I'll admit it now, I was nervous about Thursday's game against the Spurs. After getting flat out embarrassed at the Palace on Christmas Day, I figured there was no way the Spurs would come out just as limp at home in another nationally-televised match.
Well, I was wrong.
Detroit jumped out to a 28-15 lead in the first quarter and never allowed the Spurs to come closer than six the rest of the way. Tim Duncan finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, but he set the tone early by starting 0-for-5, and no one else on San Antonio had more than five boards. Tony Parker tied for the team lead with 17 points, but almost half of those came in the first quarter and he didn't finish with a single assist.
The Pistons, on the other hand, were led by the red-hot Rasheed Wallace, who scored 27 points with 10 boards. Tayshaun Prince scored 13 with a career-high 12 boards. Although Prince had just two assists, he didn't have a single turnover and helped the Pistons out of a jam by taking over backup point guard duties, as rookie Alex Acker (active for the first time all season with Carlos Arroyo serving his one-game suspension) didn't get off the bench. Chauncey Billups finished with just nine points but handed out 14 assists with seven boards.
Ben Wallace did his usual thing with 12 boards, two steals and three blocks, but he was also limited to just two points -- one game after scoring just one point and two games after scoring just four. This game was a lot closer in the second half than the 15 point margin of victory suggests, and a little more ball movement resulting in some easy buckets under the basket for Big Ben wouldn't have hurt. Hopefully they'll get back to that in their next two games at home.
The Pistons have to be happy about sweeping their arch-rival, but they're still keeping their eye on the big picture:
"We got the moral victory with the two wins this year," forward Rasheed Wallace said. "But they got the overall by getting us in Game 7 last year. We're just trying to get back to there, and get back what's ours."
But even still, the Pistons took a big step in securing "what's theirs" by securing the tie-breaker should they happen finish with the same record as the Spurs. And, as it turns out, sweeping the World Champs gets you a lot of play on ESPN's Daily Dime.
Now here's to hoping San Antonio makes it out of the West instead of Dallas or Utah...
Pistons 85, Spurs 68 box score [ESPN]
DETROIT 83, SAN ANTONIO 68: Playoff intensity [Detroit Free Press]
Daily Dime [ESPN]