Being that this is the Piston equivalent of "rivalry week," Matt and I have decided to be a little more extensive in our game recaps. When it works -- as it did for the Piston win over the Heat on Wednesday night -- the result can be riveting (for us, anyway). But how does it hold up when paired with a passionless, grind-it-out game such as Friday night's W over the Pacers? We'll let you decide.
It’s the pregame warm-ups, and Sheed is laughing. This is a good sign.
- 1ST QUARTER
11:45 -- Anthony Johnson steals and blows the layup. Rip then throws it away on the way back down the floor. Missed shots and turnovers to start the game—I’m nostalgic for Carlisle-ball already. (Note: Jim Carrey will be playing the role of Rick Carlisle this evening.)
11:12 -- For the first bucket of the game—Peja hits a layup, the first points in the paint of his entire career. 2-0 Pacers.
9:04 -- Rip is having his way with Stephen Jackson so far (Note: Stephen Jackson will be played tonight by the Devil. I’m not kidding.)
8:47 -- We learn from the Pacers’ announcers (sadly, no Blaha and Lambs for those watching in DC) that Indiana is 13-11 since acquiring Peja and losing Jermaine O’Neal, which means before this game they were 21-21 without Peja and with JO. Interesting...
Ben flails as Harrison challenges him for a rebound. Foul on Harrison, and the Pacer announcers are perturbed. (You know it’s a flop when it appears that David Harrison has hit anyone but a fan in the stands.)
How long has Larry Bird been running the Pacers now? Just asking… Hey, did anyone read the question on Bill Simmons’ ESPN chat recently?
John (Indianapolis, IN): Bill, why don't you ever criticize Larry Bird as Pacers GM? He has single-handedly destroyed the pacers. He traded Al Harrington for Stephen Jackson (even though Jackson was already a free agent!), traded Brad Miller for Scott Pollard (what the heck?) and Artest for an old Peja (who might even leave as a free agent). He's just lucky that he inherited Jermaine and the East is weak, otherwise this team would be even worse than the Knicks! Stop being so biased in favor of him just because he's your childhood hero. Get over yourself.
Now that is an excellent question, John; one that obviously went unanswered by Simmons. But back to the game…
5:06 -- This game is flying by, and David Harrison now has 8 points… in the first 7 minutes of the game. At this rate, I’m looking forward to this game being over.
4:44 -- Sheed hits the three and is smacked about the face by Jeff Foster. Timeout called by the Pacers as Stephen Jackson is banged up, as well. Sheed accosts the refs during the dead ball, but they deserve it.
(Note: Jeff Foster will be played tonight by Freddie Mercury.)
4:25 -- Finally, someone decides to stop David Harrison’s career scoring day; he’s swatted by Ben.
4:07 -- After a phantom foul call on Ben, who outworked the entire Pacer team for a putback attempt, Jermaine O’Neal checks in for his first action against the Pistons this season.
1:10 -- Again with the David Harrison thing. The Pacers have outscored the Pistons in the paint 12-0, but this is nothing new, the announcers point out. The Pistons are the lowest scoring team in the paint in the entire league; Pacers 20-15.
At the end of one, 20-15 Pacers. David Harrison is currently on pace to score 40 points. (His season high is 16.)
During the break, I get to watch a 3 minute commercial with Puff Daddy talking about his acne problems where he refers to his face as his "sexy." (Thank you very much, NBATV.)
- 2ND QUARTER
11:20 -- And we’re back at it. And just once I’d like to see Antonio McDyess not smile after a screw up... just once. Lost ball, back to the Pacers.
10:32 -- Not only is Carlos "Miami F'n Vice" Delfino in the game, but Lindsey Hunter just hit a shot. I will now play the lottery and avoid flying in airplanes for the remainder of the week, since the general theme seems to be "unlikeliness".
9:35 -- David Harrison dunks with very little resistance; he now has 12 points on 6-8 shooting.
8:43 -- Lindsey hits a three, steals the inbounds pass, and then misses badly on another long range attempt. Every time that Lindsey shoots the ball, I swear I hear the entire team say "Oh Sh*t" in slow motion along with me, but then he goes and steals an inbounds pass or doggedly defends his man. Oh, Lindsey.
7:45 -- Not only did Jermaine O’Neal just attempt to crack Dale Davis’ ribs, but he traveled while doing it...and then he bitched to the refs about it. Looks like JO’s game is back in form already.
7:21 -- Delfino hits for three, and the Pistons are now up 27-26 after an 8-0 run. Guaranteed this doesn’t happen with Mo Evans in the game, guaranteed. (Alright, I have no way of knowing whether this run would have happened with Mo in the game or not, but when you've jocked one particular player as much as we have Delfino, you tend to root for him a bit harder when he's actually in the game.)
6:51 -- It is pointed out that the Pistons have yet to attempt a foul shot.
6:40 -- ... and Dale Davis just hit a baseline jumper, increasing his scoring for the season by 20%.
6:10 -- Somewhere Lindsey Hunter is dominating a women’s over-40 rec league, because I sure as hell don’t know who is wearing #10 for the Pistons tonight. Whoever it is -- he just tripled again. Pistons 32-27
5:34 -- Chauncey hits his own three to cap a 16-1 Pistons run.
3:16 -- In case you missed it, Delfino is still in the game for Detroit, and he hits the silky jumper off the curl. I’m telling you folks, tip of the iceberg stuff here. Vice has huge offensive upside.
Commercial: David Harrison and Scot Pollard dancing . (Oh how I miss the Tayshaun Wallside Windows commericals.)
2:00 -- Lockdown D by Delfino on Peja. Vice gets the shooter’s bounce on the other end. Nice showing tonight. Note: Both Vice and Evans are in the game right now.
0:34 -- Stephen Jackson hits a three and stares at the Pistons in triumph all the way back down the floor. Ah, yes. Life is good for Stephen Jackson, until...
0:07 -- Jackson grabs the inbounds pass and puts up a hurried half court shot over the backboard... with 7 seconds left. (Read that again.) Okay, Stephen, work with me here. "0-1" means "quick-shoot-the-ball!". But "1-0" means you’ve got a couple more steps in you. Dumb*ss.
End of the first half in just over an hour; the Pistons are up 42-36.
- 3RD QUARTER
11:26 -- After scoring 14 points in the first half, David Harrison apparently expects superstar calls. Oh, and by the way, he still can't rebound. (Note: Harrison didn't score at all the rest of the game)
9:18 -- Anthony Johnson scores to tie the game at 42. Detroit is looking decidedly uninspired to start the second half -- is it time to bring the bench in? Flip doesn't think so.
8:11 -- Sheed finally hits, breaking a silent streak. Been looking for you the last quarter and a half, big guy.
7:40 -- Johnson hits a jumper; will wonders never cease? Pistons up two, 48-44.
6:25 -- Stephen Jackson passes directly to Tayshaun. Dumb. Not as dumb as his premature buzzer beater, but dumb.
6:00 -- Harrison's cool pills have officially worn off -- after missing a layup and then fouling on the other end, he pleads to the ref. Dave, get over yourself. You average six points a game and I don't think the refs even know your first name.
As far as I can tell, the Pacers floor looks purple, not that there's anything wrong with that. (I'm talking to you, Carlos Boozer.)
On a sidenote, this game has none of the playoff atmosphere from Wednesday. None. The Pistons look a bit underwhelmed.
4:58 -- Chauncey with the perfect pass to Ben under the basket... whoops, dropped out of bounds. Haven't we learned our lesson yet? A half-court three has a better chance of resulting in points.
4:46 -- Foster travels. Another Pacers turnover = Sheed three-pointer.
4:12 -- Wow, the Pacers are falling apart -- Jackson's inbounds pass goes off O'Neals foot out of bounds. Matt chimes in on IM: "This game is going quick." Yeah, thankfully. Pistons' lead back up to seven, 53-46.
3:15 -- Freddie Mercury blows the layup after Ben challenged the shot; Tay runs out on the break and is fouled. He nails both freebies and boom, Pistons 55-48.
3:01 -- Offensive foul on Tinsley. "The walls are caving in on the home team," say the Pacers announcers. Ya think? The Pacers were within two points three minutes ago. A 7-2 run later, it's a nine-point game.
2:45 -- Ben Wallace drives to the hole on O'Neal, who in turn fouls Ben into the basket support for his efforts. Two points in 15 minutes for JO so far; methinks he might be getting frustrated.
Ben proceeds to punish the rim twice, but Tayshaun grabs the offensive board. If basketball had a time of possession clock like football, Detroit would have a decided advantage this quarter.
2:05 -- Dyess hits from outside after Lindsey lines a jumper straight into the rim. Looks like Lindsey's cool pills have worn off, as well. But two offensive boards on that possession -- nice second and third effort, Blue.
1:29 -- Lindsey Hunter, aka Black Hole, holds the ball almost an entire possession before taking a badly missed three. Hurry back, double zero, hurry back.
0:57 -- Jermaine O'Neal hacks Ben for his fourth foul in 16 minutes. It's Darko-esque, I tell you! Ben hates the rim -- he hates it! Twice.
0:45 -- Pistons called for a personal foul, their second this quarter, which prompts a standing ovation from the Indy crowd. (Somehow they didn't mind the foul disparity in the first half, though. Imagine that.)
0:22 -- Tay hits a three in Harrison's eye and trash talks him back down the floor; Pistons up 13, 60-47.
0:03 -- After a Tinsley layup, Lindsey misses badly on the final shot of the quarter. Lindsey: know your role, stop shooting.
End of third quarter; Pistons 60-49
- 4TH QUARTER
11:36 -- Lindsey, while sharing floorspace with Chauncey and Tay, pounds the rock for the last 10 seconds of the opening possession, and throws up a brick. Lindsey, a quick word please? Stop shooting... now.
10:19 -- While out of control, Lindsey proceeds to commit the tunnel-visioned offensive foul. Why is he shooting so much? Does Lindsey have Chauncey's car in his auto shop right now -- is that why Chauncey’s afraid to shout him down? He's worried he won't get his ride back, or that Lindsey will mess with his rims? Seriously...
9:57 -- Stephen Jackson drives to the hole and is blocked by the bottom of the backboard. He yells at the ref on the way down, but I’m sure it wasn’t anything the ref could understand.
9:10 -- Dyess has a smoooooth jumper when it’s on. By the way, Lindsey has used up all his good will from the first half. He is now being freezed out by Chauncey and Dyess.
7:43 -- Stephen Jackson hits two free throws and stares at the Pistons on his way back down the court—Expect a half court jumper over the backboard at any moment now.
7:26 -- Chauncey for threeeeee, 67-57.
6:26 -- Peja for three (he doesn't deserve the extra "E's" though). Pistons, 67-61.
Pacer fans are up and cheering loudly—must be showing those digital racing Skoal tins on the scoreboard again.
Tony Dungy was invited by his college roommate Flip Saunders to the Pistons shoot-around and apparently gave the Pistons a little advice on how to handle the pressure of success during the regular season. Obviously Flip's not a football fan.
5:23 -- Dyess gets an "And-1" against Danny Granger. Granger counters with a three. 72-66 Pistons
4:49 -- Sheed promptly educates Granger how to play in the post. 74-66 now
4:00 -- Jermaine O’Neal just drilled his second straight shot against Sheed. Pistons lead back down to 6.
"We will rock you" being played over the loudspeaker. Is Jeff Foster, aka Freddie Mercury, singing this live?
2:31 -- Chauncey is hacked so badly on a three that the ball falls three feet short of the rim. Apparently, there was no foul. Imagine that.
1:53 -- Sheed’s three goes in, then out, but Ben snatches the board away from Granger and Tinsley. No matter, Ben again misses both free throws. He’s 0-6 from the line tonight, folks.
1:05 -- A frothing Stephen Jackson saves the ball into Chauncey hands. Chauncey promptly dribbles the ball of his knee and sends it out of bounds. Chauncey’s line thus far: 3-9, 8 points, but 9 assists.
Pistons are 0-6 from the field, 0-2 from the free throw line, with a turnover in their last 7 possessions.
0:28 -- Chauncey loses the ball and has to foul Tinsley to save the breakaway. With the free throws, the Pacers cut it to 74-72. Not Chauncey’s best game.
0:05 -- Chauncey’s three with the shot-clock expiring is blocked by O’Neal, but Ben, again with the offensive board will go to the line after being hacked. Miss (again), MAKE -- Ben makes a free throw! One of Eight tonight! 75-72 Pistons, last second shot from the Pacers coming up after this commercial.
0:00 -- Granger’s three with time expiring is swatted by Ben. An amazing block by an embattled player. Was the play worth the 7 points he surrendered at the line (going 1-8 on free throws)? Of course not -- but it won the game, nonetheless. And that is all that matters.
- Final 75-72 Pistons.
Wow -- there's really not much left to say about this game. The Pistons are now on a four-game winning streak and 2-0 amidst their toughest stretch of the season, with Jersey and Dallas on tap Sunday and Tuesday, respectively. While the offense seems to have abandoned the Boys in Blue over the past two (they've shot less than 40% from the field in each win), the defense is returning to its championship form just in time. While Jersey probably won't offer much more offensive resistance than the Pistons saw against Miami, Dallas will challenge the Pistons to make their shots. Matt made the comment earlier this evening: What a difference two wins make. After sluggish performances against some of the leagues lesser-knowns, the Pistons have shut down two playoff teams with seven more to go in the next two weeks.
Pistons 75, Pacers 72 box score [ESPN]
Bill Simmons chat transcript, 3/22 [ESPN]