Considering the Rockets beat the 76ers 50 on Sunday, the Sixers actually made a bit of progress on Tuesday against the Pistons, losing by "just" 21 points at the Palace. Hey, every little bits counts, so congrats on that, Philly.
Like I mentioned in the preview, I actually went to the game, tagging along with a friend who had some incredible (as in "a dozen rows back from Mr. Davidson") tickets from his work. It's a different view from that close (one my cameraphone doesn't do justice), and while I'll take it any day of the week over the view from my couch, it's also a bit more difficult to get into the flow of the game.
With my head on a swivel and everything grabbing my attention ("Hey, toasted almonds, I love those ... nice, Automotion is dancing again ... I want to catch that t-shirt! ... why is the waitress so slow with my beer?"), it's harder to notice things like 6-0 runs and small shifts in momentum. Not that I'm complaining at all -- if I could only be so lucky to have that "problem" 41 times a year.
Even so, I didn't need instant replay or Blaha and Special K in the background to realize Tayshaun Prince played a hell of a game. He scored 30 on 13-20 shooting, adding six boards, four assists, three steals and a block. Perhaps we should have seen this coming, because he simply abused the Sixers the first two times he faced them this year, scoring 25 in November and a career-high 33 in January, shooting a combined 68.6% from the field. (Between you and me, I think Tayshaun might know a little something about taking it to the glass.) His chirping with the refs didn't earn him any new friends amongst Philly fans, but it's hard for the Sixers to deny that he has their number this year.
Flip Murray led the Pistons with seven assists, which is all the more impressive once you realize the Sixers as a team finished with just 10. He also pitched in 12 points and a steal. Rip Hamilton atoned for his frigid fourth quarter on Sunday by shooting a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line, finishing the game 5-10 from the field with 18 points. He's still getting knocked to the floor more than usual lately, but Rasheed Wallace apparently isn't giving him any pity.
Antonio McDyess picked up a technical foul in the first quarter and finished 0-3 with no points, but he did grab six boards in 20 minutes. Jason Maxiell had a productive 16 minutes, scoring four points and five boards with a block, doing just enough to make me proud I was wearing my "Eats Babies" t-shirt (which drew a couple of chuckles but more confused stares -- mission accomplished!).
I was curious what Chris Webber would do tonight, facing the team he opened the year with and all. According to the AP recap, he avoided going out of his way to say anything to Philly's coaching staff but greeted his teammates warmly. Once the ball tipped, he scored nine points and grabbed seven boards in 28 minutes. He obviously didn't get the personal stats some players would have been looking for in their first game against their former team (perhaps in part because he's been fighting the flu), but I think winning by 20+ points is enough of an exclamation mark.
As for the Sixers, Andre Iguodala had a very quiet night with just six points in 32 minutes, apparently due to a back injury suffered early in the game. He's usually the No. 1 option on the team, and with him hobbling the rest of the offense fell to pieces -- they shot just 37% from the field as a team. Heck, even the sweet-shooting Kyle Korver finished the night 3-14 from the floor. Detroit native Willie Green scored 20 points in 35 minutes ... but you know it can't be a good sign when Green is your team's leading scorer.
From here, the Pistons embark on a mini two-game road trip to Houston and San Antonio on Thursday and Friday. There's no guarantee that Chauncey Billups will be able to play in either of those games, but fortunately Lindsey Hunter will be eligible to play when the Pistons return home against the Bucks on Sunday.