Do you see the foul? I watched the play unfold live and I've seen the replay from a couple of angles and I'm still not sure when or where Rip Hamilton touched Larry Hughes. Nevertheless, Hughes got the call, sending him to the line for three free throws, which tied the game and ultimately sent it into overtime. The Knicks eventually won 116-111.
After the game, Hughes was asked where Hamilton made contact, and from his description you'd think he was mauled. "Across the arms, across the legs," he said. "He contested pretty tough, so, I kind of leaned in a little bit and got even more contact."
If there was any contact at all, it seemed to come after the shot when Hughes kicked out his leg. Hamilton made that argument to the ref during the game, and Hughes didn't exactly deny it after. "Well, hey, he pushes off, so ..." he said while laughing. "It's part of the game."
Despite admitting to some theatrics, Hughes seemed offended when I asked him if he was surprised to get that call at that point in the game. "No, when it was that obvious when it was a foul. You can always debate if it's a foul or not, but when you draw contact, especially at that moment when we needed three points -- they say never foul a jump-shooter, and [when] you contest like that, you got to get the benefit of the doubt."
They also say "the most aggressive team gets the whistles," and the Pistons were the most aggressive team for most of the night. They won the rebounding battle by 25, shot better from the field (46.9% to 43.4%) and, with the exception of Hughes' gift-wrapped free throws, received nearly identical treatment from the refs -- both teams were whistled 22 personal fouls. All things considered, this was a strange game for the Pistons to lose.
So what happened? Fluke calls aside, Detroit's conservative offense simply couldn't keep up with the Knicks. Mike D'Antoni's system is more than fast breaks -- it's also taking a lot of three-pointers. The Knicks shot 10-for-32 from three-point range; the Pistons, meanwhile, shot 1-for-9.
That's a difference of 27 points, which is extremely difficult to make up when you're getting equal treatment from the refs and are shooting good-not-great from two-point land. As much as Detroit fans complain about Rasheed Wallace taking too many three-pointers, the Pistons missed his presence (he was sidelined with a sore calf) beyond the arc on Wednesday.