Pistons scoring by quarter: 27, 8, 30, 31. Reflect:
The PopcornMachine Game Flow paints the picture:
What the hell went wrong in the second quarter? It's like someone put Saran Wrap on the hoop -- the Pistons shot just 18% from the field. Even Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff was confused:
The Pistons were held to eight points in the second quarter -- their lowest-scoring quarter of the season -- and watched a nine-point lead turn into a 10-point deficit.
"I don't know if we can take any credit for that," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.
The worst part is, the Pistons shot a whopping 56% from the field the night before, and in the third quarter of that game made eight consecutive shots. On Wednesday, they couldn't buy a bucket to save their lives. It took the Bobcats less than three minutes to erase the nine-point deficit and take the lead, and it took the Pistons over four minutes to finally hit a basket.
A lot of people will call this a lack of effort, and maybe that's what it is. But to me, it just looked like the law of averages slapping them upside the head. I'm not going to go back and re-watch this just to analyze the quality of shots, but I don't recall many mind-numbing mistakes, just a whole lot of bricks.
In other news, Rasheed Wallace came off the bench for the second night in a row, but it's not why you might think: From the Detroit Free Press:
Earlier in the day, he said keeping Wallace on the bench wouldn't be a disciplinary move this time around. It would be more of a precautionary, injury-related move.
"'Sheed has not played his best basketball lately," Saunders said, "and part of the reason is because he's not totally healthy. This can be a way for us to know we're going to limit his minutes to start with because he's only going to be able to play 30 minutes a game.
"So right now, until we get him physically where he needs to be, it might be a situation where it will benefit him but also benefit us."
Wallace has struggled all season with ankle issues that stem from a sprained ankle in last May's playoffs. He missed two games -- Dec. 16 and 17th -- on the inactive list but has fought through the pain ever since.
[Update: Michael Rosenberg's column today suggests maybe things aren't all that hot between Rasheed and Flip.]
Sheed ended up playing 33 minutes with 13 points, six boards, three steals and a pair of blocks. Jason Maxiell, meanwhile, played 27 minutes and finished with nine points, seven boards and two blocks. And in perhaps his quietest performance of the year, Antonio McDyess was held scoreless in 11 minutes.
Rip Hamilton (23 points, six assists) once again led the team in scoring, and Tayshaun Prince (19) followed up Tuesday's excellent performance with a solid game. Trailing nine with three minutes left, the Pistons made a mini-run to cut Charlotte's lead down to four in the span of a minute and a half. But then Matt Carroll drew a Carlos Delfino foul and Rip Hamilton was charged two technicals for arguing -- Carroll sank four free throws and the book was pretty much closed.
Carroll averages less than 10 points a game on the year, but in three games against Detroit he's scored 16, 16 and 17. Did I mention he went to Notre Dame? Man, I hate this guy.
Kudos to Carlos Delfino, though, for driving hard to the basket all night long. Any questions about his post-knee-surgery hops should be laid to rest -- he had a poster-worthy tomahawk jam in the fourth quarter as well as several nifty layups. Yeah, nifty. He finished with nine points in 18 minutes.
As for the point guards ... let's just say they didn't play as well as they did Tuesday night. Flip Murray had five assists and two turnovers in 39 minutes, his defense was again suspect and his team-high 19 field-goal attempts were unwelcome. Will Blalock failed to record a single assist in 10 minutes yet still found time to take five shots. That said, I praised Blalock yesterday for being comfortable enough to shoot, so I guess it's not fair to flip-flop on him now.
All in all, it was an ugly game. If you weren't able to watch it, don't waste your time, or at least skip the second quarter.