by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

The Pistons were leading Washington by, I don’t know, 30 or 35 points, and it was just the second quarter, and all of a sudden someone said, “Hey, look in the corner!” And there, standing against the wall, as the fans walked past him, was the game’s leading scorer, Adrian Dantley.

Now, it is not often that you see a player out among the fans during the game, unless he is chasing one of them, or trying to get his warm-ups back. But then, it is not often that one team is leading another team by 35 points in the second period of a playoff game. That’s what the regular season is for.

“Adrian’s back is tight,” someone explained. “He’s standing there because it relieves the pressure when he stands up.”

His back was tight. There he stood. What to do? You don’t want to interrupt a guy who is technically in the game, even though he is out in the stands. Then again, he was just standing there, against the wall, and the basketballs were going in and in and in . . .

We sent Adrian Dantley a beer.

“Was that you?” he said after the Pistons blew out Washington, 128-85, to go 2-0 in their best-of-five series. “I was wondering who sent that lady over. She just said, ‘Some guy sent you this beer.’ “

Hey. Given the circumstances, it didn’t seem out of line. Forty-three points? They won by 43 points? What do you call that? A blowout? Nah. It passed blowout in the second quarter. Rout? That was the first quarter. What the evening needed was a stand-up comic, some guy in a cheap suit saying, “How one-sided was it? It was so one-sided that . . . “

We sent him a beer.

He turned it down, by the way. Your wish come true It was about the only thing the Pistons were denied Sunday night. This was one of those games where everything within rim-range went in, where cheers for Dantley (whose back should be OK) and Thomas and Laimbeer turned to cheers for Campbell and Nevitt, where the big question was,
“How much did these tickets cost?”

With two seconds left in the half, the Pistons led by 37 points, already an NBA halftime playoff record. But, alas. It wasn’t a round number.

“Watch this,” I said. “Three-point basket, for a 40-point lead.”

“There’s only two seconds left,” someone said.

And Isiah Thomas threw in a 52-foot shot.

Anything else we can do for you?

A 52-foot shot? A 40-point lead? Are we serious? We are serious. This was no game, this was a highway accident. I’d like to say the Bullets looked weak, but that would be exaggerating. If everyone in Washington were this ineffective, we’d still be under prohibition.

“Are you guys thinking sweep now?” someone asked Dennis Rodman after the game.

“Well . . . uh . . . yeah,” he said.

Don’t fault him for honesty. Sure, it’s NBA etiquette to say the other team will come back strong, it has courage, it has pride . . .

“We don’t have a lot of pride,” Washington’s Moses Malone said after the loss.

Then again . . .

Ah, well. How’s that song go? Everybody have fun tonight. The fact was, Detroit was unbeatable this April evening. It was barbecue weather outside, and the Pistons seemed to squirt lighter fluid on the Silverdome court and whooof! — flames. They shot 70.5 percent for the first two periods. You’d better not lose those kind of games.

“Have you ever seen a playoff rout like this?” someone asked Pistons coach Chuck Daly.

“I was shocked, to be honest,” he said. “All I could think about was, what if they come back on us? How bad is that gonna look?”

He didn’t have to worry. When the game was finished, someone asked Bullets coach Kevin Loughery what he told his team at halftime.

“I don’t have a speech for 40 down,” he said. Bullets are shot So the Pistons are up two, needing one, and heading for Washington. And while this game was not a true indication of the talent difference between these two teams, it wasn’t that far off. When the Pistons are clicking, Washington cannot keep up. Once Malone was neutralized, and he has been in both games so far, the rest of this team is not life- threatening.

So have fun tonight. This was an evening where the biggest cheer was
“NEVITT! NEVITT!” Where Vinnie Johnson stood at the top of the key, turned toward Daly and yelled, “You want anything special?” Where you could send Adrian Dantley a beer in the middle of the second quarter and not have it considered bad manners.

“How one-sided was it?” the comic asks. So one-sided that, with 7:50 to go, Isiah Thomas’ mother left. She waved goodby; he waved back.

You can do the same to Washington.

This thing is over.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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