As everybody writes the Pistons off once again this season, the reason I continue to strongly support this team is because I know this team has strong leadership. Sure sometimes their heads get a little big, but when the going gets rough they always come back down to earth and take control.
Billups and Sheed are vocal leaders.
Hamilton and Tay lead by action.
Sure the team is only at .500 right now, but it is obvious in my opinion after the last two games that the team is getting back to its roots.
Pistons finding their fight
After two embarrassing losses, Hamilton leads as Detroit reclaims intensity and improves to .500.
Chris McCosky / The Detroit News
AUBURN HILLS -- For some, a gentle nudging will do the trick -- "Time to wake up." For others, it takes a push or maybe a little slap in the face.
For the Pistons, it took a kick in the head -- embarrassing losses at Golden State and to the Hornets at home -- to finally wake up and smell the coffee.
"I think when you win so much, you forget what got you there," said Richard Hamilton, after the Pistons beat Houston 104-92 on Saturday, which was their second straight victory and leveled their record at .500 (5-5). "Our biggest thing, no matter who is on the floor, we've got to play hard. Sometimes you can be out there feeling (good about) yourself a little too much and you forget that it was the grinding and getting to loose balls and helping each other out on defense that got you a world championship."
Slowly but surely, the Pistons are getting their grind back. Hamilton's aggression has played a big part in the turnaround. He has scored 57 total points in back-to-back games, including 30 on a tidy 11-for-18 shooting against the Rockets. He's scored 17 points in the first quarters of those two victories, helping to set an aggressive tone.
"Me and Rip had a talk about four games ago," said Chauncey Billups, who has contributed 35 points and 19 assists the past two games. "Early in the game, he really has to be aggressive. So many times we were starting the games slow and me and him were both taking a seat back. Rip's our most aggressive player and I just told him, 'Early in games, you've got to go. You have to shoot the ball, get to the basket and attack. That way we aren't starting games down 14-6 or 12-3.' He's really been setting the tone for us."
Hamilton also did his part on the defensive end, holding Tracy McGrady to seven points and just seven shots in the second half.
"I don't think you can defend him any better than that," coach Flip Saunders said.
Hamilton, besides the 30 points, also produced eight assists and seven rebounds, with just two turnovers. It was about as complete a performance as you could want and it brought life to the Pistons' small-ball lineup.
Saunders, with Nazr Mohammed, Dale Davis and Antonio McDyess all with four fouls trying to defend 7-5 Yao Ming, deployed Rasheed Wallace at center, with Tayshaun Prince and guards Billups, Hamilton and Flip Murray down the stretch.
That lineup, with Wallace doing yeoman's work on Yao, held the Rockets scoreless for nearly six minutes and allowed the Pistons to go on a 13-0 run.
Murray, who has struggled early, scored six points and had a steal in the run. Wallace, who contributed 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, made four direct stops on Yao and helped force two turnovers. And all the while Hamilton was badgering McGrady.
It was a vintage lock-down defensive effort by the Pistons.
"It's just all effort," Billups said. "We've got good defenders. But it's been a huge transition without Ben (Wallace). He made up for so many of our mistakes and now we don't have that luxury. We have to hold each other accountable."
The team will definately finish better than .500. I would really like them to finish in first but I think Cleveland is going to give them a run for their money. If you look at the standings right now for all the divisions I think they will end up pretty close to that at the end of the year.
Pistons only a game back of Cleveland right now too.
I'm happy with the way they're playing right now, especially Sheed, this is the best he has looked since joining the team. He is among the league leaders in Blocks and Rebounds, and seems to be relishing the role of defensive stopper and post scorer more than ever.