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Archive → February, 2009

Professional Game Coverage: Detroit 93, Orlando 85

Game Review: Detroit 93, Orlando 85

The Pistons finally had all five starters play well — together.

Oh, they all had their flaws. But they did enough to win, and that’s something Detroit hadn’t done in 20 days.

The Pistons avoided their first nine-game losing streak since they dropped 13 in a row to end the 1993-94 season.

Detroit’s new starting backcourt of Rodney Stuckey and Richard Hamilton led the way. And unlike Allen Iverson, they both scored efficiently.

Stuckey scored 22 points (15 shots), his most in 21 games. And Hamilton scored 31 (18 shots), his most in nine games.

That’s a combined 53 points on 33 shots. By comparison, Iverson averages 43 points in games that he takes at least 33 shots — and that includes a 60-point game in 2005.

In their last game, the Pistons trailed the Hornets, 20-11, with Iverson and outscored New Orleans, 76-70, without him. Last night, Detroit continued to play better without the future Hall of Famer.

In addition to the Pistons’ stellar backcourt play, Tayshaun Prince chipped in 17 points.

Rasheed Wallace and Antonio McDyess played solid defense on Dwight Howard. And their 23 combined rebounds helped Detroit win the board war by 10, their best margin in 10 games.

The Pistons were more cohesive and scrappier than they had been in a long time. The starters took turns scoring. They helped on defense. And they appeared to actually take pride in their play.

 But they certainly weren’t perfect.

Stuckey didn’t balance scoring and floor-general duties, notching one assist and four turnovers.

Hamilton controlled the ball a little too much and had three turnovers.

Prince disappeared down the stretch and didn’t take a shot in the last nine minutes of the game.

McDyess slowed ball movement and didn’t have any assists.

Wallace shot 2-for-11.

And the Pistons bench scored just nine points, its fewest since it scored six against Charlotte on Jan. 13. But Iverson, in his new sixth man role, could help.

Maybe it’s just greedy to think of how a win over one of the NBA’s elite teams could have been smoother.

But all of a sudden, this season has hope.

Live Blog: Detroit at Orlando

Wallaced fined $25,000

The NBA fined Rasheed Wallace $25,000 for his actions in the fourth quarter of the Pistons’ game against the Hornets on Wednesday, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Video from Need4Sheed:

 

Game Preview: Detroit at Orlando

Date: Feb. 27, 2009

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Detroit record: 27-29

Orlando record: 42-15

Detroit probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Richard
Hamilton
Tayshaun
Prince
Antonio
McDyess
Rasheed
Wallace

Orlando probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Rafer
Alston
Courtney
Lee
Hedu
Turkoglu
Rashard
Lewis
Dwight
Howard

Spread: Detroit +9.5

Outlook: The Magic are tied for first in the NBA in 3-point percentage and 3-pointers made. It’s a huge reason they have the league’s fourth best record.

Detroit, on the other hand, is 26th in percentage and 28th in makes. The Pistons poor shooting beyond the arc has a lot to do with their odds of making the playoffs falling to 44.3, according to ESPN.com’s John Hollinger.

There’s no quick fix for this disparity, as much as Michael Curry thinks giving Walter Herrmann more minutes will work.

In a much more significant move, Hamilton has replaced Iverson in the starting lineup. Iverson is back in Detroit for tests on his back, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

The Magic are also shorthanded with Jameer Nelson still out.

  • Tonight’s game is available on ESPN 360. Unfortunately, the service is unavailable to those with Comcast or Time Warner.

Herrmann not the answer

Walter Herrmann’s game-tying 3-point attempt didn’t fall against the Hornets on Wednesday. Given the situation, he had a good look. The play call, as detailed by Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, made sense. 

But Michael Curry’s decision to give Walter Herrmann more minutes doesn’t.

Curry wants Herrmann to help the Pistons 3-point shooting, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. It’s especially important for Detroit to spread the floor when teams pack the lane to defend the drives of Rodney Stuckey and Allen Iverson.

Kevin Sawyer of Detroit Bad Boys goes in depth on the Pistons’ 3-point woes. He asks, “Isn’t there anyone on this team who can be relied upon to hit an open three pointer?” Curry thinks Herrmann is the answer, but there’s little reason to believe this move isn’t another blunder by the first-year coach.

Herrmann’s 3-point percentage: 32.8.

The NBA’s 3-point percentage: 36.7.

Curry should accept the Pistons just aren’t a team full of good 3-point shooters. Only three teams rely on a single player to shoot a higher percentage of their 3-pointers than Detroit with Rasheed Wallace:

The Magic with Rashard Lewis.

The Celtics with Ray Allen.

The Heat with Daequan Cook.

Lewis is first and Allen is second in the league in 3-pointers made. And Cook, this year’s 3-point Shooout winner, is tied for seventh.

Wallace is 26th.

A dropoff in 3-point shooting should have been expected when Detroit traded Billups, fourth in 3-point percentage in team history. And Richard Hamilton’s drop from 44 percent last year to 34.7 percent this year also hurts.

But relying on Wallace (6-foot-11) and Herrmann (6-foot-9) to shore up the damage creates other problems. With their bigger players outside, the Pistons get fewer offensive rebounds.

So although everyone is focusing on adding a big man like Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire in the offseason, adding a quality outside shooter like Kyle Korver, Jarrett Jack, Damon Jones or Luther Head will be important, too.

Hamilton to start

Richard Hamilton is back in the Pistons’ starting lineup, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers. He will replace Allen Iverson, who is questionable with a sore back. But Detroit coach Michael Curry said the move would have come anyway.

More from Chris McCosky of the Detroit News

“This change is more than about Allen and Rip,” Curry said. “We hope that with this change, more guys will play better. That’s what we are seeking. Hopefully this will allow us to execute better, get us back in sync and rejuvenate us.”

Curry said he talked at length to Iverson Thursday night. Curry said Iverson isn’t happy with the decision but he expects him to handle it like a pro.

“He’s been trying to play hurt and he’s been frustrated with that,” Curry said. “He didn’t react any different than Rip did when I told talked him about coming off the bench earlier. Neither guy wants to come off the bench, but this is the hand we’ve been dealt. If Allen is healthy, once he steps on the court I am convinced he will give us 110 percent.”

After the Pistons lost to New Orleans on Wednesday, Hamilton voiced his discontent. Via the Detroit News:

“I said I would come off the bench as long as we win,” Hamilton said. “But we’ve been losing. We are 4-12 with me coming off the bench. Something’s got to give. Something’s got to change. I am on board with doing whatever for the team but coming off the bench and we’re not winning, that’s something totally different.”

The switch came shortly after McCosky and Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press called for Iverson to go to the bench.

When Iverson missed a Feb. 10 game against the Bulls with the flu, Arron Afflalo started instead of Hamilton.

My take

This is a good change. What the Pistons are doing isn’t working, so something had to be done. I’m not sure  this is the best possible move, but it’s definitely better than standing pat.

The biggest worry is how Iverson will handle it. But he’s in a contract year, so he’ll put up with more than he normally will. Running with guys like Amir Johnson, Jason Maxiell and Afflalo in the Pistons’ second unit could boost his stock.

And the other starters should gel much better with Hamilton than they have with Iverson.

Game Review: New Orleans 90, Detroit 87

This is the end of  an era.

The Pistons played the hardest they have in weeks and still lost their eighth straight game. This ties their worst losing streak since 1994-95.

But worse, Detroit can no longer rely on two of their starters.

Last night the Pistons trailed, 20-11, when Allen Iverson left the game with a sore back. After that, they outscored the Hornets, 76-70.

There have been plenty of thoughts Detroit would be better off without Iverson, but now there’s clear, solid evidence. And that’s causing tension. Richard Hamilton via the Detroit News:

“I said I would come off the bench as long as we win,” Hamilton said. “But we’ve been losing. We are 4-12 with me coming off the bench. Something’s got to give. Something’s got to change. I am on board with doing whatever for the team but coming off the bench and we’re not winning, that’s something totally different.”

And Rasheed Wallace picked up two technical fouls while the game was tight in the fourth quarter. Video from Need4Sheed:

Wallace won’t be suspended against Orlando on Friday, according to the Detroit News, because the league rescinded two of his previous technicals.

But his actions are inexcusable. This wasn’t Wallace getting ejected in the fourth quarter of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cavaliers two years ago. Cleveland was on a 14-4 run, and Wallace didn’t want to stick around for the ugly end. Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince publicly excused Wallace then.

But last night, Wallace gave up on his teammates. The game was close, and he couldn’t control his emotions. He’s becoming the cancer many feared the Pistons acquired in 2004.

Let’s go back to that Game 6 against the Cavaliers.

 

Everyone seemed to realize the Pistons as we knew them were done.

Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press:

There is no royal cloak on this team. They weren’t robbed. They weren’t exiled. They lost four straight to a young, hungry franchise and left the arena as second runner-up in the NBA playoffs. So long, swagger. By the time the Pistons boarded the bus, the shadow they thought they cast had disappeared permanently into the dark sky of another unhappy ending. 

Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press:

It’s over. And there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the end. It proves that you didn’t take the heights to which the Pistons soared the last five seasons for granted. You appreciate the commitment required. 

Terry Foster of the Detroit News:

The Pistons are done, and now comes the hard reality of losing. This must be the conclusion of the Pistons as we know it. This has been a nice run of five straight Eastern Conference finals, two NBA Finals and an NBA title in 2004. But all good things must come to an end.

But Joe Dumars brought back the same core the next year and the beginning of this year. That won’t happen this time.

Royce Webb of ESPN.com speculates the Detroit might cut Wallace. Foster thinks the Pistons should do it. He’s right to think that Wallace can be detrimental to Detroit’s locker room.

But what if Wallace goes to the Celtics or any other team the Pistons could face in the playoffs? Like Billups in Denver, his motivation will be greater than it could have been with Detroit. It’s a lose-lose situation.

And benching Iverson won’t help, either. He’s too talented and too head-strong to let that move fly smoothly.

In the summer of 2007, every starter save Chauncey Billups was a free agent, so a transformation would have been difficult.

But Wallace and Iverson will be free agents this summer. After last night, it’s clearer than ever, it’s time to let them walk.

The Pistons are just 26 games (unless they rebound enough to make the playoffs) from a new beginning.

Professional Game Coverage: New Orleans 90, Detroit 87

Professional Game Coverage: Miami 103, Detroit 91