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Pistons lap Pacers

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The Pistons won their 10th in a row on Wednesday by sticking with what's worked best all year: spreading the ball around. Nobody scored more than 14 points and yet they still found a way to win by 16. On the second night of a back-to-back, Flip Saunders turned to the bench early and often: none of the starters topped 30 minutes, and two of them (Rip Hamilton and Antonio McDyess) didn't even crack 20.

With all that PT up for grabs, Amir Johnson actually led the team with almost 31 minutes, scoring eight points with a season-high nine boards and a career-high seven blocks -- not to mention at least one or two more rejections that the scoring crew robbed him. He's pure energy when he comes into the game and lately has made a habit of diving after loose balls in addition to patrolling the air space above the rim. He's obviously still learning and could have had a better night shooting (3-8 from the field), but he proved tonight that he doesn't need to be perfect to make an impact on this team.

Jason Maxiell was no less impressive, going 11 and 11 with a pair of blocks in just 22 minutes. The rookie backcourt didn't have the best night shooting (they combined to go 5-18) but continue to make strides. Based on his play from the past few weeks, there's no doubt that Rodney Stuckey deserves to play in the Rookie/Sophomore Showcase this weekend -- it's a shame he'll miss out because of all the time he missed with his broken hand. Even Jarvis Hayes joined the fun on Wednesday, showing the ability to drive the lane as well as shoot from long-distance while putting up eight points.

I feel compelled to at least mention the Pacers but I don't really know what to say except, wow, this team is really bad. They shot just 31.6% on the night, including a truly abysmal 3-22 from the field in the third quarter. I was looking forward to seeing Danny Granger, who's having a solid season, and even Mike Dunleavy, who's redeemed his career (somewhat) this year, but they didn't do anything of note, scoring nine and 11 points, respectively. This wasn't supposed to be a very good team in the first place, and without two starters (Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley) they're pretty much doomed on most nights.

The only negative for the Pistons was that it's the last game before the All-Star break -- with 10 wins in a row, you'd like to see this team ride out their momentum instead of scattering for an extra long weekend. But since their success has been the result of solid play all-around and not spectacular play from a couple of players, there's no reason to think they won't re-discover their rhythm.

Pistons 96, Pacers 80 box score [NBA.com]
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