Pistons 101, Nets 83
|Boxscore | Recap | Quotes | Postgame Wallpaper|
The Pistons won their sixth consecutive game – and sixth straight over the Nets, dating back to last season – Wednesday at the Izod Center in New Jersey. After a tightly contested first half, the Pistons shot 79 percent in the third quarter and took a 16-point lead into the fourth. It was never threatened and even escalated to 20 in the final minute.
Rip Hamilton had 22 points, shooting 10-of-16 from the floor, with four assists, while Chauncey Billups clearly won the point-guard battle with 17 points and 10 assists. New Jersey’s Jason Kidd had 12 assists but shot 0-for-8 from the field. His only points came on a pair of free throws midway through the fourth, when the game was virtually decided. Vince Carter scored 21 and Richard Jefferson had 18 to lead the Nets, which could not stop the Pistons from engulfing their two-game win streak. The Pistons now have 21 wins, second most in the league behind Boston’s 22.
HAMILTON: “Well, it was a good game. I think the second half we really picked it up, guys really shared the ball tonight, really defended on all their players and did a great job to get a win.”
The story of the game in Pistons red, white and blue
– The Pistons opened each half on fire. They opened the game 6-for-6 from the field, with four starters contributing, before Rasheed Wallace missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key six minutes in. The Nets also shot pretty well out of the blocks, and the Pistons needed a Wallace triple in the final seconds to reclaim the lead after one quarter, 26-24.
FLIP SAUNDERS: “We shot so well early I thought that might be the worst thing because I think we thought it was going to be that easy all night.”
The Pistons opened the second half in even more torrid fashion, making their first seven shots to open their first double-digit lead, 60-48. Wallace made back-to-back buckets following a New Jersey timeout, and the Nets were playing catch-up the rest of the way.
Blue Collar – The Pistons are hot and so is Antonio McDyess. It’s not mere coincidence. Facing little resistance from the Nets’ inexperienced frontcourt, the 12th-year vet had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, nine rebounds and several significant hustle plays. His offensive rebound on a missed Jason Maxiell free throw got him to the line as well. He drained both to give Detroit a 43-42 lead, their first since 28-27 at the beginning of the second quarter.
In the third quarter, McDyess chased down a loose rebound into the first row. His save resulted in Rasheed Wallace’s dunk, capping the 11-0 run that put Detroit ahead for good. He scored seven of his 15 points during the critical third quarter.
Red Flag – The Pistons looked brilliant three-fourths of the time, with a second-quarter sag as their only blemish. New Jersey controlled much of the period, leading by as many as six after the Pistons reserves couldn’t jumpstart an offense that had started to stagnate. Detroit reserves (Afflalo, Hayes, Hunter and Maxiell) shot a combined 2-for-9 in the quarter. No harm was done as the starters scored 12 of the Detroit’s final 13 points to reclaim a 45-44 halftime lead. The reserves performed better in the second half, but this win came solely on the strength of the starters.
Pivotal plays, frozen moments and lasting images from another impressive win.
Net Loss – Giving away the ball 16.4 times per game, the Nets are the second-most prolific turnover team in the league. Against a Pistons team playing some of its best defense in recent memory, that was bound to spell trouble for New Jersey. It did in the early going. The Pistons had five steals in the first quarter, with a couple converted into fast-break points. McDyess knocked away Kidd pass, leading to a Hamilton layup. Two possessions later, Billups stripped Jefferson, setting up a Tayshaun Prince dunk and a 19-14 lead.
Rip Roarin’ Third – The Pistons’ 11-0 run in the third quarter signaled the beginning of the end for the Nets’ chances, but Hamilton was just getting started. He continued to pour it on after the run, negating the Nets’ chances of a comeback. Hamilton scored 11 of his 22 points in the third, including seven straight for one stretch. Another Rip jumper put Detroit ahead comfortably, 76-60, entering the fourth.
LAWRENCE FRANK: “Really, it was really the third quarter. You look at them and you study them, the third quarter has been their quarter. … And yet what happened is Billups and Hamilton got it going in that third – I don’t know if they missed a shot between the two of them … so now you better be dog-gone perfect …and then what happened is, we started to lose our flow and our organization … our defense was passive in that they were getting a lot of rhythm shots and you have to give them credit.”
HAMILTON: “Well the one thing I try to do is move without the ball and the guys did excellent jobs of setting screens. Chauncey did an excellent job of finding me when I was open, especially catching the ball in rhythm, that’s real key: Trying to catch the ball in rhythm and trying to knock down shots.”
Give’em a break –Hayes got the break he needed early in the fourth quarter. After missing his first three field-goal attempts, Hayes hoisted a triple try in front of the New Jersey bench that appeared to come after the shot clock expired. Despite the Nets’ protests, the bucket counted and Detroit went ahead 79-62.
Flash of the future? – Rodney Stuckey scored seven points in 11 minutes, including a nifty play the likes of which Pistons fans have been waiting two months to see. Stuckey went baseline around Malik Allen, initiated contact with 7-footer Jason Collins and still laid it in off the glass, bumping Detroit’s lead to 81-62.
Does 2007 really have to end? The Pistons are closing the year out in spectacular fashion, going 12-2 in December. Not even a couple days off for Christmas couldn’t upset the Pistons’ rhythm as they cruise toward 2008. Fortunately, if there is something magical about this month, the Pistons still have a few contests before New Year’s, including a home-and-home with Indiana on Friday and Saturday and the Bucks on New Year’s Eve.
SAUNDERS: “You hope to continue, and that’s the one scary thing when we took the two days off. ‘Well is (New Jersey) going to catch us?’ I thought it was more important from a mental standpoint that we took those days off, kind of re-grouped because we have a lot of games coming up here.”