What looked to be another route early in the game became almost uncomfortably close late. The Detroit Pistons, who knocked down their first seven shots and led by as many as 20 in the third quarter, nearly let complacency get the best of them as they allowed the New Jersey Nets to storm back into the game and pull within five with under a minute left in the game.
Thankfully, Richard Hamilton hit a three with 24 seconds left to put Detroit up eight, assuring the Pistons they would be celebrating a playoff spot for the eighth season in a row. Hamilton, who had just two points at halftime, finished with ten points and nine assists.
The hero of the night, once again, was the gritty reserve guard, Will Bynum. In 28 minutes, Bynum had a team-high 20 points on 8-16 shooting. In the fourth quarter, he scored the Pistons first nine points to thwart the Nets initial charge back into the game.
Rasheed Wallace continued to back up his "swagger" comments with another strong game. He was the Pistons second leading scorer with 15 points on 6-10 shooting and a team-high three long balls. 'Sheed is shooting 50% from the field since returning to the starting lineup from his calf injury.
As I already mentioned, the Pistons guaranteed themselves a playoff spot for the eighth season in a row. They didn't necessarily need the win since Charlotte's loss tonight would have put them in anyway, but it's nice to see the Pistons earning their way.
They have now won three straight games, scoring 100+ points in all three, and remain tied for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference (Chicago holds the tiebreaker). The 'Stones will hop on a plane tonight and head to Indiana and get ready to face the Pacers tomorrow night.
SLAMMA JAMMA of the NIGHT
The dunk, or slamma jamma, of the night was undoubtedly the tip dunk by Jason Maxiell off a Rip miss with about 2:30 left in the game. Aside from the fact that I love emphatic tip dunks, this dunk was particularly special because Maxiell slammed it home over the Nets' leading scorer of the night, Ryan Anderson. Mad Max finished with eleven points and six rebounds in 24 minutes.