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More Involved Rip Keys Detroit Victory

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A Daily Babble Production

When the Celtics notched the second of their three wins against the Pistons this season in late November, Rip Hamilton looked to be adapting quite poorly to playing alongside Allen Iverson rather than Chauncey Billups in the backcourt.  With Iverson at home nursing a back injury yesterday, Hamilton made the difference as the best player on the floor in the Pistons' 105-95 win over the Celtics.

In his second appearance since returning to the starting lineup on Friday, Hamilton led the Detroit offense with an increased willingness to put the ball on the floor.

This is a guy who has made a career out of his ability to move without the ball in his hands.  Hamilton and the man asked to guard him for much of Sunday afternoon (fellow UConn alum Ray Allen) are the NBA's two post-Reggie Miller poster boys for continuous motion and curling and fading off screens to set up deadly jump shots.  After the blockbuster trade that sent point guard Chauncey Billups to Denver for Allen Iverson, Hamilton struggled a bit, mostly due to the fact that Iverson and Rodney Stuckey are both attack-first guards who didn't have the vision or the reps yet to get him the ball in the right place at the right time. 

That has improved a bit with time (although the offense doesn't look as fluid as it did with Billups running the show), but the Hamilton we saw yesterday looked far more willing than in the past to create offensive opportunities with the ball in his hands.  Upon catching the ball at the top of the key or on the wings, Hamilton looked to attack the elbows and the lane off the bounce.  Once there, he combined a dangerous up-fake with some crafty bumping of the men in white shirts in order to get defenders out of position. 

Because of Hamilton's ability to hit the mid-range jumper, the Celtics' defense had to react to him inside.  In the first quarter, a poor defensive rotation left the area under the basket open.  Hamilton jump-stopped at the right elbow and snapped a pass to Antonio McDyess for an uncontested lay-up.  While the Celtics did a better job limiting the open bunnies after that, Hamilton's penetration forced the green's help defenders off the three-point line.  He dished out nine assists, and six of them came on treys.

When he wasn't busy feeding his teammates, Hamilton managed to draw plenty of contact on his forays toward the lane.  He tied a season high by earning himself 12 free throw attempts and set a season high in making 11 of those freebies.

For as much as he created off the dribble, Hamilton spent plenty of time running Celtics defenders back and forth across the floor and worked his way to a 6-for-12 day from the field.  That included the left-corner three-pointer that gave the Pistons a 103-94 lead in the final minute and effectively put the Celtics away.

When all was said and done, Hamilton accumulated 25 points and six rebounds to go with his game high nine assists, and he played the lead role in holding Ray Allen to a 2-for-10 day from the field.  Rip looked rejuvenated yesterday afternoon and proved himself the spark in the Pistons' second win in their last 10 games.

Other quick thoughts from a frustrating loss:

  • Credit Large Baby for another nice performance.  After a 1-for-5 start, Glen Davis continued to shoot with confidence and also made several well-timed cuts down the lane for lay-ups.  No complaints about the 7-for-13 shooting day.  While I wouldn't mind if he did a bit more on the defensive glass, the Infant scrambled all over the floor once more en route to nabbing four offensive boards.  
  • Given my recent complaining, I would be remiss not to note that Rajon Rondo and Leon Powe combined to shoot 9-for-9 from the foul line, and the team shot 23-for-28 (82.1 percent) overall.  This is good.
  • The Celtics did a poor job of defending the three-point line all day (Detroit shot 7-for-14), particularly in the final minutes when Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton hit back-to-back threes to ice the game.  Blech.
  • Fine job by Kendrick Perkins at the offensive end.  He still looks eager to pound the ball into the floor, but he showed off some impressive post moves keyed by his great patience in the lane during his 6-for-8 afternoon.  Didn't turn the ball over either.
  • Just as we stressed Friday, it seems silly to get too high or too low over any one Stephon Marbury performance, particularly at this early stage of his tenure.  The dish to Leon Powe to set up a three-point play was beautiful.  Everything else, less so.  Getting pick-pocketed twice in the backcourt by fellow Georgia Techie Will Bynum was disgusting.  While the effort was there at the other end, he didn't have the size to be effective defensively against Rip Hamilton and Walter Herrmann.  Just like the guy shouldn't have been named starter after Friday night's performance, he doesn't need to be laid out beneath the bus after this one.  Moving on.
  • As discussed with CB member Slick after the game, count me among those previously unaware of Walter Herrmann's tragic family history.  Good reporting by ABC sideline reporter Heather Cox.
  • I really enjoy any time Eddie House keys a Celtics run.  Good to see him go for eight points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.
  • When Doc threw in the towel with 18 seconds left and inserted Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens, Paul Pierce went to the bench for the first time.  I've got nothing to add here.  Boogah.
  • Loved watching the Celtics sprint off to a 12-0 run to start the second half and an 11-2 run to start the third quarter.  Of course, since the green lost the game, that doesn't say too much good stuff about the latter portions of each period.  Recommended reading: Nickagneta's forum thread on the matter.  Good points about a disappointing reality, Nick.  Here's to this sort of issue not recurring.