The Pistons couldn’t pull away from the Grizzlies, last place in the Southwest Division, until late in the fourth quarter.
But today’s game couldn’t have gone any better for Detroit.
Most importantly, the Pistons won their first game in six tries. Losing brings problems to the forefront, and it was important to end the skid.
But the win had second huge positive. The way Detroit won gives Piston coach Michael Curry the perfect opportunity to ditch starting the small ball lineup.
Allen Iverson went 5-of-6 for 12 points while playing the entire first quarter.
Richard Hamilton went 6-of-6 for 12 points and two assists while playing 10 minutes in the second quarter. Maybe playing the first six minutes of the game helped him get loose, but he sure lit it up when he came of the bench to start the second quarter. If he doesn’t need those first few minutes to warm up (he took just one shot in that span tonight), I might change my mind and think Hamilton, not Iverson, should come off the bench.
When not forced to defer to the other, Iverson and Hamilton both had excellent games.
Iverson made most of his shots for the first time since Dec. 26 against Oklahoma City.
Hamilton finished 7-of-12 for 14 points. He also had six assists, his most since Nov. 23 against Minnesota. He was a great leader for the second unit, which TNT’s David Aldridge pointed out to him at halftime. Hamilton told him he’d be happy coming off the bench if necessary to win a title.
Iverson and Hamilton’s stellar play also allowed Rodney Stuckey to pick his spots. Stuckey didn’t have to control the offense as much as previous games. Stuckey went 7-of-12 for 14 points and had four assists and no turnovers.
The negative side effects of small ball still showed up, too.
Memphis, a poor rebounding team, beat the Pistons on the glass. Hakim Warrick came off the bench to score 12 points on Prince at power forward. And Rudy Gay scored 15 points on Hamilton at power forward.
Besides 40 seconds at the end of the game when the Grizzlies were obviously in foul mode, Stuckey, Iverson, Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince didn’t play together after the beginning of each half. This was the third straight game the quartet saw minutes just to begin halves.
So Curry is obviously coming closer to changing Detroit’s starting lineup. Will he finally get the guts to pull the trigger?
- The balanced Pistons are starting to adjust to Iverson. He took 18 shots, and every other starter had 12.
- Detroit had nice games from a pair of bigs off the bench. Antonio McDyess made all three of his shots, scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds. Jason Maxiell went 2-of-3 for seven points and had five rebounds.
- The Pistons ended the game on a 10-2 run. The Pistons made all six of their free throws down the stretch after making just 8-of-16 from the line earlier in the game. Detroit is 28th in the league with a .741 free-throw percentage.
- O.J. Mayo is going to be a star once he develops better shot selection. Mayo has all the physical tools, and he has a high basketball I.Q. for a rookie.