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Pistons drop the ball in Atlanta, pick it up against Celtics

The Pistons split their games this weekend, dropping an extremely winnable game to the Hawks on Friday before scraping by a completely decimated Celtics team on Saturday. It's useless trying to analyze these games, because as far as I'm concerned the team has been playing the same game over and over again ever since Chauncey Billups went down. That said, there were at least a couple of worthwhile developments worth mentioning.

Goodbye Nazr, hello Dale: Dale Davis replaced Nazr Mohammed in the starting lineup this weekend, and so far the results are favorable: a double-double (12 points, 10 boards, three blocks) on Friday and a Ben Wallace special (zero points, nine boards, three blocks) on Saturday. Nazr played a combined 15 minutes and change in the two games, and if Chris Webber signs he'll likely be removed completely from the rotation.

McDyess is still cold: Antonio McDyess has scored two points in his last three games ... combined. Optimists will point out that those two points came in Saturday's game, along with six boards and three blocks. Even so, he's not doing much to improve his trade value, if he's even on the block in the first place.

Rip is carrying the team: Or more accurately, he's trying to -- the Pistons are 3-6 in their last night, so no one is really carrying the team right now. But Rip Hamilton has scored at least 20 points in 10 straight games, averaging 27.8 points per game. His 51-point outburst skews the average a bit, but even without it he's averaging better than 25 in the other nine.

Still no solution at point guard: Flip Murray is getting better distributing the ball, but he's also getting awfully comfortable jacking up shots -- he combined for 30 field goal attempts this weekend, as many as Rasheed Wallace and more than Tayshaun Prince.

Plus, rookie Will Blalock appears to have played himself out of the rotation, not playing a single minute on Saturday for the first time in 13 games. From

Point guard play continues to be a problem, which is why Saunders gave some minutes at the point to Carlos Delfino, the backup small forward. Delfino did a solid job of running the team, getting four points, an assist and a steal. Saunders did not play rookie Will Blalock (coaches decision) on Saturday, and said that Delfino and Tayshaun Prince would be used as backup point guards until Chauncey Billups (strained right calf) and Lindsey Hunter (sore Achilles tendon) return.

Chauncey suffered a setback: Saturday was the unofficial target for Chauncey's return, but after pushing himself while working out on Thursday he felt pain in his strained calf. It's not clear when he'll return, but it's not expected to be in Monday's matinée.

Hawks 99, Pistons 93 box score []
Pistons 81, Celtics 73 box score []