First off, Happy Thanksgiving.
That said, at various points of last night's Pistons/Hawks matchup, you may have been wondering whether a "happy" holiday was in store for the Boys in Blue. But despite playing the second night of a back-to-back against an athletically gifted Hawks team, the Pistons pulled out a 103-98 victory, their fourth W in a row.
Key to the Pistons victory was their dominance of the offensive glass, led by Tayshaun Prince with 5 O boards. Their 18 offensive boards negated a poor shooting night (40.9%) and contributed to the Pistons taking 16 more field goal attempts than the Hawks. Mr. Big Shot led Detroit with 24 points, 10 dimes, and three steals with only one turnover, and all five starters were in double digits.
But it wasn't pretty. Even without Josh Childress and Marvin Williams, the Hawks were still able to take advantage of a lackluster Pistons' D in the first half. The lane was left open for numerous dunks, layups, and short-range jumpers -- many of which the Hawks just couldn't convert (or the first and third quarter Atlanta leads would have been far worse). The Pistons did, however, come up with 8 steals and 4 blocks and forced (or, at least, benefitted from) 18 Atlanta turnovers. Overall, Joe Johnson led the Hawks with an efficient 25 points on only 13 shots, but he did commit four turnovers.
While on the subject of the Piston D, Rasheed Wallace is a bit of an enigma, isn't he? He posted his fourth straight double-double last night with 14 points and 13 boards. Sheed's blocks and boards are up this year, and he seems to have taken very seriously his role in helping to replace Ben Wallace in the middle. But he picks his spots to shine and still has moments of flat-footedness against quick moves. This isn't new to Sheed's game, so perhaps I should just be content with his increased take in the middle. But he's such an athletic player and could conceivably dominate whichever aspect he chose to focus upon -- it'd be nice to see him all out on D.
Were the Pistons tired last night? Well, consider this series of events. At one point, Zaza Pachulia threw a shoe on the offensive end and and stayed behind to lace it back up as play switched to the Pistons' end of the floor. So, 5-on-4 advantage for the Pistons, right? Well, not exactly. Dale Davis, seeing that his man was staying back, never advanced past the Hawks' free throw line choosing instead to grab a breather. Now perhaps this was because Dale has no set role on the offensive end. Perhaps Dale feared Zaza would be able to cherry-pick on the next offensive possession. Perhaps this wasn't a big deal to anyone on the Piston bench and was only obsessed over by Matt and I. But I doubt it.
One last note on a topic we'll probably be tracking for the remainder of the season: the Pistons' youth movement (or lack thereof). The news is both good and bad. The good: Carlos Delfino played a solid 15 minutes backing up the 2 and 3. With 6 points, 5 boards (3 offensive), and a steal, he answered Flip Saunders' call for energy and production. If Delfino gets 15 minutes a night from here on until the All-Star break, it is going to be awfully hard not to give him 20 minutes a night afterwards.Ed. - just spotted this encouraging Flip Saunders quote in the Freep: "If Carlos can play that hard and like that all the time, he's going to play a lot," Saunders said. "That's how he's got to play." He's got the lateral quickness to be a difference-maker on D, and he finds open shots on O (whether or not he's hitting them currently). The bad: Jason Maxiell got another 0'fer, with Dale Davis and Antonio McDyess sucking up all the big man minutes. (Matt was not amused.)
Don't mistake the tone of this recap for disappointment. The Pistons fought through all available excuses (upcoming holiday, back-to-back, half-full Palace crowd, etc.) and took care of business against a mediocre foe -- something they'll have ample opportunity to do again over the next six games. But looking ahead at a four game road-trip against Dallas, Orlando, Indy and Jersey on December 7-16, let's hope the Pistons can work out some of these little kinks now, because they'll need their best very soon.
Now go enjoy the holidays, and try not to think about the Lions.
Update: If you missed the game, DBB reader (and PistonsForum.com mod) Microwave compiled a highlight reel:
Pistons 103, Hawks 98 box score [ESPN]
Pistons vs. Hawks [YouTube]