Posted by Matt Moore
Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.
THE BIG ONE: Detroit wings it to victory
You know? If the Pistons can get past their coach screwing with their rotations, their chemistry, and their play, and somehow manage to rely on the talent they have on this roster? This team ain't bad. Austin Daye was the real hero here, and the youngster is proving that he's a big part of the Pistions' future. 20 points on 5-9 shooting, including 4-4 from the arc and 7 rebounds for Daye. Tayshaun Prince started at small forward, and added 20 points of his own, along with 6 assists, and Tracy McGrady had 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. That's right. The Pistons got 60 points from three small forwards in this game. Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson, and Quentin Richardson combined for 15 points. When you lose a position battle by 45? Dwight Howard's 7 offensive boards aren't going to help much.
The Magic had five players out of their nine-man rotation with at least two turnovers, while the Pistons had just two out of their ten-man. Throw in some hot shooting from outside and the Pistons brought the Heat. Big win for the Pistons who continue to have one of the oddest seasons in memory. And guess what?
At 17-28, they're a game and a half back of the playoffs. Weird.
THE N'ORLEANS HOMEFRONT: Victory through swarm
Trevor Ariza got busy. Ariza swarmed Kevin Durant down the stretch and it was one terrible shot after another, only this time he wasn't hitting any miracles. The Hornets threw multiple waves of pressure to keep the ball out of Russell Westbrook's hand after he had torched the Hornets time after time in this game, and in the end, it was David West's off-balance pivot jumper that won it for New Orleans.
The Hornets at once seemed completely out-manned in this one and certifiably in control. Basically, whenever David West, Emeka Okafor, or Chris Paul got involved, they looked like the better squad, and when anyone else got involved it was not so much the case. Marcus Thornton was nice, if you think 10 points on 12 shots is nice, but in reality, none of the Hornets outside the Big 3 mattered much. What was relevant was a long stretch in the second and third quarter when Scott Brooks gave Eric Maynor the reins and watched as Chris Paul sliced him into roast beef. Maynor was simply not in a position to defend the MVP candidate, and it showed.
A key play down the stretch saw Chris Paul steal the inbounds with the game tied, then come crashing down to the floor holding his ankle. Paul would walk it off, though. David West continues his reliable play and you have to think he and Okafor will determine how far this team goes in the playoffs. Okafor was at times brilliant, and at times extremely vulnerable as the Thunder crashed the glass time after time. The Thunder held an 8% advantage in percentage of available offensive boards collected.
Jeff Green had 19 points and wreaked havoc on the Hornets but had no shots in the final 3:16.
GO-GO-GADGET LINE OF THE NIGHT:
Kevin Love: 24 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists
Runner-Up: Tyreke Evans: 26 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists