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Archive → January, 2009

Professional Game Coverage: Boston 86, Detroit 78

Game Review: Boston 86, Detroit 78

The Pistons fought, clawed and scrapped.

But they still lost because the Celtics did all those things, too.

Detroit’s defense held Boston to 86 points, the fewest the Celtics have scored during their league-best 10-game winning streak.

The Pistons turned the ball over just 9 times, the second-fewest Boston’s defense has forced all season.

And Detroit came within eight of Boston, the closest any team has played the Celtics in two-and-a-half weeks.

But Boston leaves the Palace with its league-high 39th win, and the Pistons go home losers in eight of their last 11.

As much as Detroit challenged the Celtics, Boston never trailed.

When Kendrick Perkins head-locked Jason Maxiell and threw him to ground in the fourth quarter, I thought back to the Eastern Conference finals between the Pistons and Cavaliers two years ago.

Cleveland was on a 16-3 run in game six, and Rasheed Wallace picked up two personal fouls and two technicals in 15 seconds. The Cavaliers were pushing Detroit around, and there was nothing the prideful Wallace could do about it. So he lost his cool. And the Pistons eventually lost.

Back to tonight. The Celtics, which had won their last nine by 16.6 per game, had just allowed Maxiell to score Detroit’s last five points on layups and a free throw. So Perkins lost his cool. And Boston eventually won.

The Celtics have the pride and the ability to back it up.

The Pistons have the pride, but they don’t have the muscle to contend anymore.

They got up for this game, but that’s the anomaly lately. With Cleveland and Miami, the other two teams to beat Detroit in the conference finals in the last three seasons, coming to the Palace in the next few days, the Pistons should be ready to go for those games, too.

But they might not even have the tools to do that. Just the pride, and that’s obviously not enough anymore.

  • Wallace (12 points and six rebounds) failed to put together his third straight quality game. He’s aging quickly. If he comes back on a one-year contract next year, he might still start. But he’s running out juice quickly.
  • The Celtics’ bench outscored Detroit’s by an average of 42.5-26 in the teams’ other two matchups this season. But even though the Pistons played just three reserves (Richard Hamilton, Antonio McDyess and Maxiell), they outscored Boston’s bench players, 22-13.
  • Rodney Stuckey had an up-and-down game against Rojon Rondo, the NBA’s best defensive point guard. Stuckey made 7-of-11 shots for 19 points. He also had four assists and two turnovers in 37 minutes. Rondo, defended by Stuckey, dictated the pace on offense, dishing out 12 assists.
  • Tayshaun Prince, who shot 1-of-7, was a complete non-factor offensively. McDyess (1-0f-8) didn’t do much, either. But both were solid otherwise. Prince had three steals and a block, and McDyess had 14 rebounds and a block. Still, both need to carry more of the scoring load for Detroit to succeed.
  • McDyess started the second half in place of Amir Johnson and played 15 minutes before heading to the bech. Boston outscored Detroit 23-19 in that span. I doubt this is a precursor to moving McDyess into the starting lineup, and I’d be mildly surprised to see McDyess start second halves on a regular basis.
  • After the Celtics outscored Detroit  28-19 and 30-10 in the second quarter their two last matchups, the Pistons won the second quarter tonight. Behind eight points from Stuckey and six a piece from Allen Iverson and Hamilton, the Pistons outscored Boston 25-20 in the quarter.

Live Blog: Detroit vs. Boston

Game Preview: Detroit vs. Boston

Date: Jan. 30, 2009

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Detroit record: 25-19

Boston record: 38-9

Detroit probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Allen
Iverson
Tayshaun
Prince
Amir
Johnson
Rasheed
Wallace

Boston probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Rajon
Rondo
Ray
Allen
Paul
Pierce
Kevin
Garnett
Kendrick
Perkins

Spread: Detroit +5.5

Outlook: Tonight’s game with the Celtics kicks off a big weekend for the Pistons, who host Cleveland on Sunday.

Detroit is coming off an impressive win over Minnesota. But for perspective, the Pistons are at the point a win over a 16-28 team can be considered impressive.

Rasheed Wallace has put together back-to-back impressive games for the first time since mid-November. For Detroit to have a chance against the NBA’s top team, he’ll have to make it a third. Wallace, matched up with Kendrick Perkins, is the only Piston starter to have an apparent advantage on his Boston counterpart.

Detroit’s bench might be the other way the Pistons can hang with the Celtics.

Tonight’s game will also be a big test for Rodney Stuckey. Stuckey’s maturation will be measured as he goes against Rojon Rondo, the league’s top defensive point guard.

Richard Hamilton is questionable, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of the Booth Newspapers. That should delight Ray Allen, according to the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy.

Ah, yes, the sleeve. Allen started wearing it when he was in a horrific slump during the Detroit series last spring. He wears the sleeve on just his left arm – sort of like Michael Jackson without the creepiness. “Rip Hamilton grew his fingernails long and he was scratching me,” explained Allen. “I needed the sleeve to shield me from those nails. And I’ve stayed with it.”

  • Tonight’s game will be available on ESPN360. Unfortunately, the service is unavailable to those with Comcast or Time Warner.

Professional Game Coverage: Detroit 98, Minnesota 89

Game Preview: Detroit at Minnesota

Date: Jan. 25, 2009

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Detroit record: 24-19

Minnesota record: 16-27

Detroit probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Allen
Iverson
Tayshaun
Prince
Amir
Johnson
Rasheed
Wallace

Minnesota probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Sebastian
Telfair
Randy
Foye
Ryan
Gomes
Craig
Smith
Al
Jefferson

Spread: Detroit -1

Outlook: The Timberwolves started the season 2-9. Then they crushed the Pistons 106-80 in November. Here’s what Minnesota power forward Al Jefferson told The Star-Tribune:

“After that game, I knew we could do it,” he said. “I was just surprised, really surprised that it didn’t happen sooner. We beat a team like Detroit like that on their home floor and then we come back and play like we never played this game before in our life.”

The win didn’t quite turn their season around, as two games later, they began a 13-game losing streak. But Minnesota has since found its way. The red-hot Timberwolves have the NBA’s best record in 2009 (10-2).

The Pistons, on the other hand, have lost seven of nine. Tonight’s game offers a chance for them to avenge their largest-ever loss to Minnesota, so maybe that will wake them up.

If Detroit is going to win, it will have shore up its interior defense, which has been pretty weak lately. Jefferson is having an All-Star season (22.6 points and 10.2 rebounds), and Amir Johnson needs to slow, not necessarily stop, him.

The Timberwolves’ resurgence has also been due to several players performing slightly better than they had earlier in the season.

Rookie center Kevin Love is a rebounding monster. Randy Foye has played much better since moving to shooting guard from point guard. And Sebastian Telfair has proven to be a capable point guard.

Detroit has to find to take away a couple of Minnesota’s weapons and make just one or two Timberwolves try to beat the Pistons.

There will not be a live blog for tonight’s game.

Stuckey to play in Rookie Challenge

Pistons point guard Rodney Stuckey will play on the sophomore team in the Rookie Challenge during NBA All-Star weekend.

No Pistons in 170 club

In today’s Daily Dime, Tim Legler discusses the best jump shooters in the NBA. The first names he mentions are Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, Toronto guard Jason Kapono, Utah guard Kyle Korver and Laker forward Vladimir Radmonovic.

Detroit guard Richard Hamilton, New Orleans forward Peja Stojakavic, Phoenix guard Steven Nash, Boston guard Ray Allen and Portland guard Rudy Fernandez also drew mentions from Legler.

Lelger explains a statistical achievement called the 170 club. To be a member, you must shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent on 3-pointers and 80 percent on free throws. 

“That is the biggest hallmark of what a truly great shooter is. Not only is he a great 3-point shooter but he takes good enough shots from other spots on the floor that he’s over 50 percent overall. There are only a few guys each year that can finish the year in the 170 club. It’s a good measuring stick to see what guys have a lot of versatility as a shooter.”

Unsurprisingly, no Piston is on pace to make the cut this year.

[TABLE=13]

In case you’re wondering, Chauncey Billups doesn’t qualify, either. His percentages add up to 172, but his field-goal percentage (41.8) and 3-point percentage (39.3) are short of the necessary marks.

The last Detroit player to technically earn inclusion in the club was Scott Hastings in 1990-91. In 23 games, he shot 57.1 percent from the field (16-of-28), 75 percent from behind the arc (3-of-4) and 100 percent from the free-throw line (13-of-13).

The last Piston to make a legitimate claim to the club was Joe Dumars in 1989. He made 50.5 percent from the field, 48.3 percent on 3-pointers and 85 percent on free throws for a total of 183.8.

Just five players in the league technically belong in the club so far this year.

[TABLE=14]

Cleveland center Zydrunas Ilgauskas has made 8-of-16 3-pointers, and Phoenix power forward Amar’e Stoudemire is 3-0f-7 from downtown. 

  • In addition to Forum Blue & Gold, if you’re interested in Lakers coverage, I recommend We Framed Roger Rabbit. The site is run by Doc B, who I wrote with at The Michigan Daily. He definitely knows his basketball and will touch on the rest of league at times, so be sure to check it out.

Pistons History: Rocky Mountain High

This is the first post in a new feature on Piston Powered. These posts will detail an interesting moment in Pistons history. Sometimes they will be relevant to current events. But often, as is the case here, they won’t be.

Before the Pistons and Nuggets squared off on Dec. 13, 1983, Detroit coach Chuck Daly told Denver coach Doug Moe “First one to 140 wins,” according to the Denver Post.

Daly had good reason to believe the game would be a shootout. Both teams ranked near the bottom of the league in defensive stats. But Daly would couldn’t have guess how high-scoring the game would be.

186-184!

That was the banner headline in the Denver Post the day after the Pistons’ won, in triple overtime, what’s still the NBA’s highest-scoring game.

The Pistons and Nuggets set six records in the game.

  • Most points by a team: Detroit’s 186
  • Most combined points : 370 – Detroit’s 186 and Denver’s 184
  • Most field goals by a team: Detroit’s 74
  • Most field goals combined: 142 – Detroit’s 74 and Denver’s 68
  • Most assists: 93 – Detroit’s 47 and Denver’s 46
  • Most players with 40 points: four – Detroit’s Isiah Thomas (47) and John Long (41) and Denver’s Kiki  Vandeweghe (51) and Alex English (47)

And the teams combined to take just four 3-pointers (two made). Maybe Larry Brown was right.

The day after the game, a Denver Post columnist named Woodrow Paige Jr. joked the NBA should fine Moe again for a lack of defense. A few weeks earlier, Moe told his Nuggets not to guard the Trail Blazers in the last minute of a clear loss. Portland made five layups in that final minute en route to 156 points, and the league fined Moe. More Paige humor:

“The Nuggets have been known to give away hamburger coupons in the past if the club scored a certain number of points. As a result of Tuesday night’s score, they should give away entire cows.”

The Boston Globe ran an editorial saying the Celtics, who previously held the scoring record, still had a rightful claim to the record. Boston scored 173 against the Minneapolis Lakers in regulation in 1959.

“The men in green did it the right way – in the time allotted for a regular league game – and until another team reaches 174 points in 48 minutes, the record is theirs alone, no ifs, ands, buts or asterisks.”

The Celtics didn’t hold onto the record, but the Pistons and Nuggets took some punishment from the three-hour and 11-minute game. Detroit forward Kelly Tripucka told The Miami Herald:

“Both teams deserve a week off.”

And their schedules nearly provided it. The Pistons had three days off before losing to Boston, and Denver lost to Portland three days later.

The Pistons finished the season 49-33 and lost in the first round to the Knicks. Denver (38-44) didn’t make the playoffs.

Images of the official box scores are available via pistons.com.

 

Pistons are sliding

Marc Stein’s weekly power rankings came out today, and Detroit ranks 18th. If the playoffs started today, the Pistons would be a five seed, but they’re the eighth Eastern Conference team in the power rankings.

It’s tough to argue with Detroit’s position. The Pistons’ record benefited from a 4-0 start with Chauncey Billups, but they’ve played very poorly lately.

The Bulls, losers of five in a row, were the only other team significantly lower in the rankings than their record would suggest.

Here’s a chart to showcase how out of line Detroit’s winning percentage is with its power rankings. Teams are in order of their position in the power rankings, from left to right.

Curry’s problem: The Detroit News’s Chris McCosky says Piston coach Michael Curry’s biggest weakness is overcoaching.

From what I could gather, he was trying to have his team guard pick-and-rolls one way on the strong side of the floor and a different way on the weak side. No wonder the players looked dazed and confused out there. I mean, when you can make intelligent, high basketball-IQ players like Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace look like they don’t know where they’re supposed to be on the court, you are doing something wrong.