Why? 36 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds. 'Nuff said.
Anyways, remember that low-post dominance that the Pistons displayed in their dismantling of the Pacers? Apparently the towering, intimidating presence of Brendan Haywood [really hope you're getting the sarcasm there] was enough to end that notion in the early going of Tuesday night’s 104-99 loss to the Wizards. The Pistons fell far behind early while pounding the rock, misfiring jumpers from outside, and repeatedly turning the ball over. If it weren’t for Tayshaun’s outside shot, the Boys in Blue could have been down 20 by the end of the first quarter. To make matters worse, the ‘Zards actually increased their lead following Antawn Jamison's nasty knee knock with DeShawn Stevenson. Jamison, who destroyed the Pistons with his 35 points last Friday, left the game with 6+ minutes remaining in the first quarter and did not return.
Neither Matt nor I have much to say about this one. In short, a combination of hot shooting by the Wizards and pathetic interior defense by the Pistons led to an insurmountable hole. And despite finally committing to dumping the ball down low, Blue just didn’t have enough to right earlier wrongs.
[Edit: Check out DBB reader Garold's rant/stat-based recap in the comments for more on the nuts and bolts of last night's fiasco.]
Since my limited attention span will not allow for much more wallowing, a few subplots:
Wizards fans are disappointing.
With their team deconstructing a fellow Eastern Conference front-runner -- hitting shot after shot and making some key defensive plays to start the game –- fans at the Verizon Center managed only token applause. Sadly, even in the presence of another great game by Gilbert, it remained quiet throughout.
This may be sour grapes talking (let's be honest, of course it is), but I seem to remember a young Pistons team -- a team that had experienced a tough playoff loss the year before (like the Wizards), but possessed an exciting style of play (like the Wizards) and a few rising NBA talents (like the Wizards) -- being in a very similar situation four or five years ago. The main difference? The Palace was always rocking. In Detroit, the fans committed early on in the run and stayed loud and proud until… well, now. You have to wonder what Wizards fans are waiting for.
At some point during the second quarter, Flip Saunders became so fed up with his team that he sent out Carlos Delfino, Flip Murray, Lindsey Hunter, Antonio McDyess, and Dale Davis. As you may have guessed, this combination resulted in the Wizards stretching their lead. If Darko was referred to as the "Human Victory Cigar," perhaps Flip Murray should be the "Human White Flag."
Rip Hamilton needs to shut the hell up.
He’s the first-half team MVP and probably Blue’s only All-Star rep, so attribute my section title more to frustration than to any dislike of Rip. But seriously, Rip looks about as angry out there as we are at home. The difference, of course, is that aside from scaring the shit out of my dog, my string of expletives have relatively little consequence; whereas Rip has given up the second most technical free throws in the league. He’s damn near Sheed-esque this season.
Regardless of how poor the league’s officiating can be, this whole "giving-the-other-team-two-to-three-points-per-game-while-losing-by-single-digits" thing is getting out of hand. The Pistons, unlike in years past when they were atop the league in point differential, are not good enough to give away points. Hell, right now, they may not be good enough to finish .500 for the month of January – tomorrow night’s matchup against the Nets will decide that fate. [In case you are wondering, the last time the Pistons had a record under .500 for a single month was in February, 2004; not a bad year for the Pistons, mind you.]
Is the clock striking midnight on Wiz’ Cinderella?
Look, Gilbert Arenas is a nice player. And should he prove to be dominant for more than half a season, then I'll entertain including his name with Kobe, Tim Duncan, Dwyane Wade (sigh), et al. But right now, at 11:50pm on Tuesday, January 30, 2007, let me be the first blogger (or at least the first blogger I'm aware of) to say that I'm tired of Gilbert Arenas. Again, sour grapes abound, but keep the effing mouthpiece in your mouth already. The fully-clothed showers, "Hibatchi!", the All-Star vote campaign, the Team USA vendettas... it is all too much. Gilbert is the NBA equivalent of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie: It looks slick as hell. It's highlights gets people talking. There may even be a few one-liners worth taking home. But we're months from summer and people are already tired of hearing about it. And we know that, ultimately, it won't be taking home any awards.
So... yeah. I'm a little bitter.