Bench? We don't need no stinking bench! The starting lineup has been simply amazing the past two nights. One night after a double-overtime win in Memphis in which four starters played at least 46 minutes (including Ben Wallace playing 56 minutes), all five starters played at least 36 minutes at home against the Blazers on Tuesday.
Mo Evans, Antonio McDyess and Carlos Arroyo each pitched in a dozen minutes, but the bench as a whole contributed all of six points. Rip Hamilton led the way with 23, Chauncey Billups kicked in 19 and 10 dimes, Tayshaun Prince pitched in 21 and Ben Wallace scored 13 with 14 boards, two blocks and two steals.
Ben's scoring has jumped to 11.6 ppg in his last three games, and he's been a rebounding fool in his last five, averaging 14.2 rpg.
"I've got to get that guy a massage for Christmas," Billups said.
Rasheed Wallace managed just 11 points on 3-of-12 shooting, but all three of his buckets were from three-point land. Just a fluke, right? Not really. Over his last three games, Rasheed has shot just 10-of-33 (30.3%) from the field but 6-of-12 from beyond the arc. I'm not sure how I feel about that. The Pistons are most effective when Rasheed is draining that turnaround jumper on the low block, but I'd just as soon hope he keeps on drilling from long distance.
On the other hand, all that jump shooting doesn't do much to get him to the charity stripe. Billups was just 3-of-11 from the field (2-of-5 from three-point land), but he supplemented his scoring by going 11-of-12 from the stripe. Granted, six of those came on three-point fouls, but still, rarely a game goes by when he doesn't draw a lot of fouls on strong drives to the basket.
Regarding those three-point fouls, both called on rookie Jarrett Jack, the Blazers weren't amused:
"It's still a mystery to me," Jack said. "But I learned a valuable lesson. I can't put it in the referee's hands. I guess when he touches the ball, I've got to make sure my hands are up."
[Zach] Randolph was less diplomatic, plodding through the locker room claiming robbery to anyone who would listen, even while teammate Steve Blake advised him to keep his thoughts private.
"But we both know it," Randolph said. "He came out and flopped. He wasn't even touched and they get six free throws. That's ridiculous. For what? Go watch the replays."
Them's the breaks, kid. When you make enough plays in crunch time, even the refs will begin to expect it now and again.
Randolph simply killed our frontcourt for 37 points and 11 rebounds, the second straight night the opposing power forward has given Detroit huge problems. I'm not saying anything, I'm just saying. . .
But yeah, 20-3. Good stuff. You wanna know what makes it better? San Antonio losing their second in a row on a last-second bucket by Andrew Bogut. From the looks of things, the Aussie is living in Rip City, ya dig? It's not just a name. It's a movement.
Respect the mask.