Updated: March 23, 2006, 2:42 AM ET

Shaq strong, but Pistons win

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The latest clash of the Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat was a tale of two games, first half and second half.

In the end, the final story was how the Pistons rallied for an 82-73 victory Wednesday night.

Miami couldn't capitalize on one of Shaquille O'Neal's strongest performances of the entire season, scoring 27 points while playing his most minutes in a single game this season, 43.

Detroit's Tayshaun Prince was the key performer in this matchup. His anticipation in the passing lanes was good, and his length gave him unique capabilities. He's the key player as far as separation goes when you watch these teams going head to head.

It was a difficult night for Miami's Dwyane Wade, who had a badly sprained right wrist from the game Tuesday against the Timberwolves. Wade had a horrendous night shooting, 3-for-15 from the field. He took eight free throws, but in a big game, you need to get him going from the line. He did have nine assists, but his five turnovers certainly hurt.

This was Shaq's night. Dwyane is normally the big fourth-quarter performer for Pat Riley and the Heat, but he was not up to the task tonight. Fatigiue? Yes. Injury? Yes.

Miami has only itself to blame. The calf injury to Alonzo Mourning, the inability to sustain its effort, and the lack of getting the ball to Shaq did them in. Other than Shaq, the team's fourth-quarter shooting was 2-for-17.

Give the ball to Shaq.

In the first half, Detroit's Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton -- they couldn't do anything right, and the team was held to a season-low 35 points in the first half. But the second half though was a completely different story.

When it was all on the line, a huge run for Detroit keyed by a couple of guys, Prince and Antonio McDyess, who scored ten points between them in a run that gave Detroit a 72-66 lead with 4:49 to go.

Now we look forward to the April 6 meeting in Miami. This game gives a push to the Detroit Pistons, who can't be happy. Chauncey Billups told us after the game that he was not pleased how they played. They've got to sharpen it up. McDyess was decent. They need more from the bench guards, Lindsey Hunter, Maurice Evans, Tony Delk.

For Miami, nothing in the standings, but they showed that for two quarters that with Shaq rolling and everything going right, they certainly have the chance to come in here and unseat what will be the regular season top team in the East, the Detroit Pistons.

Talk back to the Daily Dime gang

Dimes Past: March 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18-19 | 20 | 21 | 22

Goodbye For Now ...
Allen Einstein/Getty Images
Shaquille O'Neal and Rip Hamilton share a postgame word. The Heat and Pistons have one more regular season meeting, April 6.

A Good Rate

Some people see the word "overrated" and think it means I'm saying all these players stink. Nothing could be further from the truth. A lot of the players on this list actually are pretty good -- in fact two of them are legitimately great -- but that doesn't change the fact they are perceived, by most, to be better players than they really are.

For a good example, think of Kobe Bryant a few years ago. He was awesome, one of the two vital cogs on a three-time champion team. At the same time, a lot of people were comparing him to Michael Jordan, and that was patently absurd. So even though he was a great player, he was clearly overrated. In Bryant's case, that has now shifted. He's playing better than he ever has, and the hype machine has died down a little, so he's no longer an All-Overrated candidate. But I use his example to illustrate a point: Great players still can be overrated.

In fact, guys can be overrated or underrated at different points in their career. Christian Laettner, for instance, was wildly overrated coming out of college, but was probably underrated toward the end of his career. Latrell Sprewell, on the other hand, was underrated as a Warrior (before that whole P.J. thing, anyway) but overrated as a Knick.

See the full John Hollinger story Insider

News And Notes

• Indiana forward Jeff Foster had double-digit rebounds for seven straight games before pulling down nine against Memphis on Tuesday night. He started a new streak by grabbing 14 on Wednesday. Chicago's Ben Gordon has struggled lately, reaching double figures in just two of his last six games. He entered the game averaging 16.4 points. Indiana's David Harrison started for the first time since playing at Cleveland on Jan. 24. ... Jamaal Tinsley returned for the Pacers after missing Tuesday's game at Memphis with a sinus infection. He has missed 34 of Indiana's 66 games with injury or illness this season.

• Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks had a snappy comeback when asked if the injury was going to make him watch Iverson's minutes. "I'm going to watch all 48 of them," he said, laughing. Iverson played 42. ... Sixers C Samuel Dalembert is upset he's been demoted in favor of Steven Hunter. "I wish they would tell me one specific thing I need to get done and, trust me, I would be focused on that one thing and would make sure I would get it done," Dalembert said.

• The Pistons became the only NBA team since 1980 to start the same lineup -- Prince, Billups, Hamilton, Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace -- in the first 67 games of a season. The 2002-03 Golden State Warriors started the same lineup in their first 66 games. ... The Pistons have not lost a regular-season home game in regulation since March 28, 2005, against Dallas. Miami's 73 points were a season low.

-- The Associated Press

Motion: Cooling The Heat

Shaq was up for this one. But then 'Zo went down. And Detroit finds it rhythm in the second half, beating its biggest Eastern challenger.

Pistons Take Control

Cleveland Jubilation

AP Photo/Mark Duncan
Cleveland 's Flip Murray postures after hitting a three-point shot with 0.4 seconds left in regulation. Sparked by LeBron James' OT winning shot, the Cavaliers topped the Bobcats, 120-118.

Extreme Behavior

Wednesday's Best
Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets forward: The clutch shooter had 12 of his 32 points in the fourth, helping lift the Nuggets over the defending champs, 104-92. The Cambyman had 21 boards, too. Denver's 39-30 mark not looking too shabby.


Wednesday's Worst
T.J. Ford, Bucks guard Misses all but one of his nine shots in the 114-105 loss to the Sonics. Had five turnovers. This loss won't help Bucks' bid for rising to the sixth seed.

Quote of the Day
"I don't know the exact prognosis, but it's not very good. There's a reason we didn't trade Michael Doleac, and that's because of this exact possibility. He's going to have to step up."
-- Heat coach Pat Riley, concerned that Alonzo Mourning might have torn a calf muscle in the loss to Detroit.

-- Andrew Ayres

See how all 172 who played stacked up
The current NBA Playoff matchups

Conditioning A Darko Issue

Darko Milicic is getting 20.9 minutes a night since he came to Orlando. And the reason he isn't playing more may be because, right now, he can't.

"He's not in great condition," said Magic coach Bob Hill. "He can't play sustained minutes out there at a time. He has to play them in bursts."

Is this just a result of the inactivity in Detroit? "I imagine," said Hill. "The guy hasn't played for two and a half years."

Read the full John Hollinger blog Insider

Elias Says

Kobe Bryant scored 28 points as the Lakers beat Sacramento. Bryant became only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 20 points in each of 50 consecutive games within a single season.

Wilt Chamberlain did it three times (a 56-game streak in 1959-60 and the entire 80-game season in both 1961-62 and 1963-64) and Michael Jordan did it twice (56 straight games in 1987-88 and 69 in 1990-91). The others to do it were Oscar Robertson (76 in 1963-64), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (62 in 1971-72) and Allen Iverson (57 in 2004-05).

• Elias Sports Bureau | More from Elias Insider

Not A Bright Outlook For Suns

Steve, Jessup: Hey B.J., How far came the Suns go in the playoffs if Amare Stoudemire isn't playing and how far can they go with him?

B.J. Armstrong: It will be difficult even with Amare to get far. They don't have the kind of half-court game to make a deep playoff run. They are fun and exciting but they don't have that in their arsenal. The game gets organized and they don't get to run off turnovers as much. They have weapons, but at some point the game slows down too much for them and if they are not making shots they really struggle, like last night against Utah. I just don't anticipate them grinding out wins and playing tough defense when games get tough. They win a lot of regular season games but playoff basketball is a different animal.

Read the full B.J. Armstrong chat Insider



Search Arrow