By Ben Osborne
I went to the Pistons-Nets game last night and intended to have extensive Game Notes up first thing this morning. Then life and magazine work intervened, and now it’s almost 4 PM. Oh well. There are still some things I jotted down at The Swamp that are worth recapping…
-Standing on the court pregame, on the periphery of Flip Saunders press q+a (conducted right in front of the Pistons bench), I’m approached by Slamonline blogger Rodney Stuckey (who I’ve never spoken to in my life), who eagerly asks me if there’s anything I want to interview him about. I tell him no thanks because I’m from SLAM and he’s well covered on our site, which he deems an acceptable answer. Apparently his hand is almost back to 100% and he is eager to do another blog for us…
-The mood during the Pistons pregame shooting routines, and in their locker room, can best be described as jovial. I credit Sheed.
-Alan Paul has written about this guy before, but Pistons trainer Mike Abdenour is nuts. I’ve seen him harangue refs plenty of times, but now his target is the bus company that shuttled the Pistons to the game; apparently, the driver left the arena while the bus still had some players’ belongings on board. He is currently cursing up a storm on his cell phone about this driver. Funny.
-Rip Hamilton and I talk fatherhood for a minute; I had my first child on Oct. 18, Rip had his first on Oct. 31. “It’s a job,” Rip says with a smile. True that, but a very rewarding one so far…
-Stop in the Nets locker room to leave an early copy of our new issue in Jason Kidd’s locker. You will learn why, as well as a whole lot more about this issue, on the site in the next several days.
-Out by the court, Sean Williams is wearing a goofy grin and signing tons of autographs. He gives off the “still can’t totally believe I’m here” vibe.
-After a meal of “Chicken Cordon Bleu”, string beans and a hot dog (standard, B- fare), I grab my sit behind the baseline. I’ve seen the Pistons on TV this season, but never on a broadcast that focused in on their post-introduction escapades. If you haven’t seen it, after each player is introduced and the starters make a circle at the same time the reserves make a circle (not unusual), Rasheed playfully breaks into the reserve huddle and does a sort of line dance in the middle, stomping his feet and waving his arm. Whether this fires anyone up or not, I have no idea. Whether it keeps things light, I have no doubt.
-Chauncey looks great this game, just like he has all season. His poor play in the Cavs series last Playoffs is rightfully considered a huge reason why the Pistons lost; his revival figures to be a huge reason the Pistons can make it back to the Finals they felt they should have been in last season.
-The Nets timeout entertainment, Team Hype, a group of seemingly roided up dudes and scantily clad females who do back flips and try to fire up the crowd, is “presented by Johnny Rockets.” Why?
-Rip is so skinny that his elbow sleeve is loose.
-45-44 Pistons at the half. The Pistons go through the half in a workmanlike fashion, while the Nets seem a little scared and sit through multiple timeouts called by Coach Lawrence Frank, who seems terrified that the Pistons always seem two minutes from a blowout.
-In the third, the inevitable happens. The Pistons continue their smooth execution on offense, while consistently disguising their defenses and ultimately forcing the ball away from the Nets only two real offensive threats, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson, who each attempt only 11 field goals. Williams (5-for-9, 11 points) and Josh Boone (6-10 from floor, 0-4 from free throw line) are decent, but hardly make the Pistons pay for this strategy. Jason Kidd (13 assists to pass Gary Payton for sixth all time but 0-8 from the floor) doesn’t make them pay either.
-Whenever Williams scores, Nets PR guru and PA announcer Gary Sussmann, who has a knack for making corny lines amusing, sez “Seansational.”
-With the Nets struggling on offense, the Pistons pull away, going up by 14 after three and cruising to a 101-83 victory. They’ve got a good game coach (who still needs to prove it in the Playoffs) with good schemes, incredible scoring balance (all 5 starters average in double figures), great chemistry and major motivation thanks to last year’s Playoff ouster and this year’s NBA-wide Celtics obsession, which has left them relatively ignored. I’m impressed.
-The less said about the destined-for-.500-and-a-first-round-Playoff loss Nets the better. And to prove my lack of wanting to hear anything said about them, I leave the arena before anyone talks postgame. Fatherly duties await.