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Pistons defeather Hawks (and more Delfino musings)

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The Pistons defeated the Hawks last night, 97-87. For a while, after a 20-5 Pistons run to start the game, it looked as if it would end in a blowout. Then for a while, after a 25-4 run by the Hawks, it looked like I was going to throw my television out of the second story window. Ultimately, thanks to an incredibly balanced stat sheet that saw each starter meet or exceed his season average in points, the Pistons cruised to victory. Here's a telling stat: Joe Johnson, who torched the Pistons for 29 points and the game winner in the Hawks' victory of the Pistons on February 7, had 3 points on 1 of 9 shooting proving that if the Pistons want to shut you down they will. For the Hawks, that win over the Pistons was probably the highlight of their season; for the Pistons, it was a Tuesday.

For those who care, that makes two wins in a row over teams that had defeated the Pistons in their previous go-round (including an 85-71 takedown of the Nets on Valentine's Day). The Boys in Blue will have the chance to exorcise another demon tomorrow night against the hated Indiana Pacers. (The Pacers took advantage of the Pistons playing the second of two back-to-back road games while handing Detroit an "L" on February 4.)

Warning: Digression
Apparently Flip Saunders didn't get the memo that we at Detroit Bad Boys have crowned Carlos Delfino as the next great Piston icon. Delfino--still in search of a befitting nickname--played only 8 minutes as compared to Maurice Evans' 16. Now if you are new to Detroit Bad Boys and are puzzled by our repeated touting of a player who averages around 4 points and 11 minutes per game, you aren't the first, and you probably won't be the last (especially if Flip keeps squelching Delfino's brilliance by nailing him to the bench). But for the time being though, appreciate the fact that he's buying his floor time the old-school way: busting his ass on defense, getting after loose balls, and earning the respect (and admiration) of the starters. His shot will come--he was known as a talented offensive player with Skipper Bologna, his former team in Italy--and when it does, the Pistons three-guard rotation will be locked for years to come.

Note: I'd be remiss if I didn't congratulate Daniel Horton and the Michigan Wolverines hoop squad for a great win over the Fighting Illini last night. With the win, the (other) Boys in Blue should have guaranteed themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament this season. And speaking of exorcising demons, the ghosts of the Brian Ellerbe era may have finally been vanquished.

Pistons 97, Hawks 87 box score [ESPN]
The Dirty 30 [SLAM! online]
Michigan 72, Illinois 64 recap [ESPN]