A lot of people noticied the NBA's decision to heavily promote the Shaq-Kob... err, Heat-Lakers game over the Pistons-Spurs, including Gregg Popovich:
"We're not only thrilled, but we think it's a huge responsibility to be playing the JV game," he said. "Because, you know, you've got to do well to keep the people around for the varsity game. So we're taking this very seriously."
After losing Game 7 of the Finals on June 23, the Pistons waited nearly six months for their rematch with the Spurs on Christmas Day. It was clear from tip-off the Pistons wanted this game a more -- they held the Spurs to a franchise-low eight points (all scored by Tony Parker) in the first quarter. And unlike last June, Detroit came through with a strong offensive surge in the fourth quarter, turning a four-point lead after three quarters into a 15-point victory by scoring 28 points in the fourth quarter.
Ben Wallace exploded for nine boards in the first quarter and finished with 21 for the game. He also scored 10 points to post his fourth double-double in his last five games, averaging 12 points and 15.2 rebounds per game in that span. He made some waves in the papers after complaining about his production earlier this month, but he's been a rock ever since.
A bit lost in the excitement of Ben's big game was Antonio McDyess' work on the boards -- he chipped in a season-high 13 boards to go with 10 points, drawing high praise from Chauncey Billups after the game:
"He's better than anybody in this league off the bench," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "He's better than 80% of the starters in this league. He's something we've got to go to when he comes in the game because he's a mismatch almost every night."
Billups was actually on the receiving end of some high praise himself, coming from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich:
"Chauncey's having an MVP season, in my opinion," Popovich said before the game. "I don't think enough people mention this, maybe they do, I don't read that much. I haven't heard his name ever. It's huge when you have a guy that's having an MVP season because everybody kind of plays around him. He's made everybody so much better, and I think that's a huge difference."
Eva Longoria made the trip to cheer on Parker, and to the best of my knowledge, the couple managed to avoid verbally abusing any Palace security guards. They weren't as nice to the San Antonio police on Saturday.
Rasheed Wallace scored 14 with six rebounds and two blocks, playing the role of Tim Duncan's nemesis for 29 minutes before heading home to play the role of Daddy for the rest of the day:
Rasheed Wallace said he got up around 9, although his kids wanted him up much earlier.
"They had to wait," he said. "That was killing them."
After the game, he planned on going home to assess the gift-opening damage and help get all the toys up and running.
"You gotta do it," he said. "Put the toys together, put the batteries in there, make sure this works right, and transform this, and make sure this game works.
"You gotta be knowledgeable about electronics if you've got a lot of kids. You've gotta have patience with it because of all these little parts and knick-knacks. It's crazy."
Good times, good times. If you didn't get enough, be sure to tune in on January 12 as the Pistons face their demons by traveling to San Antonio.