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Sunday, May 28, 2006

"If It Ain't Rough, It Ain't Right": The Saga Continues

The Detroit Pistons' motto the past few seasons has been "If it ain't rough, it ain't right." In Saturday night's 98-83 game three loss to the Miami Heat, Detroit's play was a lot more "rough" than "right." The Pistons now must win on Monday night to avoid going down 3-1 in the series, a situation that is usually death in the NBA playoffs.

Detroit's trademark defense was missing in action--Miami shot a sizzling .582 from the field--and, other than Chauncey Billups (31 points on 11-17 field goal shooting) and Rip Hamilton (20 points but only 6-15 accuracy from the field), most of the Pistons were AWOL on offense as well. Tayshaun Prince, who has been the Pistons' most consistent player this postseason, scored the team's first three points but did not score for the rest of the game. Ben Wallace did not make a field goal and shot only 2-10 on free throws. Detroit did go on an 11-0 run to start the fourth quarter, cutting Miami's lead to 72-71, but Miami scored the next five points and Detroit never took the lead.

Dwyane Wade had 35 points on 13-17 field goal shooting, with eight rebounds and four assists. Shaquille O'Neal shot 7-10 from the field in the first half, scoring 15 points. He finished the game with 27 points on 11-15 shooting, adding 12 rebounds. O'Neal had no assists or blocked shots but six of his rebounds were on the offensive glass.

Heat Coach Pat Riley again resorted to the "Hack-a-Ben" strategy--and it paid off. Miami led 85-77 with 3:31 left in the game when James Posey intentionally fouled Wallace away from the ball. Wallace missed both free throws and Miami scored on the next possession. The Heat then fouled Wallace again and he made one of two, after which Miami missed a shot, got an offensive rebound and made two free throws, giving the Heat an 11 point lead with 2:27 remaining. Detroit removed Wallace from the game at the next stoppage of play, perhaps to save further embarrassment.

The past 32 times that series have been tied 1-1, the game three winner has taken the series 24 times--but Detroit has come back from 2-1 deficits three times since 2003. That's why the Pistons say, "If it ain't rough, it ain't right."

posted by David Friedman @ 12:26 AM


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