Richard Hamilton’s clutch basket forces Game 7

You thought the Pistons missed the playoffs? Not at PistonPowered.

We’re honoring the 10th anniversary of the 2004 NBA championship team by examining each postseason game on the corresponding 2014 date. We’ll look back at Detroit’s performances, detail our memories of that time and provide insight from the players and coaches who were Goin’ to Work every single night.

So, stick with us this “offseason.” I have a hunch these Pistons will be playing into June.

Detroit Pistons 81 Final
Recap | Box Score
75 New Jersey Nets
Chauncey Billups, PG 38 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTSThe Pistons had a rough night in terms of ball movement and security. That starts with Billups. But he played very well otherwise, scoring efficiently, and defending Kidd without ever sending him to the line.
Richard Hamilton, SG 40 MIN | 11-24 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 24 PTSThis was the Rip Detroit needed. Hamilton was aggressive to get his own shot, he was a constant safety valve when plays broke down, and he still shot efficiently. Fewer turnovers and more trips to the stripe would have been nice, but that’s nit picking.Hamilton led the Pistons in assists, but his biggest contribution was obviously his 18-footer with 15 seconds remaining to stretch Detroit’s lead to four. At that point, the game was basically over. Hunter and Billups still had to knock down some free throws on intentional fouls, but Hamilton sealed this one up.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 18 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTSPrince made more baskets than he missed, that’s about all he did right. Richard Jefferson was 5-8 and earned 6 free throws in 18 minutes with Prince on him. He was 2-8 and got 4 free throws in 25 minutes with anyone else handling that defensive assignment.

Rasheed Wallace, PF 40 MIN | 6-11 FG | 1-3 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 4 TO | 14 PTSRasheed was a beast on defense, holding Kenyon Martin (the Pistons’ bane) to just 3-13 shooting and blocking him three times. Whenever Sheed left the court, though, Martin took full advantage, beating up defenders (mostly Okur) and shooting 4-5.

Ben Wallace, C 41 MIN | 2-11 FG | 2-6 FT | 20 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 5 TO | 6 PTSBen left a lot of points on the table with a dreadful shooting night. But he also gave the Pistons nine extra chances. So a typical Ben Wallace outing, but more so.
Corliss Williamson, PF 19 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTSWilliamson was understandably a little trigger happy after shooting better than usual (and then most of his teammates) lately. But this wasn’t a good night.

Lindsey Hunter, PG 10 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTSHunter hit a pair of huge threes, took the ball away twice (leading to five points), and took care of it himself in a game in which the Pistons seemed to be dying to give it away at every opportunity. Also, Detroit outscored New Jersey 22-16 with Hunter in the game.
Mehmet Okur, C 22 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTSAs mentioned previously, Okur struggled mightily with covering Martin. But he was an all-star for a reason. He’s a tough assignment for most anyone. Apart from that, Okur played a solid game.  
Mike James, PG 11 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTSLike Hunter, James helped the Pistons keep their turnover margin from being atrocious. He was also Detroit’s best distributor in this game, leading all players from either team in assist rate. And the Pistons outscored the Nets 24-14 with James on the floor. How much more could you ask of a backup who played just 11 minutes?  
Darvin Ham, SF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTSNothing to see here.  
Larry Brown, Head Coach
Facing elimination, the Pistons came out a little flat, getting outscored 13-2 in the first four minutes. But nobody panicked and Detroit squeaked out a tough, tight victory.

-Tim Thielke

From the frontlines

The Pistons had just lost three straight games, which seemed like a problem. They were also playing on the road, which seemed like a bigger problem. Plus, they were in an arena where they’d been routed in all four playoff games they’d played there in the last two years, which seemed like an even bigger problem. And they were facing elimination, which seemed like OH MY GOD THE SEASON IS OVER.

But rather than let the enormity of the challenge overwhelm them, the Pistons took an especially hyper-focused approach to Game 6.

“It was like do or die,” Chauncey Billups said. “We broke it down into quarters. Win this first quarter, win the second… We really broke it down to that simple.”

So, although the scoreboard says the Pistons won a close game, that wasn’t the case to them. They lost a close game, won a blowout, lost a blowout and then won a close game.

-Dan Feldman

Up next

Remember how Ben Wallace loved to flex his biceps? Games like this are why.

Wallace pulled down 20-plus boards for the second time in four games, and his defense helped push the Pistons past New Jersey and into Game 7.

Rip Hamilton’s late jumper sealed it for Detroit, but his contributions on offense and Wallace’s success defensively have really been the only constants for the Pistons.

Both the Pistons and Nets are accustomed to high-pressure games, and we’ll see who brings their A-game for Game 7 on May 20 in Detroit.

- Brady Fredericksen

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