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Archive → March, 2009

Game Preview: Detroit at Cleveland


Date: March 31, 2009

Time: 7:00 p.m.


Detroit: 36-37

Cleveland: 60-13

Probable starters







Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +9.5

Over/under: 180

Score: Cleveland wins 95-85

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 107.1 (20th)

Detroit defensive rating: 107.8 (14th)

Detroit pace: 86.8 (29th)

Cleveland offensive rating: 112.4 (4th)

Cleveland defensive rating: 101.9 (2nd)

Cleveland pace: 88.8 (25th)

Score: Cleveland wins 97-92


Everyone expects Rasheed Wallace to be back tonight, according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. Except, maybe, Wallace.

“It’s a torn muscle,” he said. “Let me to tear your muscle and see how you feel. I will be out there when I can run and move without it hurting.”

The Allen Iverson bench experiment becomes official tonight, too. He has come off the bench seven times in his career, but never in consecutive games. Will he respond as well as he did Sunday once that reality sets in?

McCosky contradicts himself

Chris McCosky of the Detroit News had a very strange column today.

He criticizes Allen Iverson for saying he felt attacked about coming off the bench:

“It was an injury I never had before and it was tough to deal with. But, no matter how many positive things I do in the community, no matter how many things I do for other people, with writers and commentators, positive things are not going to sell when it comes to Allen Iverson. Come up with a negative story about Allen Iverson then everybody wants to listen. They don’t want to hear nothing positive about Allen Iverson.”

Goodness gracious what a bunch of garbage.

First of all, who was it that accused him of malingering? Reggie Miller did it on a TNT broadcast. Maybe other national media people did, but I didn’t see or hear any of it.

My first inclination was to dig up McCosky’s blog posts that accused Iverson of malingering. But that’s not even necessary. McCosky criticizes Iverson for how he handled his injury and loss of starting spot in the rest of this column.

Why couldn’t he have come out and said a month ago what he said Sunday?

I will tell you why: Because he was wrestling with his ego and the notion of coming off the bench. Had he said that right up front — that he couldn’t get his mind around coming off the bench — nobody would have blamed him. This is a guy who scored more than 23,000 points, a four-time scoring champ, a guy who after Sunday had come off the bench just seven times in 884 career games.

But for good measure, here are McCosky’s past takes on Iverson:

March 25

What Reggie Miller said on the TNT broadcast Tuesday night was what a lot of people, myself included, have thought and hinted and even wrote about — that Allen Iverson’s injury was more about a bruised ego than a hurt back.

March 2:

I am not a doctor and I am not AI. I don”t know how much pain or discomfort he”s feeling. But I know how tough he is. I know his pain threshold is as high as anybody who”s ever played. And I also know he wants no part of coming off the Pistons” bench, which will be his role for the rest of the season. He made that clear before, when Michael Curry was trying to decide whether to bench Rip Hamilton or AI.

If Iverson”s back is truly injured, I apologize. But if all that”s hurt is his pride, he should just say so. Say he can”t accept it. Say he doesn”t want to be a distraction. Say he doesn”t want to answer questions about why he”s not playing and taking the focus away from the team. Say whatever, and then let the team do whatever it has to do — either send him home or buy him out, whatever.

McCosky is usually on top of his game. What happened here?

Professional Game Coverage: Detroit 101, Philadelphia 97

Detroit News

Pistons win in Allen Iverson’s return,” by Chris McCosky

Just (Iverson’s) presence alone helped. Hamilton was able to rest for nine minutes in the fourth quarter. He came back strong and sealed the victory with two clutch jumpers in the final 2:29.

“They wanted to leave me out there, but I told them to take me out (at the end of the third) so I could rest,” said Hamilton, who finished with 14 points. “I don’t want to overkill myself to the point where I start playing on one leg again. Allen gave me a chance to rest and I came back rested and made my shots.”

A.I. adapts to coming off the bench,” by Chris McCosky

He doesn’t love it — that much is clear. But if what he said Sunday is truly how he feels, then Allen Iverson is going to do everything in his power to make this coming-off-the-bench thing work.

“You know, a person with my resume and all the things I’ve done in this league, to be coming off the bench, I just thought that would be tough for me mentally,” he said, after returning to the Pistons for the first time since Feb. 25 and scoring eight points in the Pistons 101-97 victory over the 76ers. “I know I can get through the whole thing physically, but mentally it was tough for me.

“But I just thought about the big picture and that’s helping my teammates get wins. The more I thought about that, the more I relished the challenge of coming off the bench.”

Detroit Free Press

Allen Iverson returns after 16 games out, Pistons beat his old team,” by George Sipple

“Bodies were live, guys were much better and it was a good game for us to get,” Curry said. “It was a tough team for us to play, especially on a back-to-back. They’re young and athletic. They’re not just athletic but they’re fast. The difference is you can play athletic guys but Andre (Iguodala) and Thaddeus Young really get out and run. They are as fast as any wings in the league. Any time we turned the ball over, they are out and running and making it difficult to get back. Wedid a much better job the second half taking care of the basketball and that’s what gave us the chance to win.”

After making nine turnovers in the first half, the Pistons had two the rest of the game.

Allen Iverson ‘frustrated’ about those questioning time off for injury,” by George Sipple

Iverson said he was frustrated by people questioning why he had been out so long.

“You get all the praise in the world for being a warrior … and then when I get an injury that I’ve never had before and an injury that actually bothered me the way it did, people started to question me,” he said. “That was the toughest thing. I had this warrior image my whole career, and then I get one injury where I can’t go — I think it’s more or less people can’t believe it — so they expect me to play the Superman role every time.”

Booth Newspapers

Allen Iverson returns, Pistons knock off Sixers,” by A. Sherrod Blakely

But it was clear Iverson’s teammates were pleased to have the 10-time all-star back.

“It’s definitely fun,” said Will Bynum, when asked about playing with Iverson. “It’s like teams have to pick their poison; it opens things up out there. We can get out and run and have some fun and bring some excitement in here. I love playing with him.”

Pistons’ Kwame Brown delivers in post vs. Sixers,” by A. Sherrod Blakely

Brown had 13 points and 11 rebounds, giving him his second double-double as a Piston.

“Kwame was huge,” Pistons coach Michael Curry said.

Because Philadelphia starts a relatively small frontcourt, Curry wanted to establish a post presence early.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Pistons’ high-flying finish puts away 76ers,” by Kate Fagan

Outside the Palace of Auburn Hills, with snow coating cars, it looked like midwinter. But inside, the 76ers and the Detroit Pistons, battling for postseason position, looked much closer to spring.

Which they are.

Last night, either the Pistons were the more desperate team or they received a boost from Allen Iverson’s return. Maybe it was a little bit of both: They ended a 101-97 win over the Sixers with an 18-8 run.

DiLeo hopes streakiness will level off,” by Kate Fagan

Sixers center Samuel Dalembert strained his right calf in the first quarter last night and did not return.

A Motor City Loss,” by Kate Fagan

After the game, Iverson said: ”I’m just as happy as I can be to come back and be around the guys and get in front of the fans and contribute and get a win. And now my whole thing is trying to be the best 6th man I can be, the best 6th man in the league.”

Philadelphia Daily News

Silent whistles haunt Sixers in loss to Pistons,” by Bernard Fernandez

The schedule is not nearly so cheery now. At 37-35, the Sixers not only have fallen to the sixth seed, but the Pistons (36-37), currently at No. 7, have closed within 1 1/2 games of them. Next up is tomorrow night’s home game against the smokin’-hot Atlanta Hawks, with another meeting against the Pistons set for April 4 at the Wachovia Center. Two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have the best record in the league, also are on a stretch run that has melted down to just 10 more regular-season contests.

Game Review: Iverson returns as sixth man

Allen Iverson danced awkwardly in the center of his teammates’ huddle before Detroit’s 101-97 win over the 76ers yesterday.

The Pistons were fortunate that was the most uncomfortable moment of Iverson’s return from the back injury that kept him out more than a month.

Iverson, who came off the bench for just the seventh time of his career today, had been quite the distraction. His injury popped up right when Pistons coach Michael Curry decided to start Richard Hamilton. At times, it didn’t seem like Iverson would play for Detroit again.

Iverson didn’t have best game today — eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, two assists, two rebounds, two turnovers, two fouls and -2 plus-minus rating in 21 minutes. But he played hard and didn’t show any resentment about coming off the bench.

And, most importantly, he helped Detroit win a game it seemed they were destined to lose.

  • The Pistons had lost six of eight.
  • They hadn’t won consecutive games in more than three weeks.
  • They had lost seven straight in the second game of back-to-backs.
  • They were 2-12 on Sundays.
  • And they were 24-30 with Iverson.

Iverson wasn’t the main reason the Pistons won. Tayshaun Prince scored 21 points on 11 shots, most of them coming when Detroit’s offense was sputtering. And Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum combined for 28 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and three steals.

But Iverson fit right in, and that’s a far cry from the other times he came off the bench. One was his first game with the Nuggets, and the other five were punishments for missing practice or meetings.

The six other times Iverson came off the bench

Nov. 28, 2009: Detroit 107, Milwaukee 97

Iverson was benched by Pistons coach Michael Curry to begin the game, punishment for missing a mandatory team practice on Thanksgiving. He apologized Friday morning, then sat on the bench for almost 10 minutes as Rodney Stuckey started instead.

Dec. 22, 2006: Sacramento 101, Denver 96

He played 39 minutes after a whirlwind of a day in which he arrived in Denver in the late afternoon, was whisked to the Pepsi Center, passed his physical, took a few jumpers on the practice court then suited up to be on the floor for tipoff.

He spent the first 8:35 on the bench. When he finally came in, he received a standing ovation, and never left the floor.

Feb. 17, 2004: Denver 106, Philadelphia 85

Allen Iverson didn’t take his removal from Philadelphia’s starting lineup lightly, and he let everyone know how he felt about 76ers interim coach Chris Ford.

“I was angry all day from the shootaround on,” Iverson said. “Going in there and having a meeting and being with some guy that I don’t really know, telling me that I wasn’t going to start and what I have to do for us to be successful …

“I was just upset about being here eight years and somebody being here for one game and benching me.”

The star guard expressed his displeasure with Ford after Philadelphia lost to the Denver Nuggets 106-85 Tuesday night behind 28 points from Carmelo Anthony.

Iverson, who missed Monday’s practice and was held out of the starting lineup by Ford, led the 76ers with 27 points and a season-high 14 assists. He entered the game with 4:39 left in the first quarter and played 36 minutes overall.

“The relationship between us goes out the window,” said Iverson, the NBA’s leading scorer. “I told him why I couldn’t make it, and it wasn’t enough.”

Iverson said his plane was delayed after he played in the All-Star game in Los Angeles.

“The most frustrating thing was hearing him say he felt like I didn’t have respect for my teammates and that they don’t have respect for me, and that they feel like I don’t bring it every day,” Iverson said. “A coach has never, ever questioned whether I brung it every day.

“I sat there and cheered the guys on, and when I got my opportunity I came in and played the way I always play, and that is hard.

“I don’t have to be his friend, I don’t have to speak to him. I can play for him, though. I can play hard for him and I can do exactly what he wants me to do, night in and night out. I definitely will do that. But as far as having a relationship with him outside of basketball, that’s done from Day One.”

Ford, named head coach on Feb. 10, coached his second game with the Sixers on Tuesday.

Ford didn’t respond to Iverson’s remarks, saying before the game he was benching Iverson for an unexcused absence from practice.

March 1, 2002: Philadelphia 110, New Jersey 102

Allen Iverson didn’t pout after being punished for arriving late to the morning shootaround. He simply went out and made life miserable for the New Jersey Nets.

Allen Iverson hit 15 of 30 shots, and added five rebounds and five assists for Philly.

Iverson, who did not start, also shook off a leg injury to score 43 points and lead thePhiladelphia 76ers to a 110-102 victory over New Jersey on Friday night.

“It’s different. I’m not used to it,” Iverson said of beginning the game on the bench. “You break a rule and you have to pay for it and I accept that. I guess I was fighting for the sixth man award.”

Feb. 15, 1997: Miami 125, Philadelphia 99

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

They also were without Allen Iverson for the first quarter. Iverson had been benched for missing practice on Friday and wouldn’t talk to reporters last night.

The leftovers weren’t enough to make the game competitive.

Jan. 8, 1997: Dallas 111, Philadelphia 93

From The Press of Atlantic City:

Rookie guard Iverson arrived at the arena 30 minutes before gametime, missing a team meeting. Davis removed him from the starting lineup and said he would be fined.

When asked why he was late, Iverson stammered and groped for an answer before a helpful media member offered an excuse.

“Yeah, I got stuck in traffic,” Iverson said with a smile, sounding like John Lovitz’ “Tommy Flanagan” character from “Saturday Night Live.” “It’s no big deal. I wish I didn’t, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

In those games, Iverson averaged 24 points, eight assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals. But his teams went just 2-4.

I’ll take the win with a less impressive stat line and no distractions any day. And at this point, I think Iverson would, too.

Maybe we were too quick to judge him.

Live Blog: Detroit vs. Philadelphia

Game Preview: Detroit vs. Philadelphia


Date: March 29, 2009

Time: 6:00 p.m.


Detroit: 35-37

Philadelphia: 37-34

Probable starters







Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit -2

Over/under: 184.5

Score: Detroit wins 93-91

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 106.8 (20th)

Detroit defensive rating: 107.7 (14th)

Detroit pace: 86.8 (29th)

Philadelphia offensive rating: 107.3 (1t9h)

Philadelphia defensive rating: 106.6 (10th)

Philadelphia pace: 90.6 (18th)

Score: Tie 95-95


Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson will dress for the game, according to Dana Gauruder of the Oakland Press. Their play could be a big boost for the Pistons’ chances of climbing the standings

The Pistons play the 76ers twice in six days. When healthy, I still think Detroit is a better team. With Wallace and Iverson out, Philadelphia is better.

Professional Game Coverage: Detroit 98, Washington 96

Detroit News

Hamilton returns to score 31 as Pistons hold off Wizards,” by Chris McCosky

Pistons’ Allen Iverson not close to game shape,” by Chris McCosky

Detroit Free Press

Rip returns in win,” by Vince Ellis

Iverson eager to get on court, but won’t push it,” by Vince Ellis

Booth Newspapers

Richard Hamilton returns against Wizards, helps Pistons snap three-game losing streak,” by A. Sherrod Blakely

Pistons’ Allen Iverson wants to avoid medication,” by A. Sherrod Blakely

Michael Curry: ‘Tuesday at the latest’ for return of Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson,” by A. Sherrod Blakely

The Washington Post

Wizards Fall Just Short of Victory in Arenas’s Return,” by Michael Lee

Arenas Quickly Shakes Off the Rust,” by Thomas Boswell

Pistons, 98, Wizards, 96,” by Michael Lee

The Washington Times

A spoiled storybook ending for Arenas,” by Mike Jones

Arenas, Wizards come up short,” by Mike Jones

Game Preview: Detroit at Washington


Date: March 28, 2009

Time: 7:00 p.m.


Detroit: 34-37

Washington: 17-56

Probable starters







Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit -4

Over/under: 191

Score: Detroit wins 98-94

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 106.9 (20th)

Detroit defensive rating: 107.7 (13th)

Detroit pace: 86.8 (29th)

Washington offensive rating: 104.9 (26th)

Washington defensive rating: 113.5 (29th)

Washington pace: 90.7 (17th)

Score: Detroit 98-94


Richard Hamilton will be back today, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Since returning to the starting lineup, he has produced a lot. The Pistons went 6-3, and Hamiltons’ per-game numbers have been pretty outstanding.

23.7 points — more than Carmelo Anthony’s season average.

8.1 assists — more than Baron Davis’s season average.

6.4 free throw attempts — more than Richard Jefferson’s season average.

But he also had 3.6 turnovers per game in the stretch — more than Steve Nash’s season average. 

The Pistons went 1-5 while Hamilton was injured, and they should be better with him. But I’d like to see a more efficient Hamilton return, not the one who has looked like he’s trying to impersonate Allen Iverson. After all, that’s why Michael Curry changed the lineup.


Professional Game Coverage: Los Angeles Lakers 92, Detroit 77

Detroit News

Bynum sparkles during dark days,” by Chris McCosky

Injured Pistons are getting healthy at last,” by Chris McCosky

Detroit Free Press

Pistons slide to eighth in East,” by Vince Ellis

Will Rip return soon? Yes, sir!,” by Vince Ellis

Grand Rapids Press

Pistons fall to Lakers as Kobe Bryant scores 30,” by Greg Johnson

Injured Pistons could be returning this weekend,” by Greg Johnson

Los Angeles Times

Lakers end seven-year drought in Detroit,” by Mike Bresnahan

Andrew Bynum not close to return,” by Mike Bresnahan

Los Angeles Daily News

Lakers get quick tune-up in the Motor City,” by Elliot Teaford

Bynum’s role upon return depends on what Lakers need,” by Elliot Teaford

Lakers’ Jackson wanting to hit 60 on road,” by Elliot Teaford

Game Preview: Detroit vs. Los Angeles Lakers


Date: March 26, 2009

Time: 7:30 p.m.


Detroit: 34-36

Los Angeles: 56-14