Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pistons Rally to Clinch Central Division

Although many sources reported that the Pistons clinched the Central Division with their win against Atlanta, the Pistons did not win that title until their victory tonight over the Miami Heat.

You may not remember the game on Feb 12, 2006 in Miami, but I sure do. They had a comfortable lead before Dwayne Wade scored the last 17 points for the Heat, for a 2 point victory over the Pistons.

"You never want to have a player that has so much confidence against you that he thinks he can just take the game over at any time," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "At least he's not going to think he can walk on the floor and score 17 straight on us."

Tonight, Wade was held to a season low 13 points in a 82-73 Pistons win. Wade only shot 3 for 15 from the field. Miami's 73 points were a season low. Leading the Pistons was Billups, who scored 24 with 10 assists. Shaq also put down 27 points in a season-high 43 minutes of playing time. Shaq had sat out his last game with a thumb injury, Wade was questionable to begin with, and Alonzo Mourning went down in the second quarter with a leg injury.

Regardless of the so-called injuries, the Heat lead by 11 points at the half. They trailed by as many as 12 points in the 2nd half, but the Pistons managed to rally and to take a one-point lead by the end of the 3rd quarter.

Detroit has won 16 straight at home, five short of the team record. The Pistons also clinched the outright Central Division title, and reduced their magic number for the East title to six over Miami. The Pistons have not lost a regular-season home game in regulation since March 28, 2005, against Dallas.

The Pistons became the only NBA team since 1980 to start the same lineup -- Prince, Billups, Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace -- in the first 67 games of a season.

The Pistons performance did not equate to one of their best games, but they defended their home court successfully. They did show impressive patience and defense to stay in the game after an awful first half shooting performance. How awful? 31% from the field with a season-low 35 points at half time, including a 1 for 10 contribution from the bench.

"Both teams wanted to win this game in the worst way," Billups said. "It was kind of an ugly game, but the intensity was there. This was a playoff game. It really was."

"This wasn't any kind of statement -- you make statements in the playoffs," Rasheed Wallace said. "This was just playing a game against a very good team."

Congratulations Detroit!

No comments: