'Don't touch me there!'by Jake Appleman

It was a night that started out with the Pistons running roughshod over the overmatched Nets—despite laudable early aggressiveness from Vince Carter and Yi Jianlian—and the fans booing the mascot and the party patrol team. It was a night that ended with a gimpy point guard stealing the show by getting to the line 24 (!) times.

It was also a night that began with vintage beauty for Allen Iverson, the newest Piston (figurative and literal). A.I. darted across the lane, slicing left to right, and flipped in a patented running layup off glass. Shortly thereafter, he nailed a mid-range step back™ and a pull-up three. He got to the line a lot, played efficient offensively, and credited his new teammates afterwards for making the game easier while also noting that he took what the defense gave.

It wasn’t all that weird, to be honest, watching Iverson do his thing in the red white and blue. His diiiiiiiiiirty cross of Eduardo Najera later in the game should be referred to as “Cruz Azul” (Blue Cross), the name of a Mexican soccer team and also the perfect description of what the man in the blue uniform did to the native Mexican.

The Pistons let up a bit in the second quarter, failing to put the game away early because of some poor bench play (Walter-Fabio-Herrmann jacking up horrible shots; Kwame throwing cake at the rim on a pair of free throws; bad passes and unforced errors, etc.) and open looks that just didn’t go down. The Nets capitalized in the second and third quarters by building on the energy that they came out of the gate with after weathering Detroit’s late first quarter run.

What's this? A pass?Carter’s passing throughout the first half was particularly impressive. He showed good chemistry with Boone, finding the young big with nice look-away passes and tossed an Eli Manning touchdown to Najera. 18 and 6 with a 7:1 A/T ratio for Vince.  Anyway, the reason Vince’s passing was impressive is because he did everything he could to try and help his mates put the ball in the basket, which is something that they need. Against a solid defensive outfit like Detroit, the more careful creativity, the better. At least until Devin Harris realized that he was just plain faster than everyone. The tenacity Harris showed getting to the rim time and time again on this 38-point career night was awe-inspiring to the buzzing crowd.

Check out his second half:

11:42 — And-one; sends telepathic text message to Gary Sussman, imploring him to make a “Milwaukee’s Best” reference later–related, he laughs about the one skunky beer he drank in college and wonders if others outside of Middle America realize that Milwaukee’s Best is also known as “BEAST.”

10:36 – Converts four-foot runner; recognizes that the cup is half full.

8:36 – Makes layup; appreciates working in front of all the extra Iverson fans in attendance.

8:02 – Fouled shooting a three, nails all three freebies; appreciates the luck and vows to get to the tin more often.

5:47- Makes a technical free throw; picks up a mop and wipes Sheed’s tears off the floor.

4:26 – Makes two free throws; wonders if Coach Frank will discuss his great work ethic during the post-game press conference, most specifically the importance of working hard all the time, not just when you’re trying to bust out of a slump.

3:55 – Makes two free throws; receives complimentary dinner invitation from Allen Iverson, complete with a note that says, “please stop!”

3:18 – Makes two free throws; mutters to self, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

2:57 – Makes two free throws; gets golden calculator from Andre 3000 “to divide the time it took to look inside and realize that real guys go for real down-to-Mars girls.”

2:38 – Checks out of the game. Tells Keyon that he “can Doo or Sea Doo”; does some invisible wind sprints while seated.

Head in the armpit. Nice.Fourth Quarter

11:47 – Makes layup; plays Bill Raftery “with the blow-by!” loop on a cassette deck located next to his cerebellum.

11:15 – Nails 18-footer; feeds pet gym rat.

8:15 – Drains two free throws; makes Rodney hasn’t “Stuckey’d” defense pun.

0:55 – Makes seven footer to atone for recent missed shots and turnover; uses a hand signal to remind his cousin, Aaron, to Netflix him “Atonement”.

0:19 – Converts layup while being fouled; misses the and-one free throw; thinks better of inventing a dance about sealing envelopes, but grabs the carom and goes back to the line.

0:18 – Nets two free throws; begins to appreciate the win.

0:12 – Splits a pair; ponders the merit of 20 as a whole number in contrast to 21.

0:00 – Gets X-Ray on ankle he sprained earlier in the half; for real, it looked awful when it happened, like he was going to be out for months. Good thing he toughed it out, huh?

Notes

– A.I., Rip, Prince, Rasheed and Amir start for Detroit. There’s no need to explain to anybody why this is fantastic.

– Jay-Z is sitting next to the trainer, Tim Walsh. His sunglasses are so ridiculous that he can actually see the sun inside of a building notorious for being allergic to light and noise.

– The Chelsea—yes that Chelsea—u-18 soccer team is sitting next to the media section. They’re in town for a tournament. The coaches marvel at the height of the basketball players and the pop culture that comes whizzing at them from the Jumbotron. They also engage in Thunderstix. The next Didier Drogba is banging a thunderstix together. Culture shock, indeed.

– The back of Vince’s head and the back of Jarvis Hayes’ head are third cousins. It’s disorienting, especially when Jarvis launchs an ill-advised shot. I’m just saying.

– Nice ball fake from Yi before wetting a jumper. Yi came out strong. Good for him.

– At one point in the first quarter, Lawrence Frank is rolling with a Brook Lopez, Mo Ager, Jarvis Hayes, Keyon Dooling, Eduardo Najera quintet. The operative word is “stunning”.

–ATTENTION NETS FANS: YOU NEED TO GET TO THE IZOD CENTER THROUGH NEW JERSEY TRANSIT NOW. DON’T GO TO PORT AUTHORITY. YOU NEED TO TAKE A TRAIN FROM PENN STATION. IT MIGHT SEEM LIKE A HASSLE, BUT THE SECACUS TRAIN STATION WHERE YOU TRANFSER IS IMMACULATE. AND IF YOU GET AN AUTOMATED MESSAGE ON YOUR CELL PHONE ABOUT AN EXPIRING CAR WARRANTY WHEN YOU DON’T EVEN OWN A CAR, DON’T WORRY, IT HAPPENS TO EVERYONE.

–A great win for this Nets team.