AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – This was not just another game for Antonio McDyess. He was still stung by the Pistons’ loss in the NBA Finals six months ago.
The reserve forward came through with a season-high 13 rebounds and 10 points in Detroit’s 85-70 victory over San Antonio – a rematch of the title series and a game between the teams with the two best records in the league this season.
“I was a little more motivated for the win,” McDyess said after his first double-double of the season. “It was my first finals. To lose like we did, I’m going to remember it for the rest of my life.”
McDyess seemed to take the setback the hardest because he wasn’t on the team when it won the title two seasons ago.
“He was so close and it sort of slipped away,” teammate Ben Wallace said.
Detroit dominated this gritty defensive struggle. The Pistons held the Spurs to their lowest-scoring first quarter as they missed 13 of their last 14 shots. Both teams shot about 40 percent.
“You saw both teams as basically who they are – meat-and-potato teams,” Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. “Maybe this is why the game wasn’t hyped as much. This is what basketball was meant to be like – play defense, play team basketball.”
The game featuring the past two champions opened the NBA’s annual Christmas doubleheader, lacking the Shaq-Kobe hype of the Heat-Lakers matchup that followed.
“We’re very honored, but we realize it is a great responsibility to play in the JV game,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich joked before the game. “We have to do a good job to make sure the fans stay around to watch the varsity game.”
The Pistons won their seventh straight and improved to an NBA-best 22-3, their best 25-game record in franchise history. The Spurs have lost three of five, but their 21-7 mark is the league’s second best.
“We were playing a lot closer at the end of the season,” Popovich said. “They’re a little bit ahead of us.”
Detroit’s Chauncey Billups scored 20 points and Ben Wallace had 10 points and 21 rebounds, the most for him since the 2003-04 season. Rasheed Wallace scored 14 points and Richard Hamilton had 11 for the Pistons.
“We’ve had different people carry us at different times,” Saunders said. “That’s what has made this a very good team, and has made us tougher to play against.”
San Antonio’s Tony Parker scored 19 points, and Duncan had 18 points and 11 rebounds.
The Pistons made just 42 percent of their shots but held the Spurs to 40 percent shooting and outrebounded them 57-30, including 18-6 on the offensive glass.
“Every time we got within four or five, they would get an offensive rebound,” Popovich said.
Detroit led by 10 after holding the Spurs to eight points, their fewest first-quarter points in franchise history and matched their low from any quarter.
“They just outplayed us, honestly,” Duncan said. “They took the game over down the stretch.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.