The Pistons led by 10 after one and as many as 15 in the second, and if you walked out of the room shortly before halftime you probably would have figured this game was in the bag. Sadly, that's what the Pistons probably started thinking, as well, because it was right about then that the Bucks started crawling back, even briefly regaining the lead in the third and fourth periods. They even had a chance to win it at the buzzer with a set play with seven seconds left, but a driving layup by Mo Williams wouldn't drop, preserving a win that shouldn't have been nearly as close as it was for the Pistons.
One of the strengths of the Pistons as currently constructed is that any one of the starters can lead the team in scoring in any given night. The unspoken corollary, though, is that any one of the starters can also hide in the shadows in any given night. On Tuesday, it was Tayshaun Prince (2-12 shooting) and Chris Webber (3-8), who combined for just 13 points. Tay's struggles since Webber arrived have been pronounced, even eliciting an article in today's Free Press:
"I used to be disappointed about it, but with this starting five, it's just something that's going to happen because when you have five players that are capable like we have in this lineup, any given person is capable of making things happen," Prince said. "It's more of a harder situation to really get upset about it now than I was before."
Chauncey Billups, the primary playmaker, agreed.
"Sometimes it's like that," Billups said. "Tay is such a quiet guy, and even on the court you can forget about him a little bit just because of his demeanor."
To pin this close game on Tayshaun wouldn't be fair -- it's actually nice to see that he fired up a dozen attempts, because over time we know a fair number of those will drop.
Nazr Mohammed played five minutes early -- scoring five with one rebound -- before sitting the rest of the way. It's true he played well the last time he faced the Bucks, but I'm guessing he was being showcased for a trade as much as Flip Saunders was trying to exploit the matchups.
It would have been nice to see the starting backcourt get some rest considering they weren't able to this past weekend, but Chauncey Billups (39 minutes) and Rip Hamilton (42) ended up leading the team in minutes. Also, Antonio McDyess didn't lose his touch over the long break -- he shot 7-12 from the field to finish with 15 points and seven boards in just 25 minutes. Tonight, Grant Hill and Darko Milicic return to the Palace -- here's to hoping playing in front of a home crowd will get the Pistons fired up.