I hit up YouTube a little bit ago hoping to find a good video from a fan who attended last night's game. Instead, I got what's above. The audio sucks and the focus is blurry. It's so bad, in fact, I almost didn't post it. But I thought about it a second, and you know what, who cares? I can see enough to understand what's going on, and I can hear enough to get a feel for what the atmosphere felt like. A blurry, muffled video is better than no video at all.
If you watched the game, you might already know where I'm going with this, but last night's game was like the video above: it was ugly. The Pistons shot 44% against a bad team and waited until the final minutes to put the nail in the coffin, despite the fact that the Pacers were missing Mike Dunleavy, last year's second-leading scorer, due to injury. But c'mon, we waited all summer and into the fall to get that Game 6 loss out of our collective mouth, an ugly win is still a freaking win!
Plus, unlike in years past, this year's squad has handy ready-made excuses that are actually valid: namely, adjusting to a new head coach, new offensive sets and new rotation. And when you look at the progress made in each of those areas, well, there's nothing really to complain about. Michael Curry did a solid job managing his roster, playing 11 guys before halftime and giving 10 players at least 14 minutes on the night.
Remember how he promised Tayshaun Prince would be more assertive? He wasn't lying: Tay led the team in points (19) and attempts (15). (Of course, the questions remains: can he do this and play tough defense? Danny Granger lit it up for 33 points on just 16 shots.)
Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups are as rock solid as they come, but they shot 5-13 apiece while Rip turned the ball over five times. That's not going to happen most nights, and when they bounce back the team's shooting percentage will climb. Rasheed Wallace shot 4-11, but hey, that's better than the 23.6% he shot in the preseason, right? Besides, he gets a pass in my book simply for starring in this awesome picture.
What about the crowded frontcourt? The Amir McMax PF Monster combined for 21 points, 15 boards and five blocks (albeit in 58 minutes). Amir Johnson tallied just a single foul, and all three of his makes were from at least 18 feet out:
Eat it, Asst. Coach Negative Nancy. Turns out the guy's range extends to more than just above the rim.
Arron "Snowflake/Showbe/Spellcheck" Afflalo did his job as a defensive stopper (three steals) and also flexed a little range himself with one triple. After watching him shoot just .208 from beyond the arc as a rookie, seeing him tear it up (7-of-10) through eight preseason games + one regular season game is a little exciting. This is somewhat of a fluke (he's not going to shoot 70% all season, duh) but it's probably also the result of tens of thousands of jump shots he took this summer. If he keeps bringing that defense and becomes a legitimate threat from three-point land, he'll be starting one of these years.
Okay, time to rein it back in -- the excitement and "newness" of the season has me getting a little ahead of myself. But that's the joy of opening night. Basketball is back.