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Pistons clip Los Angeles

"Out of the 48 minutes, I would say we dominated for 45 minutes," Flip Saunders said after the Pistons' 98-80 romp over the Clippers.

We can count on one hand the number of times we've heard Flip talk like this after a game this year, and the fact that we're hearing it 1) this late in the year; 2) after a road game; 3) after a game in which Lindsey Hunter and Rasheed Wallace were suspended makes it all the better.

Remember how Chauncey Billups couldn't hit the broad side of an Oliver Miller with his shot last week? He found his stroke in Los Angeles. He shot 6-12 from the field and 3-5 from three-point range, including a 34-footer at the buzzer before halftime. He finished with 19 points, 12 assists and six boards.

Jason Maxiell started in place of Rasheed Wallace and played 35 minutes. The fact he finished with two boards is a disappointment, but he also chipped in nine points and four blocks, drawing praise from Flip Saunders ...

"I thought Maxey played Brand about as well as anybody can play him one-on-one," Saunders said.

... as well as Mike Dunleavy:

"Maxiell is a much more physical player and shot blocker," Dunleavy said. "He is much more athletic than Rasheed. The only thing he doesn't bring to the game is outside shooting."

Elton Brand, incidentally, was held to 11 points with five turnovers, though he did grab 12 boards with six assists.

I rarely even mention Chris Webber these days, but I think I agree with Joe from Need4Sheed when he says "Chris Webber is looking like our most solid all around player right now." He finished with 19 points and 11 boards. He's scored at least 19 in his last three games and has averaged 9.3 boards per game this month -- and that's even counting his impossible-to-quantify ability to keep the offense flowing. While he's still more "solid" than "dynamic," his arrival in Detroit has easily been the most important transaction in the entire league this year (and yes, this means I'm finally agreeing that his arrival ranks right up there with getting Rasheed in 2004.)

As a team, the Pistons shot 54% from the field, and when you take out Tayshaun Prince (4-13) game and Flip Murray's (1-6) performance, they shot 64%. It's nice to see the team get into a rhythm like this -- I just hope they stay in the groove considering they'll finish up the week with games against Phoenix and Dallas. First up, though, is Seattle tomorrow and Portland on Wednesday.

The game was tape-delayed in metro Detroit (and simply not televised elsewhere), but DBB reader Michael was actually at the Staples Center and offered a few observations:

- In pre-game introductions the Clips’ PA announcer referred to our favorite Baby Eater as "Maxwell" (getting a laugh out of Delfino) and continued to do so until someone tipped him off at some point during the first half on how to correctly address the man.

- There was a huge contingent of Detroit fans, compared to a rather paltry showing from hometown Clippers fans. Pistons fans were largely audible throughout the game and possibly outnumbered the Clips fans. I’m curious if our cheers are clear on the broadcast.

- Our favorite franchise architect Joe D. sat a couple rows behind the broadcasters at center court for the length of the game.

I'm guessing not too many people will mispronounce Maxiell's name come this time next year. Great stuff, Michael. And keep it coming, guys -- nothing beats first-hand accounts.

Pistons 98, Clippers 80 box score [ESPN]
No 'Sheed, no problem [Detroit Free Press]
Pistons roll over Clippers [Detroit News]
No Need 4 Sheed tonight [Need4Sheed]
DBB preview: Pistons-Clippers is tape-delayed