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True Hoop on Darko, Pistons win in NJ

Instead of (just) my usual post-game ramblings, let me direct you to True Hoop, where Henry Abbot offers his first-hand observations from New Jersey:

The Pistons' half-court offense under Flip Saunders, in my estimation, works like this: there are usually a couple of simple passes, and then at some point they get it to Rasheed Wallace. He's usually a step or two inside the three-point line. Then the whole defense just freaks out. Help is buzzing from all over, and the other Pistons hustle off in different directions and get ready to score. From there, the Pistons have a million options--and the defense remains off balance until a Piston gets an open shot.

Darko Milicic made an appearance in the second quarter and validated the two years on the bench he experienced under Larry Brown. I couldn't write fast enough to keep track of all the sucky things he did, but here are some highlights from my notes: "Darko’s first play: fouls RJ for a three-point play. His hair is shiny with grease. A couple of plays later Uncle Cliffie sticks a jumper in his face. On O he stands around. He’s huge. He had an offensive basket interference that wasn’t called. Darko threw a pass that was deflected, but luckily made it to a Piston anyway. He let Vince Carter score by wrapping his arm around him. Next play Kidd snuck into the lane and took a rebound from right in front of Darko." Milicic came in with the Pistons up ten near the end of the first quarter. Not six minutes later the Nets were up one when Milicic checked out. It was Detroit's only real bad stretch of the game. Darko did not return.

In the locker room afterwards, I saw a perfect portrait of a player maturing. One little memory I have always had of Rip Hamilton was from a game in Philadelphia four or five years ago, when he was still playing for Washington. He got out of the shower and realized he didn't have any lotion for his dry skin. He begged some off a teammate. I forget who. He took the bottle, dumped about half of it into his palms, and then just literally tossed the bottle aside, cap off, to spill across some seats--never to be returned. He rubbed the lotion into his upper body, and took questions from reporters. Just left a weird taste in my mouth that he had so needlessly stolen the lotion and then dumped it all over. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to announce that he has matured. Tonight he had his own high-end toiletry kit with an ample supply of his preferred brand of lotion, as well as the cologne that he spritzed all over himself. Veteran.

That's the meat, but there's more. I recommend checking out his site not just for this post but also his view on the NBA. It's become one of my daily reads, and if you're a hard-core basketball fan, it should probably be one of yours, too.

As for the game, yeah, Henry was right: Darko looked a bit lost, and he also missed at least one easy putback. But in his defense (and if my memory stands correct), the Pistons pretty much threw their whole second-string out there when Darko was in the game, so it's a bit unfair to blame their only bad stretch on just his presence. Check out the PopcornMachine GameFlow once it's posted (it's not yet as I write this) to see the whole picture.

The theme of the game was three-pointers -- Detroit drilled 10-of-20 while New Jersey went 0-for-7, easily the margin of victory in a 93-83 game. But don't let this little nugget escape your eye: Rip Hamilton shot 10-of-14 from the field and 8-of-8 from the stripe to finish with 30 points. Vince Carter shot 13-of-29 from the field and 1-of-2 at the line to finish with 27 points. It's all about efficiency, baby. Efficiency and lotion.

Detroit at New Jersey (with Darko)
[True Hoop]
Pistons 93, Nets 83 box score [USA Today]