The Pistons needed a scorer last night.
Arron Afflalo’s career-high 24 points led the team. Arron Afflalo.
But the Pistons took the Rockets to double overtime before falling, 106-101. And they lost to the Mavericks by just two the night before. With Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson out for both games, close losses are sort of encouraging.
The Rockets’ field-goal percentage last night was 11.6 points higher than Detroit’s. The Mavericks out-shot the Pistons by 12.4 percentage points.
Besides those two games, the Pistons’ opponent’s field-goal percentage has been at least at least eight points higher than Detroit’s seven times. The Pistons are 0-7 in those games, and the average score is 101-83. So, these last two cases are way better than the norm for a huge shooting differential.
The Pistons did the little things needed to win. Turnovers were down in both games. And their 21 offensive rebounds tonight were huge.
But those are only blocks to build on once the talent return.
It’s obvious the Pistons need Wallace back. Yao Ming torched Kwame Brown for 31 points and 15 rebounds. And Wallace would’ve stretched Yao enough to lower his four blocks. It was telling the Pistons turned to Antonio McDyess to guard Yao in key situations. Detroit just doesn’t have enough depth at center to be without Wallace.
But there’s obviously not enough room for Hamilton and Iverson to play big minutes with Detroit. And today’s game adds to the evidence Hamilton should get them (if a 23-28 record with Iverson didn’t prove it already).
The Pistons played the half-court game Hamilton thrives in, they type Iverson has been stifled in all season. And they took it to the extreme — the pace last night (76.3) was ridiculously low.
The TrailBlazers, last in the league in pace, are closer to the pace of Golden State, fastest in the league, than they are to last night’s game’s pace.
The last two game are encouraging for the Pistons. Once Hamilton is healthy, the pieces seem to be coming together around him. Coupled with news that Iverson’s tests have been pushed back, the direction of this team is even clearer.
Hamilton is steering the ship, and Iverson might be sunk.
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