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Archive → January, 2009

Professional Game Coverage: Houston 108, Detroit 105

 

Game Review: Houston 108, Detroit 105

Since when are these positives signs for the Pistons?

  • An actual effort to fight back after falling behind.
  • A starter on the bench in crunch time enthusiastically cheering on his teammates.
  • A competent offense.

How expectations have fallen.

Detroit is 5-8 in January, and with today’s loss, the Pistons have guaranteed their first losing month since Feb. 2004. 

But these aren’t the Pistons of 2004 or 2005. So in the context of the season, I’m actually optimistic about Detroit’s performance today.

The Pistons fell behind 10-2, 42-27 and 96-81. But they fought back each time to make the game competitive, unlike Friday against Dallas.

It was also a pleasant surprise to see Allen Iverson, who was on the bench for the final 11 minutes of the game, look so upbeat as his teammates attempted to comeback. With all the questions surrounding the Pistons’ two star shooting guards, it has to be a positive that Iverson can handle not getting minutes down the stretch so well.

Detroit scored its most points in regulation since a 114-110 over Indiana on Dec. 12.  Richard  Hamilton went off for 27, and Rasheed Wallace finally came to life with 22.

And the Pistons’ 31 assists are a season high. Rodney Stuckey and Iverson each had eight, and Hamilton distributed the ball well off the bench. He had five assists, as did Tayshaun Prince.

Still, it’s a bit strange to think Detroit performed pretty well in a loss that it played horrific defense in.

  • The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak over the Rockets at home.
  • Houston’s 37 first-quarter points were the most the Pistons have allowed in a quarter this season. Detroit coach Michael Curry had to call two timeouts in the game’s first six minutes to slow the Rockets.
  • Houston forward Luis Scola made all five of his shots in that frame, and he finished 9-for-11 for 21 points. The Pistons interior defense has really fallen apart.
  • Curry started Kwame Brown, even though Yao Ming was out with an injury. Brown was a complete non-factor, picking up a rebound and no other stats in his five minutes of play as Houston jumped out to a big lead. Curry completely failed by not adjusting his starting lineup once it was clear Yao was out.
  • Stuckey was limited with foul trouble, but he shot an economical 7-of-12. His foul trouble changed the rotation a bit, and Iverson and Hamilton shared the backcourt at times. When playing together, they did a nice job of forcing the tempo and finding shots before the Rockets set their defense. Will Bynum didn’t play for the first time since Hamilton went to the bench.
  • The Pistons continue to struggle at the line, making just 11-of-20 free throws . Iverson at 6-of-10 was the main culprit.
  • Part of Houston’s undoing in the fourth quarter was Rafer Alston’s to decision to take the game into his own hands. In the fourth quarter, he took more shots than the rest of the game combined and had just one assists (nine entering with no turnovers).

Live Blog: Detroit vs. Houston

Game Preview: Detroit vs. Houston

Date: Jan. 25, 2009

Time: 6:30 p.m.

Detroit record: 24-18

Houston record: 27-17

Detroit probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Allen
Iverson
Tayshaun
Prince
Rasheed
Wallace
Kwame
Brown

Houston probable starters:

PG SG SF F C

Rafer
Alston
Von
Wafer
Shane
Battier
Luis
Scola
Yao
Ming

Spread: Detroit -2.5

Outlook: Even with nagging injury problems, the Rockets have been one of the better teams in the Western Conference.

Unsurprisingly, Houston has been at its best when more of its big three – Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest – play.

[TABLE=12]

The Rockets haven’t played any games without any of the three. Each of them are game-time decisions today.

The Pistons are 1-1 since returning to their big lineup. And they’ll go even bigger by starting Kwame Brown against Yao today.

But Detroit’s most important matchups might be in the back court, especially if Houston’s big three are limited with injuries.

In his last four games, Rafer Alston has averaged 20 points on 50-percent shooting, 7.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. And Von Wafer averages 16.4 points per game as a starter.

Rodney Stuckey and Allen Iverson will probably have to make those role players play like role players if the Pistons are going to win.

  • The game is available for free on ESPN360. Unfortunately, it’s not available to those with Comcast or Time Warner.

Brown will likely start against Rockets

Kwame Brown will start at center against Houston on Sunday, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers.

Rasheed Wallace will slide to power forward, and Amir Johnson will come off the bench. Curry had said Brown will start against bigger centers, like the Rockets’ 7-foot-6 Yao Ming.

Yao didn’t play in the second half of Houston’s last game against Indiana. But Curry expects him to play Sunday.

“I’m prepared as if Yao’s going (to play),” Curry said. “That’s the only thing I’ve thought about; that Yao is going to play and Kwame is going to start.”

It’s not clear if Brown will start if Yao sits out.

Professional Game Coverage: Dallas 112, Detroit 91

Game Review: Dallas 112, Detroit 91

Instead of imitating the hard-nosed teams of Piston glory, new-look Detroit looked way too much like its opponent.

The Mavericks, not known for defense, rebounding or scrapiness completely controlled the tempo tonight.

Detroit entered the day with the third-fewest turnovers in the league. Holding a season average of 12.2, the Pistons turned the ball over 13 times in the first half. Behind Jason Kidd’s 10 assists, the Mavericks scorched the Pistons on several fastbreaks.

And Detroit didn’t disrupt Dirk Nowitzki physically early, and he found a rhythm. The Dallas star scored 26 points on 12-of-20 shooting.

Although the Pistons fell behind early, small ball did them in for good. The Pistons brought out small ball for the final 3:36 of the first half, and the Mavericks took control of the game.

Points: 14-4.

Rebounds: 4-1.

Assists: 4-1.

Steals: 2-0.

I think playing Rodney Stuckey, Allen Iverson, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince together is a good idea for a few minutes per game, even if it didn’t work today. They just can’t get all the minutes their talents calls for if one of them is always on the bench.

Live Blog: Detroit vs. Dallas

Game Preview: Detroit vs. Dallas

Date: Jan. 23, 2009

Time: 7 p.m.

Detroit record: 23-17

Dallas record: 24-18

Detroit probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Allen
Iverson
Tayshaun
Prince
Amir
Johnson
Rasheed
Wallace

Dallas probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Jason
Kidd
Antoine
Wright
Josh
Howard
Dirk
Nowitzki
Eric
Dampier

Spread: Detroit -4

Outlook: Tonight’s matchup is between a pair of teams that have disappointed so far this season.

The Pistons are on pace to win 48 games, and the Mavericks on track to win 47. Both totals would be impressive for most teams.

But Detroit has won 50 games in seven straight seasons, and Dallas has reached 50 in the last eight.

There’s plenty of reason to think the Pistons will turn it around in the second half of the season. Allen Iverson is still getting acclimated, and Detroit is finally starting a larger lineup.

But the Pistons have the easiest strength of schedule in the NBA so far.

Detroit’s big lineup helped the Pistons to their biggest win of the season against Toronto. If they have similar success tonight against a pretty good Dallas team, the reasons to think a turnaround are in order will overshadow the scheduling concerns.

Antoine Wright probably won’t make Allen Iverson work too hard defensively. When Iverson has more energy for offense and can dribble agressively to his favorite spots on the court to shoot, he’s at his best. When he just dribbles aimlessly before taking jumpers, he’s pretty ineffective.

But the same could be said for Amir Johnson not giving Dirk Nowitzki much to handle on defense.

This game could come down to whether Iverson or Nowitzki is more productive on offense. And that might come down to how difficult a job checking Wright (and Jason Terry, his backup) and Johnson (and Antonio McDyess and Jason Maxiell) will be.

  • The game is available for free on ESPN360. Unfortunately, it’s not available to those with Comcast or Time Warner.

Iverson to start in All-Star Game

The Pistons finally have their superstar. At least in the minds of NBA fans.

Allen Iverson will start in the All-Star Game. The two-time MVP of the contest had the fewest votes for an Eastern Conference starter. Amar’e Stoudemire is the only Western Conference starter to receive fewer votes than Iverson.

The feeling with this selection is a little different because Iverson has been with Detroit for just 37 games, but he’s the first Piston to start in the All-Star Game since Ben Wallace in 2004.

  • Here’s a bit of trivia via the Elias Sports Bureau. “Iverson is the 12th player to be named an All-Star for at least three different NBA teams, but he’s only the third player to do so over a span of four seasons.” Who were the others? Answer after the jump.

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