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Pistons take on the Big Ticket and the T’Wolves

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Kevin Garnett and Antonio McDyess(I apologize for the general slowness of the site today -- bear with us...)

Obviously the news of the day is Chris Webber's decision to sign with the Pistons -- we've been covering that from the start and we'll certainly have more reaction to it later today. First things first, though, and that's the Monday matinee against the Timberwolves. If you're stuck at work and (gasp!) have certain sports sites blocked, I'll do my best to keep you updated here.

    Update:

It's over -- the Pistons lost 94-90 in OT. There's a (very, very) extensive account on how they did after the jump, but here are some random final thoughts:

Minnesota wins and improves to 20-16, good for the seventh seed in the West. Detroit loses and falls to 21-15, good the second seed in the East. Chris Webber (and Chauncey Billups, when he returns) should make the Pistons a very competitive team, but they are by no means an elite team. If they were in the West, they'd be just another team hustling to make the cut, not playing for the conference's best record.

Rasheed finished 1-11 with three points, 10 boards and a couple of steals in 44 minutes. Whatever happened to holding him to 30 minutes? You could argue that the four-point difference today could have been made up by 10 minutes from Jason Maxiell, who attacks the rim almost every time he gets the ball in the paint. Sadly, Max got the dreaded DNP-CD -- Flip Saunders will have fun explaining that one later.

Antonio McDyess broke out in a big way, though, getting 16 points on 8-10 shooting with seven boards in 29 minutes.

Flip Murray had 12 points but they came on 13 shots. To his credit, though, he also had nine dimes. Tayshaun Prince also chipped in seven assists along with 12 points, and Carlos Delfino added three assists and 10 points. Lindsey Hunter was only credited with one steal but he was a disruptive force on defense -- it's nice to see him back.

There's no time for the Pistons to feel sorry about themselves -- at 2 p.m. tomorrow, Chris Webber will become an official member of the team, and on Wednesday against the Jazz he should make his Pistons debut. With any luck, Chauncey will be back as well. Utah is one of the top teams in the West, and they feature one of the most balanced frontcourts in the entire league -- they'll put Detroit's new look frontline to the test early. Should be a good one.

Read on for the live-blog:

Pre-game

Dale Davis remains in the starting lineup over Nazr. He's done well there (9.5 boards in 24.5 minutes the last two games) -- too bad we didn't see it earlier. On Wednesday, he'll likely head to the bench for the rest of the year. Over/under on when he'll be traded? I say 15 games, and I wonder if that's being generous.

It's MLK Kids Day at the Palace -- hence, Mason stepped aside for the introductions for the kid. He was just as good as last year.

Kevin Garnett made a point to give Flip Saunders a pre-game hug. As much as guys like Rasheed Wallace struggle to get along with Flip, KG still swears by him.

1st Quarter

8-0 start by the Wolves -- two early misses by Rasheed.

8-2 -- three misses now by Rasheed. I don't think any of them came from within 15 feet.

12-6 Wolves -- Minny is 5-6 from the field -- the Pistons are 2-10.

14-6 Wolves, Flip takes a timeout, 7:24 left. You know the drill, the game hasn't started yet until the Pistons are down by eight. Cripes, I hate these slow starts.

Pistons come out of the timeout with a Rip jumper. Remember when the Pistons were automatic coming out of timeouts in the Larry Brown days?

Nazr replaces Dale with 5:47 left -- that's usually when he's ready to take a seat. (18-10 Wolves, Sheed just missed another jumper)

20-10, OK Pistons, you have your double-digit deficit, now get to work. Sweet, Tay hits a jumper, and then another one, and now they just forced a 24-second violation on Minny. It's like clockwork -- still 20-14 Wolves.

Rip hits a jumper -- that's six straight Pistons points, Detroit down four 20-16, timeout by Minny with 2:57 left.

You know the whole "Going to work" theme? I have hunch the Pistons work in a union shop --they're always late and there's really nothing you can do about it. (I think I just lost my Detroit card. I kid, I kid)

Chris Webber watches from the standsChris Webber is at the game -- he was just introduced to the Pistons crowd. For those worried how the Palace crowd will accept him, Greg Kelser says he just got a standing ovation.

Nazr hits a jumper, 20-18 Wolves. Garnett misses, Nazr rebounds and McDyess hits on the other end. Tie game.

That didn't last long -- Minny rookie Randy Foye hits the bucket and one. 23-20 Wolves.

Rip misses a runner in the lane with time running out of the quarter. Pistons down five after one 27-22.

2nd Quarter

The Spare Tires are sporting "Vote for Pedro" shirts. Here's to hoping the stay fully clothed with all of the kids in the building. (You can tell there's a lot of kids at a sporting event because of the high-pitched constant hum in the background.)

Lindsey Hunter just entered the game -- didn't realize he was this close to returning from his sore Achilles. Delfino entered the game, as well -- I wonder if he'll get a chance to play point guard or if that's swcrapped with Lindsey back.

10:39 -- Classic Lindsey play -- picks Ricky Davis' pocket from behind then bounces the ball off Davis' legs as he's falling out of bounds. Pistons ball, though they fail to take advantage, still 29-22 Wolves.

31-22 Wolves -- they're on an 11-2 run, and the Pistons just committed their seventh turnover. Yeah, there's eight and a half minutes left in the half. It's kind of sloppy.

Garnett posts up McDyess on the block and hits a turnaround jumper with his long arms extended. Didn't we used to have a guy who liked to do that? (cough, Rasheed, cough) I wonder whatever happened to him... 33-22, Flip calls for TO.

Garnett takes a seat to rest. If the Pistons are going to get on a run, this is their opportunity. Flip Murray at the line, hits both. 33-24 Wolves with eight minutes left.

Delfino double-clutches from the corner and still drains a three. You rarely see a guy make such an un-fluid (is that a word?) shot, but Minnesota isn't respecting his range at all. 33-27 Minny.

Wolves miss another shot and Rip drives, getting the bucket and one. He already has 11 points, soon to be 12. Doh! He misses the FT.

Carlos to Flip fast break -- he hits the bunny. That's a 9-0 run by Detroit, and they're down only two (33-31). Who called it? That's what I'm talking about.

McDyess steals the ball (going to the floor to save it from going out of bounds) then ends up getting the jumper on the other end: tie game. Oh, nice -- he just got another defensive board. KG fumes from the sidelines.

Garnett gets back in the game and immediately fires an airball. I'm guessing he was trying too much.

McDyess hits from the wing and gets a bucket that bounces five feet off the heel boefre going in. I love those shots. Pistons up 35-33.

Delfino gets fouled on the finger roll -- hits the first and ... the second. 15-0 run for Detroit, up four with 3:45 to go.

Pistons doing a hell of a job hounding the ball on defense -- even when they're not creating turnovers they're poking it out of bounds and forcing the Wolves to operate with a short shot clock. Believe it or not, they actually look like they're having fun. Plus, Dale Davis just entered the game, so expect even more defense.

Or more dunks. A slick Delfino to Davis dish in the paint. Pistons up 39-34.

Davis grabs the board on the other end, forces the jump ball. I wouldn't be opposed to holding onto him the rest of the season. It's hard to think of a 37-year-old guy as a spark plug, but that's exactly what he is.

Flip Murray tries to put on a little razzle-dazzle dribbling at the top of the three-point line, promptly has his pocket picked by Mike James.

Delfino gets his pocket picked in the paint by KG -- the Pistons are getting sloppy, but you had to figure the easy getting would end soon after KG entered the game.

Delfino hits a jumper, Minny responds with a layup, and then a Mike James rainbow. 42-41 Minny with 30 seconds left in the half.

Tay misses coming out of the timeout but Sheed tips the rebound to Rip, who hits a runner in the lane with 4.4 seconds left. Minnesota can't get a bucket on the other end, letting Detroit enter the half with a one-point lead.

Halftime

(Man the site is slow today. Believe me, it's bugging me more than you -- updating this ain't easy when you're dealing with a constant lag. Thanks for putting up with it. I removed some sidebar stuff for the time being -- maybe that'll speed things up.)

Sheed is 0-7 with four boards and an assist, while Jason Maxiell has yet to get into the game. I know there's more to coaching an NBA team than simply looking at a box score, but come on Flip, give the kid some burn.

3rd Quarter

Flip Murray misses a three, but I'm fine with it -- two other guys touched the ball first and he took the shot within the flow of the offense. Two second later after a Minny miss Flip just gets his layup rejected by KG. That, I'm not so happy about.

Sheed misses another layup (brrrr... it's getting cold in here) -- still 43-42 Pistons. Make that 44-43 Wolves -- KG hits in the lane.

Rip to Tay alley-oop fails -- Rip catches the lob in mid-air and is forced to come down with it. But he still hits the bunny after landing. Same result, just not as pretty -- 47-46 Detroit.

Rip drives again for another finger roll -- he has 19. He's doing it every which way this afternoon. He's locked up his All-Star spot, right? One more shot and he'll have at least 20 in 11 straight.

KG hits a pair from the line -- 51-49 Minny with about six and a half left in the quarter.

Rip gets it -- another layup, this time right on KG. It's amazing how much he's improved getting to the hole this year -- remember how everyone was lamenting in the playoffs last year that the Pistons needed a slasher? (That's probably the biggest reason Flip Murray was signed -- Flip doesn't always finish, but he certainly can take his man off the dribble to the hole.)

It's 53 all, by the way. Just coming back from commercial, just under five left to play.

KG blocks a Flip Murray drive. No shame in that -- he's tallied at least three or four of those so far.

Another KG block. Goes out of bounds, Flip Murray hits the jumper on the in-bounds.

Minny is on a mini-run -- 60-55 Wolves with just under three to play.

Rip to Tay alley-oop -- this one isn't flubbed. Tay now has 10, scoring for (I think) the first time since the first quarter. 60-59 Minny.

Sheed misses again -- he's 0-9. Pistons rebound and Rip (of course) hits the jumper. Pistons up 61-60, but not for long -- Minny responds with a jumper.

Minny turnover creates a Rip fastbreak -- he's got 12 in the third and 25 in the game.

T'Wolves get the ball out of bounds on a Detroit reach-in with three seconds left in the quarter, Lindsey Hunter pokes away the in-bounds pass -- buzzer. Pistons enter the fourth up 63-62.

What's Rip going to finish with? 30? 35? The Pistons would be lost without him.

4th Quarter

KG heaves up an air ball to turn the ball over on a 24-second violation. Remember what I said about the Pistons playing good defense? It comes in spurts, but it's still nice to see. McDyess hits on the other end -- he's already got eight points. I'll have to check, but he may already have doubled his output for all of January.

Delfino hits a three (he's got 10), Pistons up 68-64.

Ricky Davis hits a pair from the line -- 69-68 Wolves.

Nazr commits the loose ball foul after a Pistons miss -- that's two straight fouls for him on two straight possessions. He hits the pine for Rasheed, who's got his eye on going 0-for-10.

71-68 Minny with 8:04 left -- TO and commercial break. My hands hurt.

Delfino to Dyess dish in the paint and a jumper -- Dyess breaks double-digit scoring for the first time since (what feels like) 2003. Dyess is all over the place -- he gets a steal on the next possession (and throws the ball behind Tay and out of bounds on the fast break) and then gets a block on the next play (he's called for the foul but the foul shots are split -- it's a good play.)

With six minutes left in the quarter, Rip gets into the game for the first time since the third. It's about time -- the Pistons are down 74-70.

FYI, five minutes left in the game and Jason Maxiell has yet to play. I have no idea what's going on. My only hope is that the team is trying to showcase Nazr Mohammed.

Tay hits a hook -- 74-72 Minny.

Rasheed hits a three! He's 1-for-10 -- Sheedtastic! Pistons down one, 76-77 with three and change left. (In his defense, Sheed has played well even if his shot hasn't been falling -- he has eight boards and a pair of steals, not to mention some other defensive non-box-score-y plays.)

Ricky Davis splits the free throws on a Rip foul. Rip has five fouls and hasn't scored in the quarter. 77-75 Wolves with 3:07 left.

Rip misses coming out of the time out, Dyess bats the ball out of bounds. This is going to be close. Still 77-75.

Dyess wins a jumpball with Randy Foye, but Rip misses from downtown.

With the shot clock winding down, Flip Murray knocks the ball out of bound, forcing Minnesota to take the ball out of bounds with just a second left to shoot. Ricky Davis airballs, Detroit ball, down two with less than two to play.

Tie game, Dyess hits a jumper. 12 for him on 6-7 shooting.

Foye answers, Minny up two. Flip Murray answers the answer with a layup, tie game: 79 all with 1:02 left.

Mark Bount misses, Dyess rebounds ... and Sheed airballs. Ouch. Timeout Timberwolves -- 20.6 seconds left in the game, they'll be playing for the last possession and the win.

Come back from commercial to see Arnie Kander working on McDyess' lower back. I don't think it's serious, because he's staying the game.

Lindsey replaces Flip for defense, and what does he do? Dives after a misfired in-bounds pass and forces the jumpball in the Pistons backcourt! This guy just missed a month? You wouldn't know it -- he's all hustle today. 16.1 seconds left, Pistons take a TO before the jumpball.

Minny gets it, KG brings it up and gives it to Foye, but McDyess blocks it at the rim. Pistons recover with 2.6 seconds left and call timeout. Now they're playing for the win. On a sidenote: this whole live-blog thing would have been easier with a blowout, but I'm not complaining.

The refs just put 3.3 on the clock -- doesn't sound like much but it certainly helps.

Rip hits the running jumper and one! Except the shot doesn't count! They say Minnesota fouled before the shot -- the replay suggests not. Rip heaves up a three on the in-bounds and misses. Overtime.

How does Gilbert Arenas get the continuation call from 80 feet away but Rip doesn't get that one? The ref knew before the play that Minnesota had a foul to give, and I'm guessing that factored into the blown call.

Overtime

McDyess hits the first shot of OT -- Pistons up 81-79. Unfortunately, Ricky Davis triples on the other end.

Rip gets to the line and splits them. He's attempted just four FTs the entire game despite consistently getting into the paint.

Randy Foye triples, Minnesota is up 87-82 with 3:16 left. There's plenty of time left, but not if Minnesota keeps hitting all of their threes.

Rip drains the jumper, down three.

On the other end, though, the Pistons give up an offensive board -- after a foul, Minny gets another bucket. McDyess comes back with a bucket (he's 8-9 from the field) and then a block -- Rip is leading the team in scoring, but McDyess is just as much the Player of the Game.

A pair of free throws gives Rip 30. Minnesota TO with 1:14 left -- 89-88 Minny lead.

Flip Murray chases down a clutch rebound -- less than a minute, Pistons ball down one.

McDyess misses. Damn.

Crap. Randy Foye dribbles out the shot-clock and passes to Mark Blount in the corner with a second left. Turnover, right? No -- Blount drains a three at the buzzer. Pistons down four with less than 13 on the clock. Blount hits threes? I had no idea the center had that range. No idea.

I just checked -- counting that shot, Blount is 4-10 from three-point land on the year.

Rip drives and gets (unintentionally) raked across the face by Blount. He takes a few seconds to gather himself but then hits both free throws. Detroit still down two (92-90) with 10.3 seconds left. Wolves take a timeout, and Rip heads to the sidelines slightly bleeding at the bridge of his nose. He comes out of the game, but that's just because he can't afford to foul (he has five) on this possession.

Some kind of confusion with the refs right now -- I think about the Delfino for Rip substitution. They figure it out, Minny set to in-bound...

... but can't -- Detroit has everyone covered. Timeout Wolves. Detroit has a foul to give, which kind of works against them right now. It takes Detroit five seconds to foul KG, then another second after the ensuing in-bound to foul him again and get him to the line. Pistons down two with KG at the line for two. 4.3 seconds on the clock, Sheed just fouled out.

KG hits both. Pistons down four. There's four on the clock and the Pistons just took a timeout, but it's academic -- this is an L.

Tay misses to make it official. Game over.

Chauncey hugs KG as he's leaving the court -- I wish I knew what they were saying.