are averaging seven more rebounds per game and have held Los Angeles to 41 percent shooting. O'Neal gave mild credit to the Pistons, but said the Lakers' problems mainly are internal, and, in a dig that seemed aimed at Bryant, said some of his teammates have gotten away from what got them there: him.

"Their guards are going to the bucket and mixing it up," O'Neal said. "We are just relying on the jumper a little too much. We have a lot of weapons on this team and you try to keep everybody involved. But I've always said, that if a team is going to play me single coverage, we've got to make them pay and we haven't made this team pay yet."

Responded Bryant: "We're not worried about getting him more touches. We're worried about winning the game."

Jackson said his stars need to do the special things to generate victories in crucial stretches but "they have to understand that there's still a fine line that they have to walk." In other words, moving the ball, setting picks and boxing out for rebounds lead to the dunks and open shots that generate wins. Just look at the Pistons.

"I don't think we have any one guy they can look at that can bail us out, so it's imperative that we play as a team on both ends of the court," Pistons Coach Larry Brown said. "Teams win championships. Even the superstars figure out a way to be parts of teams."