Another Loss Despite Some Fight: Blazers 97, Pistons 93

What Happened:

The Blazers jumped out to an 18-point lead in the first half behind a career night from MARTEL WEBSTER (28 points and 6-13 from 3-point range). The Pistons scored six of the last eight points in the second quarter and stormed all the way back in the third quarter, actually taking the lead at one point.

Near the end of the third, Juwan Howard took exception to a "flagrant" foul committed by Charlie Villanueva on Rudy Fernandez, which triggered a little scuffle. (Was I the only one who thought Rudy should've won a best supporting actor award for that?) Anyway, both Juwan Howard and the "half nuts" Villanueva, according to the Blazers' version of Mike & Mike, had to be restrained. It resulted in a double-T and a flagrant on CV, but both remained in the game. The show would go on...

Pistons and Blazers went back and forth in the final frame, but some late mistakes from the Pistons veterans cost them. Ben Wallace had a somewhat out-of-control foul on Andre Miller when the shot-clock was running out that rewarded Miller, one of the best free-throw shooters in the game, with two freebies. Tayshaun Prince then committed a turnover when the Pistons had a chance to take the lead with less than 25 seconds left. Down three, Richard Hamilton hurried a three with more than enough time left on the clock to get a better look. Prince hustled down the rebound, which allowed for an open look from CV, but he clanked a three.

A couple missed free-throws from the Blazers, a missed three from Stuckey, a converted free-throw for the Blazers and a missed half-court shot from Charlie V. later, the Blazers walked out of The Palace with a four-point win.

The Good:

The comeback was good, especially when most fans had already chalked the game up as another wash before halftime. Richard Hamilton had another solid game (and cut down the turnovers). He finished with 25 points on 6-16 shooting (11-11 from the FT line), nine assists, and five boards.

The Bad:

The sluggish start. The Pistons outscored the Blazers by 10 in the second half, but needing to come back from 18 down leaves a team with only so much energy to finish off the comeback.

The outlook for Tayshaun Prince probably falls under 'the bad.' He scored six points on 2-6 shooting in 32+ minutes, while the rookie that should have Prince looking over his shoulder, Jonas Jerebko, played better in his 26+ minutes.

The Roger Kint Unsung Hero:

Chris F. Wilcox put up a pretty (surprisingly) solid game. He had eight points, eight rebounds, and a steal in just 17+ minutes (that's 17 & 17 PER36). He was a second best plus-3 on the team. Coming in a close second is Rodney Stuckey (20 points despite starting slow).

The Takeaway:

Moral victories are for perennial losers (see the Detroit Lions), so I'm not ready to give the Pistons one here. Kuester was visibly a lot more vocal in the 2nd half, so it makes me wonder where that intensity was in the first half (from him AND the players). Exactly how long does it take for a team to actually figure it out?

On the somewhat bright side, the Pistons are still only 5 1/2 out of the 8th spot in the playoffs and play the Nets twice within the next two weeks! The Pistons have until Wednesday to mentally and physically prep for another game when they take on Memphis. Wins are becoming more and more essential.

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