-- Detroit Pistons guard Richard Hamilton didn't go as far as Seattle's Ray Allen and call San Antonio Spurs forward Bruce Bowen's style of defense "sissy ball." And he hasn't pulled a Kobe Bryant and called it "dirty." No, Hamilton came up with a new adjective to describe the relentless play of Bowen: "Crafty."
"I wouldn't say dirty. He's crafty," Hamilton said of Bowen, a first-team all defensive player. "He's a physical dude. He hits you with all parts of his body -- hips, chest, elbows, everything. He's very crafty. He won't use his hands, but he'll use something else. He tries to be sneaky with it."
Bowen frowned when he heard of Hamilton's complaints.
"I'm crafty. Nah, I don't think so. It's just funny, to constantly hear certain things like that. It seems to be a top song right now," Bowen said. "He said that I hit him. Just watch every screen Rip receives; there is something that goes on and it's not always the defense initiating it. I think everybody gets away with something."
Loud and Clear
Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said he wouldn't have to give Tim Duncan a pep talk after Duncan had just 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting in Game 3 -- his worst career performance in a Finals game. "I said nothing to him -- well, I did. I sat next to him and said, 'Do I need to say anything or do anything? Or do you already know what I'm going to say?' " Popovich said Duncan nodded. "I said, 'It's been great talking to you.' " Duncan usually doesn't need too much motivation. He has followed up poor playoff performances with dominant games. He missed 15 of 22 shots in the first round's Game 1 loss against Denver and went 11 of 15 in Game 2. After going 5 of 19 in Game 3, he had 39 points in Game 4. In the second round against Seattle, he followed a 7-for-19 performance with 35 points. And, after missing 9 of 12 free throws and scoring 15 points in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against Phoenix, Duncan had 31 points and 15 rebounds in the clincher.
But in Game 4 on Thursday, Duncan followed up with another poor game, shooting just 5 of 17 and scoring 16 points.
League, Union to Talk Again
Talks on a new collective bargaining agreement will resume Friday in New York. The league and the union broke off talks at the beginning of the month. An agreement needs to be reached before July 1 to avoid a lockout. NBA Commissioner David Stern and players' union director Billy Hunter both held news conferences this week to explain their positions.