For a few moments on Wednesday night, Pistons fans were left wondering if the season's first losing streak would stretch to three games. Elton Brand scored nearly as many points in the first quarter (17) as the Pistons (18), giving the Clippers a seven-point cushion entering the second quarter. But Detroit outscored L.A. 30-15 in the second, and never trailed again for the rest of the game.
That's not to say the game was never close -- the Clippers charged forward in the fourth quarter to come within one, but Tayshaun Prince exploded for 11 of his 22 points in a span of five minutes to officially end the rally. I love how economical Tay-Tay has been lately -- he scored 29 points on 13 FG attempts Tuesday and 22 points on 12 FG attempts Wednesday (shooting 2-4 from three-point land and 6-6 from the charity stripe). In fact, for the month of February he's shooting 59% from the field.
That said, I do wish he'd pick up a few more rebounds -- he had just two against the Clippers and is averaging just 2.6 this month. As a team, the Pistons lost the battle of the boards 41-34, giving up 11 offensive rebounds while snagging just five of their own. Losing that battle is a trend in their losses, as well as some of their close wins. Sooner or later, something has to give.
Mike Dunleavy once again showed his lack of cojones with a little Hack-a-Ben action toward the end of the game, putting Ben Wallace on the line to miss four of six free throws. The ugly tactic was soon halted when Wallace took himself out of the game, which, in hindsight, is probably a blessing since any rest he can get in this part of the schedule is for the better. He finished with eight points, 13 boards, and two blocks in 32 minutes.
Chauncey Billups still looks a bit off -- he shot 5-12 from the field (41.6%), which isn't anything to write home about but represents a huge improvement from the 26.7% he shot in his previous four games. And since tallying 14 assists last Friday, he's tallied exactly 14 over his last three games (including four on Wednesday). This obviously isn't reason for huge concern, but it makes you wonder just how much he's still feeling that thigh injury suffered in late January.