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Monday, April 24, 2006

4/23/2006 - Pistons 92-74 Milwaukee - Pistons Lead 1-0

Having secured the top record in the league, the last week of Pistons basketball was bizarre lighthearted fun except for the bits where Lindsey Hunter shot a lot. Free to play glorified preseason games, they did, and the games had all the entertainment value of any hopeful, future-looking enterprise. It was fun to see Jason Maxiell attempt to dunk it every time he got inside the three-point line. It was fun to see that Delfino guy. It was novel to watch the Pistons lose by a ton.

However, the Happy Fun NBA Games were a cause for some consternation: what if they're off because of this diversion? 1000 words on that:

They didn't have a good headshot, but the important portion of the picture extends from Ben Wallace's headband up: 'fro. Much like Michigan hockey's propensity for breaking out the super-cool maize jerseys when a statement needs to be made*, the Ben Wallace 'fro is a talismanic declaration that someone's ass is going to get kicked. During the year the 'fro was stowed away, though, as the Pistons went about their asskicking in a methodical, somewhat bored fashion. There was no need to get the emotional amperage up. But the playoffs are another matter.

And lo, it was good despite an alarming Bucks push that had Mental Rewrite showing up and revising this column-thing. That just shows fans are less smooth than the team is. After the Bucks came clawing back from 18 down to 4, you could feel the Palace tighten up... until the Pistons scored close to a dozen consectutive points and the 'fro was once again poised, ready to crush Michael Redd's neck with sheer force of awesome.

Ben finished with a quintessential Ben line: 4 points, 17 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals. The Pistons won by 18 despite long stretches where they played like poop. It, as they say, is on.

*(usually this statement is something other than "we are not a good hockey team despite wearing the super-cool maize jerseys," but this year was not a kind one.)

Assorted observations:
  • I think I can trace my complete 180 on Brent Musberger back to his open container citation in Nebraska, as the next week Musberger actually brought it up on national television in order to make fun of himself. In one moment Musberger went from the overbearing guy who gave the world "holy Buckeye" to a dude who slams beer in his car and isn't afraid to let you know it.

    The point? At some point during the Clippers-Nuggets game, Musberger brought up this quote from George Karl:
    "A win in the playoffs is better than sex... I'm old."
    Brent's response:
    I know a lot of guys in the NBA are like "what are you talking about?"
    ...and I got a little teary from laughing so much.
  • Jeff Van Gundy did the color for the Pistons game and was greatly illuminating, pointing out fast breaks off easy misses, point guard penetration leading to further Pistons transition opportunities, and etc. etc. etc. No doubt that's why he still has a job despite piloting Houston to a lot of lottery balls this year. Van Gundy stands in stunning contrast to coaches-turned-color Doug Collins and John Thompson, who are two of the most frustrating guys to listen to in the league because they should be able to give us more than bland platitudes but choose not to.
  • The guy sitting next to Walton? Worse than Walton. I don't know where they exhumed this guy, but he's just terrible. He tried to justify Udonis Haslem throwing his mouthpiece at the ref (which subsequently got Haslem ejected). I'm flabbergasted that TNT's top team is the sublime Alberts-Kerr combo and ABC makes do with two functionally retarded men and Mike Tirico, who's okay but severely lacking gravitas.
  • Words cannot describe how delighted I am that Antoine Walker is on the Heat. I look forward to a conference finals series full of Antoine sucking like few sucks have ever sucked before. He's trying hard on defense now, but against Rasheed Wallace? He gon' die. What was (were? Accursed confusing team name!) the Heat thinking?
  • Andres Nocioni is a bitch, but he can play. The exact opposite of Walker.