In Dick Motta's system the center is permitted to perform such necessary tasks as rebounding, picking and blocking shots. Shooting is not normally part of his job. But the Chicago coach was worried about his offense even before Sloan's injury. Forwards Love and Walker were providing him with their usual exemplary shooting, averaging 45.1 points per game between them, but the rest of the Bulls seemed cowed by the Piston defense, particularly by Lanier whenever any of them moved into his area near the basket.
"We dug like hell every game to find something that would work," Motta said after the series win. "Finally in our meeting yesterday I decided we had to go heavily to the pick-and-roll so we could get Clifford open behind Lanier whenever he moved over to stop our penetration."
By the middle of the third period, Ray had six field goals, and Chicago enjoyed a lead that once ran as high as 19 points. All the while, Ray had defended brilliantly—Lanier had scored only eight points with 3:40 remaining in the third period—and was building his 15-10 rebounding advantage over his rival. It turned out" that Chicago needed everything it could get as the Pistons rallied in the closing minutes, with Lanier making a late spurt to finish with 23 points. Motta was happy to settle for a two-point edge. The Pistons had played the Bulls well, but they ended up buffaloed.