If you haven't heard by now, Sunday's All-Star game had all the makings of a rout with the West jumping out to a 21-point lead. Not to get overly dramatic, but it was the team play and defense of the four Pistons playing on the floor together that really helped turn things around.
Don't just take my word for it, take USA Today's...
The four were on the floor together late in the third quarter and early in the fourth when the East completed its comeback from 21 points down. Ben Wallace blocked two shots on one possession to energize the East, and Billups had a three-point play with 11:24 left to tie the score at 94. He finished with 15 points and seven assists.
"We wanted nothing but a win, not showboating or any of that," Billups said. "That's just how we play. ... We don't have the personnel to play that other way. "
... and the Washington Post's...
The game took a turn at the start of the fourth quarter, when East Coach Flip Saunders of the Detroit Pistons changed the pace by putting in the group of players who knew each other better than any one else: the Pistons. Saunders sent out Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace -- the first group of four teammates in the all-star game in eight years.
... and ESPN's...
Ben Wallace stole the ball in the backcourt and headed upcourt with a head of steam, passing the ball to Richard Hamilton before he fed it to Chauncey Billups streaking in from the right side.
Billups scored to complete the 3-on-2 fast break, giving the Eastern Conference All-Stars a four-point cushion early in the fourth quarter that they never surrendered.
Yep, even in the All-Star game it was the Detroit Pistons who were the best team on the floor.
... heck, even The Cavalier over at YAYsports shared the love:
No, it wasn't fun just because LeBron became the youngest in history to win the MVP. Honestly, even we're inclined to say the MVP was probably the four Pistons who turned on the intensity in the third and made it a game, anyway.
The second-half comeback helped the East seal a 122-120 victory. LeBron James won MVP honors with 29 points, but Chauncey Billups also put on a show with 15 points, seven assists and four rebounds in just 16 minutes. Ben Wallace failed to score but added eight boards, three steals and two blocks in 24 minutes, while Rip Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace pitched in six and two points, respectively.
I haven't had this much fun watching an All-Star game in years. It was obvious from the introductions that the players were already having a good time, and after a few minutes of some really sloppy play to open the game, it actually became quite enjoyable, and not just because it featured four Pistons taking the floor at the same time.
Don't think that Chauncey, Rip, Ben and Rasheed forgot about Tayshaun Prince, though. As the Detroit Free press reports:
Each of the Pistons' All-Stars wrote No. 22 on their sneakers before the game got under way. It was a nod to teammate Tayshaun Prince, who didn't make the team. Rasheed Wallace harbored a small case of jealousy over Prince, who spent his All-Star break in the Bahamas.
"I am (jealous)," Wallace said. "Because I know he's somewhere about to watch the game tonight, probably got a couple of cocktails."
If Tay-Tay stopped by here before heading down, he could have gotten a few good drink recipes to take with him.
For Pistons, the team is the star [USA Today]
East Gets Serious In the 2nd Half [Washington Post]
LeBron and Pistons lead East to All-Star game win [ESPN.com]
LeBron James is the All-Star MVP [YAYsports!]
ALL-STAR GAME: EAST 122, WEST 120: Pistons spark East victory [Detroit Free Press]