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Pistons punk Pacers, thanks to Sheed

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Pre-rant recap
Natalie at Need 4 Sheed has, as always, done an excellent job in capturing the video highlights of Sheed's big night against the Pacers. If you want a taste of how dominant the Pistons were during brief stretches of last night's 88-83 W over the Pacers, I suggest you check that out. As for me, I'm choosing instead to bitch and moan like only a fan of the best team in the NBA can--see below.

Rant (or as much as one can with the team being 44-9)
One of the things I appreciated about the first 40 games of this season was the way in which the Pistons closed out games. They didn't care if you were the Spurs, the Suns, the Bobcats, or the Sixers -- at the end of the game, they stepped on your neck and didn't let you up for air until the clock hit zeros. Now -- as the Pistons struggle to assemble four quarters of A-game -- they're suddenly looking vulnerable to the peons of the league. Now we've got fools like Jermaine O'Neal mouthing off about playoff matchups and a war of words with super-scrub Anthony Johnson. This from today's Indianapolis Star:

The Pistons, in particular coach Flip Saunders, didn't care for Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal's comments about matching up and wanting to play them in the playoffs. Then Johnson took exception to Detroit's explanation for losing the first meeting earlier this month.
"One thing about the Indiana Pacers is that we don't make excuses," Johnson said. "When we beat them, they were like it was their fourth game in five nights and all that kind of (expletive). We don't do that; they just beat our (expletive). That's it. There's no other way to put it."

I think I've become more than just a spoiled fan. Winning games is no longer enough--I want these guys (the Nets, Pacers, and Heat especially) to be walking away demoralized. That Anthony Johnson was doing anything after the game other than lying on the floor of the Pacers lockerroom in the fetal position bothers me. Is that wrong?

Post Rant
Whatever--it's a win, and the Boys in Blue look to be getting back on track having won 5 of 6 since their first losing streak of the season. But hey, enjoy the war of words with Anthony Johnson now, because when Jamal Tinsley returns maybe Johnson goes back to playing semi-pro ball in Israel, Italy, or Ivory Coast (or wherever he crawled out from).
[Note: my bitterness towards the Pacers is getting the best of me with that last comment. In all seriousness, I would like to point out that right now Johnson would be a HUGE upgrade over Lindsey Hunter as a backup point for the Pistons. TNT analyst Doug Collins mentioned last night that Lindsey's "timing was off." Well I certainly hope it was, because if that's what we have to look forward to down the stretch, then I'm buying my Anthony Goldwire jersey tomorrow.]

Sheed said it
The real story coming out of last night was not the Pistons victory over the Pacers. Did you know that Ben Wallace's nickname amongst the players is "Body"? If this is common knowledge, I apologize, but I think we need only one guess as to who may have given him the moniker:

"Body (Wallace) was blocking shots left and right, grabbing rebounds," Rasheed Wallace said. "The kid's a monster. I am just glad he's on my side."

Beating the dead horse
Did you notice that Miami Vice logged 19 minutes last night? He was on the floor during a couple of the team's best runs, and again made key hustle plays while taking care of the ball. I know that our praise of him on this site has reached comical proportions, but he isn't an arbitrary choice for the love. Both Matt and I feel strongly that he's going to play a major role in the continued success of the Pistons, so watch now to see the humble beginnings of greatness.

Pistons 88, Pacers 83 box score [ESPN]
Wallace's 1-man fusillade leaves Pacers in a daze [Indianapolis Star]
Rasheed is a sparkplug in the 4th quarter [Detroit News]