The resilient Pistons bounced back from a tough loss in Jersey on Tuesday to blow out the Timberwolves at the Palace on Wednesday. It wasn't the prettiest game in the world -- Minnesota was actually leading by one after the first quarter -- but Detroit clamped down with their trademark defense to hold the T-Wolves to just 15 points in each of the next two quarters.
It's not often that a guy who failed to score a single point can be singled out as a game-changer, but Ben Wallace was phenomenal with 17 rebounds (including eight offensive boards), four steals and three blocks.
"He was everywhere," Chauncey Billups said. "He had so much energy tonight.
Billups, who was named the Eastern Conference's Player of the Month for January, played just 29 minutes. He suffered through an off shooting night and scored only nine points, but he still dished out seven assists, helping Rip Hamilton (21 points) and Tayshaun Prince (20 points) turn in solid efforts.
After going just 1-11 from beyond the arc on Tuesday, Rasheed Wallace shot 3-5 from the field against the T-Wolves, including 1-2 from three-point land. Despite my rants on Tuesday, I hope he regains his gun-slinger attitude soon and resumes shooting at will, as long as he remembers to get at least a few more shots off down low.
And of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out how well Carlos Delfino played -- nine points in 13 minutes on 3-4 shooting, including 2-2 from the line. He snagged a rebound and a steal, and earned a standing ovation from his teammates on the bench with an impressive dunk over two hapless Timberwolves.
Watching the game, I remember quite a few Kevin Garnett moments, but by the time the dust settled he scored just 14 points, adding 12 boards and five assists. The T-Wolves as a whole just lacked much of a spark, the unfortunate result of having a third of their roster turned over since the last time the Pistons faced them a little over a week ago.
The Pistons, meanwhile, definitely came out a little more focused than the night before. It may not have been just the fact they were coming off a rare loss, though, as Hamilton and Flip Saunders suggested a star-studded crowd may have helped pumped them up.
"It was a great feel tonight -- it was almost like the NBA Finals," Hamilton said. "Everybody that's anybody was here tonight."
Saunders felt that the Pistons were inspired by the presence of the Steelers, as well as several members of the Seattle Seahawks and other football notables like Donovan McNabb, Torry Holt, Reggie Bush and Dre' Bly.
"When you have other athletes in the arena, you want to go out there and perform," he said. "I'm sure that got them a little juiced up."