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Pistons topple Glass Joe … err, Chicago

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Ian is doing the leg work for the post, coming up with the best analogy I've heard yet about this series in the comments of Thursday's game thread:

You know how — as a kid of the ’80s — sometimes you’d think you pressed pause on the awkward Nintendo controller during Mike Tyson’s Punchout…

and say you were fighting Glass Joe at the time…

But you didn’t really pause the game -- it played on. So while you were a) funnelling Kool Aid, b) talking on the phone, or c) destroying a Micro Magic cheeseburger, Glass Joe was having his way with helpless Little Mac?

You know how when you came back to the game, Little Mac had already been knocked down once and his energy level was way down? And maybe he was doing that weird glowing/heaving thing?

You know what I’m talking about?

Well, when you came back to the game, you didn’t press reset, did you? I mean, you were fighting Glass Joe for godsakes. You just grabbed the controller and beat the hell out of him for the remainder of the fight.

And, of course, you probably still won by TKO (or, "eee aaaa uuuu," in Nintendo refspeak) just as you would have had you succeeded in pressing pause in the first place.

Well the Bulls are obviously Glass Joe (or "Glass Psyche," in the present case), and the Pistons just beat the hell out of them. My guess is that we’ll still see the TKO.

Mind you, that gem came before Detroit's comeback was complete, but that makes his point even more poignant -- as soon as Detroit started trying, everyone knew the outcome.

If you're coming into this without any frame of reference, let me fill you in real quick: Detroit was colder than cold in the first half -- a combination of poor shooting and good defense by the Bulls resulted in Detroit scoring a pathetic 28 points. Twenty-eight! For the half! Chicago brought a 16-point lead into halftime, perhaps thinking the game was in the bag.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, something happened during halftime. After a little bit of back and forth to start the third quarter, the Pistons started their comeback from what had grown into a 19-point deficit. Tayshaun Prince scored eight points during an impressive 12-0 run by Detroit, and on the heels of a Rasheed Wallace trey at the buzzer, the Pistons entered the final quarter down only one point.

The next 12 minutes were something of a formality because by then it should have been obvious what was about to transpire: the Pistons turned up the heat defensively, and with the Bulls in full-fledged panic mode (they shot just 16% in the final period), Detroit cruised to a seven-point victory.

(Not to be greedy, but I was actually mildly disappointed with the final score: I was rooting for double-digits just for the sheer hilarity of it all, but unfortunately Luol Deng scored three points on a layup and a free three with three seconds left. But hey, I'll take it.)

There's nothing too pretty in the box score -- Chris Webber was held without a single point and the bench provided all of five points. But for the second night in a row, Tayshaun led the team in scoring with 23 points and 11 boards. Rasheed scored 16 with 11 boards and five blocks, and Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups combined for 37.

Those four carried the Pistons, and it was impressive how evenly the work was distributed: they each attempted between 15 and 18 field goals, and they each played between 40 and 45 minutes.

Collectively, the team shot just 39.5% ... but the Bulls managed just 33.7%. Chicago also out-rebounded Detroit 60-43, with four of their five starters grabbing double-digit boards. Luol Deng led the way with 21 points and 14 boards. Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich finished with 16 and 13 points, respectively, but it took a combined 31 shots for it to happen -- not exactly the epitome of efficiency. Ben Wallace, who will be fined by Skiles for arriving to the arena 15 minutes late, finished with a pedestrian five points and 12 boards.

This was an ugly game, and it puts Chicago in an 0-3 hole from which no NBA team has ever pulled itself out of to win a series in 81 tries. I keep telling myself that Chicago is better than this, and part of me still believes they are, but at this point it doesn't really matter: Detroit needs just one win in their next four to advance, and at the going rate, it seems inevitable they'll close things out on Sunday.

Just for kicks -- it's practically a tradition now -- here's our nightly "watch Andres Nocioni get smoked on a dunk" highlight, this time featuring Tayshaun Prince, who just barely edged out Jason Maxiell (thanks, Tim!):

Pistons 81, Chicago 74 box score [ESPN]
GameFlow [PopcornMachine.net]
Punch Out! [YouTube]