For Adrian Dantley, his first experience in an NBA Championship-deciding game didn't turn out at all the way he had hoped.
For one thing, his team, the Detroit Pistons, were on the short end of a 108-105 score - losing, in the process, the NBA title to the Lakers.For another thing, Dantley wasn't on the floor in the final 10 minutes and 22 seconds of play. He watched from the bench, powerless to do anything about the final outcome.
The ex-Utah Jazz star was one of the last Detroit players to come into the locker room after the game, not appearing from the training room until more than 30 minutes had expired. Like his teammates, he looked drained and disappointed. But he did not second-guess coach Chuck Daly.
"I didn't play at the end because it was the coach's decision," said Dantley. "He did that a lot during the year so this wasn't something new. It didn't bother me.
"It's real disappointing, coming this close and not getting the championship," said the 12-year veteran. "The group that was out there (at the end) was doing well. It was a courageous effort."
Dantley finished with 16 points, hitting 5-of-11 field goals and 6-of-8 free throws. He also had five rebounds and two steals while playing 31 minutes.
He scored 11 points in the first half while playing 17 minutes and then played the entire third quarter, getting five of Detroit's 21 points. In the meantime, however, L. A. was on a scoring spree, getting 36 points in the third quarter and then adding five more quick points in the first 1:38 of the fourth quarter.
It was at that point that Daly took out Dantley and Isiah Thomas and inserted Joe Dumars and Bill Laimbeer in their place.
Thereafter, the Pistons rallied, turning a 15-point deficit at 88-73 into a two-point deficit at 100-98 in the next eight minutes of play.
Then the rally stalled, however, as the Lakers kept the Pistons at bay the final two minutes of the game.
"The third quarter, we just couldn't make our shots, and that hurt," said Dantley.
"That third quarter was a killer," added Daly. "We just used bad offensive judgment a lot of times. We let them back in the game. But I loved the way our club fought back."
Dantley said he expects the Pistons to be primarily the same ball club next year. He foresees few personnel changes. "We have four strong veterans," he said. "I think we'll have the same team next year."
The man who, just two days ago, was the odds-on favorite to win the MVP award for the Championship Series, was asked again about not playing during crunch time. "If you were coaching," said a reporter, "would you have put yourself in?"
"That's not the point," said Dantley. "What happened was Chuck's decision. He does what he thinks best."