Amidst a whirlwind final few weeks of the season with a schedule filled with peaks and valleys, Tuesday night's game against the Hornets was undoubtedly a valley. But despite playing without Mr. Rasheed Wallace, and despite committing 18 turnovers, the Pistons pulled out their 60th win of the season, 101-93. Considering that this is only the second time the franchise has reached the 60-win plateau (and the first since the days of the Bad Boys), you might have expected the Boys in Blue to want this one a bit more than normal, but in actuality, a number of players didn't even know the Pistons' record as Flip spoke to the team before the game. Flip, in the Detroit News:
"To show you where our guys are, before the game, I said, 'Let's go get No. 60.' We had about seven of our guys who didn't know we had 59 wins."
Antonio McDyess, admittedly a member of this gang of seven, dominated the Hornets while playing starters' minutes in Sheed's absense. Dyess dropped 26 points and grabbed 14 boards in 37 minutes. And while Dale Davis made the start for the Pistons (Dyess, once again, did not want to interrupt the rotation), and gave them 24 minutes (including 5 boards, 2 blocks and one emphatic two-handed dunk), it was Dyess that took it upon himself to fill the void left by Sheed. Dyess took the diplomatic approach after the game, deflecting praise and making sure everyone who would listen knew that it was impossible to replace Sheed. Davis took a slightly different approach when asked about Sheed's absense, telling the Free Press:
"It's quieter in here without 'Sheed's mouth"
[Whoa, whoa, whoa... Word of advice, Dale. Even if said in jest, that's Mr. Rasheed Wallace, you are talking about there. You're tugging on Superman's cape, man. Might I suggest having Lindsey start your car over the next couple days? Just to be safe, ya know?]
Anyways, back to the game. The Pistons had a firm grip on this one throughout the last three quarters, though the on/off switch unfortunately seemed to be in full effect during the fourth. With the Pistons up by as many as 18 in the quarter, the Hornets were able to cut the lead down to five in the waning moments. But a clutch three by Tony Delk (15 points, 4 boards, 2 dimes, 2 steals) closed the door for good. Aside from typical well-rounded games from Tayshaun Prince (18, 4, 3, 1) and Chauncey Billups (22 points, 11 dimes -- and only one of the team's 18 turnovers), Delk and Dyess provided the spark to get to 60 wins.
All in all, it was a win, but it definitely was not the "Deeetroit Basketball" that we've grown to expect. But expect the Pistons' A-game to resurface with two monumental games on the horizon -- Thursday's trip to Miami coupled with what will assuredly be a tearful, emotionally taxing reunion with Darko on Friday in Orlando (/sarcasm).
Chris Paul v. Isiah Thomas
The comparisons between their games have been made since Chris Paul exploded out of the gate early this season. But color me surprised; Paul is actually proving worthy of the (albeit early) comparisons with the greatest little man in NBA history. In the process of racking up accolades, the inevitable Rookie of the Year is also doing his best to destroy some of the myths about rookies. Rookie wall? He dropped 24 points, dished 10 dimes, grabbed 4 boards, and added 5 steals in his 69th game of the season. Also, aren't point guards supposed to experience a period of adjustment once they reach the big time, sorta like NFL quarterbacks? Well Paul is already playing at an All-Star level. Rarely do I get so excited to see the development of opposing players, but Paul has a chance to be one of the greats.
The Pistons are bad hosts
The Palace -- despite it's timeless decor -- is approaching 20 years old, and the place is turning into a dump. Alright, that's a little harsh, but there were plumbing issues at the Palace once again, forcing the Hornets to change lockerrooms and -- according to today's Free Press -- preventing them from taking post-game showers. That's kinda bush-league, isn't it?
Pistons 101, Hornets 93 box score [ESPN]
Pistons reach 60 [Detroit News]
Detroit 101, New Orleans 93: Pistons hold off Hornets [Detroit Free Press]