Once again a former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket played a major part in his team's victory. Unfortunately, it wasn't the Detroit Pistons' former Jacket this time. Jarrett Jack of the Indiana Pacers hit a go ahead circus shot off the window with 37 seconds remaining to give the Pacers a 103-102 lead. The Pistons failed to convert on their next three possessions and as a result, found themselves on the wrong end of a 106-102 final score. With the loss Detroit is guaransheed their first non-winning season since 2000-01.
Coming off a home win against the Nets that clinched them a spot in the playoffs, the Pistons put up a tough fight in Indiana against a Pacers team that has been averaging nearly 120 points in the last six games. The 'Stones shot 50% and were back and forth with the Pacers all night, but came up short as Jack was the difference for Indiana. In addition to his highlight reel shot with 37 seconds left, his steal from Tayshaun Prince with 10 seconds got the Pacers to the charity stripe which helped extend their lead to four and out of the Pistons reach.
Richard Hamilton led the Pistons in scoring with 23 points while Antonio McDyess picked up his team-high 16th double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Will Bynum, who was teammates with Jarrett Jack at Georgia Tech, was efficient off the bench again with 16 points in 21 minutes.
Danny Granger, who is in his fourth season out of New Mexico, led the Pacers with 24 points. He killed the Pistons this year as he averaged a little over 30 points per game against them. Jarrett Jack finished with 18.
Since the Chicago Bulls took care of business against the Charlotte Bobcats tonight, the Pistons are now a game behind Chi-town for the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference with just two games left in the season. The Bulls and Pistons square off on Monday night, but because the Bulls hold the tiebreaker, the Pistons would have to win Monday and Wednesday and need the Bulls to lose their final game of the season to jump them in the standings. The Bulls play Toronto on Wednesday.
As for the No. 6 and No. 5 spots, the Pistons can pretty much kiss those chances goodbye, unless they win out and Philadelphia and Miami lose out, both unlikely (but possible) scenarios. Even if Miami lost out and the Pistons won out, it would still come down to the 5th or 6th criterion of the two-team tiebreaker which I feel like Miami possesses.
While I would prefer not to play Cleveland or Boston in the first round, it won't break my heart. If we are going to be a dangerous team in this year's playoffs, being the No. 8 or No. 7 seed makes that role much more intriguing. I would have no problem going into the playoffs playing the No. 1 or the defending champs with a chance to shock the world and instill even more fear in the hearts of the rest of the playoff crop. If anything, it would definitely make for a better story.
Write this down: This was the Pistons first loss since I started running this blog.