The Pistons, playing their first officially meaningless game of the season after clinching homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, dropped a game to the Raptors on Friday night. Four of the five starters watched at least half of the game from the bench -- Ben Wallace, who racked up five blocks in 28 minutes, was the lone exception. Even in limited time, though, Chauncey kept alive his MVP push by filling up the box score with 15 points and 10 assists in 22 minutes.
As for the bench, Antonio McDyess, Lindsey Hunter, Mo Evans and Tony Delk all played at least 21 minutes, while Jason Maxiell and Carlos Delfino chipped in at least 13. Not to be left out, Dale Davis even got on the floor for four minutes. Hunter was perhaps the most active, scoring 13 with nine assists in just 26 minutes. But this game wasn't about what the Pistons did or didn't do, as it was clear from the start that the team was simply going to go through the motions and try not to get anyone hurt.
Instead, this game was about the Raps trying to prove they can hang with the best in the league -- even if that means hanging with the best in the league's bench. Former Piston Mike James scored a career-high 39 points on just 9-16 shooting. How did he do that? Well, hitting 3-of-5 three-points helped, but it was his amazing 18-of-18 performance at the free-throw line which really put him over the top. Ten of those freebies came in the final 75 seconds as the Pistons repeatedly fouled him to stop the clock, but, like Chauncey so often does, he put the game on ice showing impeccable nerves at the stripe.
There's no point in analyzing this game too closely -- the Pistons played 12 guys, the Raptors played eight. That's about as much as you need to know to figure out who wanted to win this game the most. The Pistons have three more games to set a new franchise record in wins, which is likely going to happen Sunday evening at the Palace against the Knicks. It doesn't look like Larry Brown will make the trip, which is too bad given the poetic justice that could have been served, but it should be sweet nonetheless.
Raptors 108, Pistons 103 box score [ESPN]
Knicks Travel Without Brown [New York Times]