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Archive → February, 2009

Game Review: San Antonio 83, Detroit 79

This is why the Pistons traded for Allen Iverson.

Wait. Let’s try that again.

This is why Detroit pursued Iverson instead of other expiring contracts.

What’s that? Pistons president Joe Dumars did Chauncey Billups the favor of sending him home to Denver, and Iverson was the only Nugget who had a big enough expiring contract to make the deal work?

Well, Detroit has Iverson, and last night’s game showed the upside of the move  at least until Dumars can parlay Iverson’s expiring contract into somebody more valuable.

The game was the type of slow-paced, grind-it-out contest you see in the playoffs. And how many times have the Pistons lost a playoff game because they didn’t have a player who could create his own shot?

From 1:30 left in the third quarter until the end of the game, Iverson scored 16 points. None of his baskets in that stretch were assisted.

Iverson, who finished with 31 points and seven assists, drove for layups, found pull-up jumpers and got to the free throw line. He didn’t look 25. But he definitely didn’t look all of 33, which he has for most of the season.

So even though Detroit lost to the Spurs, on the NBA’s top teams, Iverson performance tonight is encouraging for the Pistons in playoff games.

That is, if they make the playoffs.

Stuck

Rodney Stuckey had an excellent start to the game. He assisted on two Rasheed Wallace jumpers and one by Antonio McDyess. Then he drove for a layup to give the Pistons a 9-0 lead.

Stuckey had seven assists in the first half, but he was a non-contributor after the break.

He didn’t take any shots. He had a rebound and an assist. Add on two fouls, and that’s Stuckey’s complete second-half production.

The Pistons are now 0-5 when Stuckey scores fewer than five points, including their last two games.

Benching the bench

Just two reserves played last night.

Richard Hamilton had just four points, three rebounds two assists and a steal in 34 minutes. Jason Maxiell had 10 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes.

The shortened rotation really seemed to tire Detroit’s legs as the game went on. The Pistons’ field-goal percentage dropped each quarter. And McDyess, who had a double-double with 7:52 left in the third quarter, added just three more points and rebounds the rest of the way.

Notes

  • Detroit’s five-game losing streak is tied for its worst skid of the season. 
  • The Spurs’ team effort made up for the absence of Manu Ginobili.

Tim Duncan:18 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks.

Tony Parker: 19 points, 11 assists and five rebounds. 

Matt Bonner: 15 points (5-of-8 on 3-pointers) and seven rebounds.

Michael Finley and Roger Mason: eight points apiece.

San Antonio has such a winning culture, it’s no surprise the Spurs get performances like this when one of their Big Three is out.

  • Flip Saunders attended last night’s Michigan-Minnesota game at Crisler Arena.

Game Preview: Detroit vs. San Antonio

Date: Feb. 19, 2009

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Detroit record: 27-25

San Antonio record: 35-17

Detroit probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Allen
Iverson
Tayshaun
Prince
Antonio
McDyess
Rasheed
Wallace

San Antonio probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Tony
Parker
Roger
Mason
Michael
Finley
Tim
Duncan
Matt
Bonner

Spread: Detroit -1

Outlook: How in the world are the Pistons favored in this game?

Losers of four straight, Detroit seems on the verge of imploding. And the next seven games certainly don’t help (NBA rank for winning percentage in parenthesis).

vs. San Antonio (6)

at Cleveland (3)

at Miami (14)

at New Orleans (8)

at Orlando (4)

at Boston (2)

vs. Denver (5)

Even with Manu Ginobili out with sore right ankle, this stretch could be a season killer.

It’s far more likely the Pistons go winless than win three games in the stretch. Here’s what Allen Iverson told the Detroit News:

“That’s what we need,” Allen Iverson said. “We don’t need some (mediocre) team to come in here and then beat them and start feeling like we did something. We need to beat quality teams. We need that challenge. We need somebody that’s going to come in here and want to kick our butts all over the basketball court, just to see how we respond.”

I like the optimism, but show you can beat a mediocre team first. They want to kick your butts all over the basketball court, too. I just don’t see this ending well.

NBA Today Podcast

I talked with Jason Smith for ESPN’s NBA Today Podcast last night about the Pistons’ troubles this season and the direction they’re going.

You can listen to it here. The segment begins at the 21:32 mark.

Iverson’s hair

Here are couple of videos on Allen Iverson’s new haircut, via Truehoop. The first is video of the cut. The second is his All-Star teammates’ reactions.

Among the highlights:

“I know my head band’s gonna be big as shit.”

“Man, I look young as hell.”

Professional Game Coverage: Milwaukee 92, Detroit 86

Game Review: Milwaukee 92, Detroit 86

The Pistons didn’t have multiple All-Stars for the first time in four years. So they waited an extra two days to play a game they weren’t interested in until it was almost over.

And in doing so, they provided the perfect metaphor for Anonio McDyess’s stint in Detroit. 

The Pistons were outscored in the first and second quarters for the first time since the Mavericks beat them in every quarter on Jan. 23.

At halftime, the Bucks led 50-37 and had out-rebounded Detroit, 24-18. After George Blaha relayed these stats on Fox Sports Detroit, Greg Kelser chimed in.

“The Pistons are also trailing in the physicality department,” Kelser said.

Tayshaun Prince’s defensive effort on Richard Jefferson was most disappointing. Jefferson scored 19 first-half points on 5-of-6 shooting. He finished with 29 points on 13 shots.

And Allen Iverson (4-for-13), Rasheed Wallace (4-for-11) and Rodney Stuckey (1-for-6) turned in largely uninspired performances.

The Pistons’ play was so pathetic, they went on a 19-5 run in the fourth quarer and still never led after the game’s first minute.

McDyess, on the other hand, played with tremendous passion. He easily could have been upset about his teammates’ effort, his uncomfortable role as  a starter or the dwindling chances he will ever win a title.

Instead, he just played hard. Nothing fancy. No mismatch he repeatedly exploited. No tricks. Just old-fashioned effort.

McDyess finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. But it was for all naught because, once again, the rest of the Pistons played flat.

Wonder if he’s regretting his decision to come back to Detroit after the Nuggets waived him?

Sessions slowed

After scoring 44 points and dishing 12 assists in the teams’ last matchup, Ramon Sessions finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists tonight. 

He was particularly bothered by the Pistons’ zone defense in the fourth quarter. He didn’t make a shot after Detroit changed schemes.

Super sub

Richard Hamilton was second on the Pistons with 22 points. He scored 10 straight Detroit points late in the third quarter and early in the fourth to keep the Pistons within striking distance.

He now averages 19.6 points per game in 12 games off the bench. He scored 16.7 points per game in 32 games as a starter.

Notes

  • In his first game since McDyess replaced him in the starting lineup, Amir Johnson had two points, three rebounds, two blocks and two fouls in 14 minutes.
  • Malik Allen had season highs with 14 points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench for the Bucks.
  • The Pistons won the rebounding battle, 43-41. They have out-rebounded  five of their last six opponents.

Live Blog: Detroit vs. Milwaukee

Game Preview: Detroit vs. Milwaukee

Date: Feb. 17, 2009

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Detroit record: 27-24

Milwaukee record: 26-29

Detroit probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Allen
Iverson
Tayshaun
Prince
Antonio
McDyess
Rasheed
Wallace

Milwaukee probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Ramon
Sessions
Luc
Mbah a Moute
Richard
Jefferson
Charlie
Villanueva
Francisco
Elson

Spread: Detroit -6.5

Outlook: The obvious key tonight is slowing Ramon Sessions, who torched the Pistons 44 points and 12 assists 10 days ago.

Although I’m against Michael Curry’s decision to start McDyess (you can read my previous thoughts on the subject here and here), the move could help with Sessions. Detroit’s guard didn’t keep Sessions in front of them, but the Pistons’ bigs continued failure to rotate was the real outrage. From Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

More than any other Pistons starter, Rasheed Wallace should benefit from McDyess’ transition.

“Another veteran who takes pride in defense,” Wallace said. “Now, I won’t have to cover as much floor. Hopefully, it’ll help out.”

McDyess, of course, is taking the move in stride. More from McCosky:

“I know we’ve been struggling this year and (coach Michael Curry) came to me and asked me, ‘Would you start?’” McDyess said. “I told him, ‘Yeah, whatever it takes.’ I know it’s already been tough this year. I don’t want to make it more complicated than it already is. It was easy for me to tell him yes.”

But, in his heart of hearts, McDyess would prefer to stay in his comfort zone, which is coming off the bench.

“At this point in my career, I thought I’d just continue to come off the bench and be a role player,” he said. “It’s still kind of tough to know at this age that I am starting. But it’s a good compliment. For me, it’s no problem. I just know I’ve got to do whatever I can, whether I am in there for 10 minutes or 20 minutes.”

McDyess starting shouldn’t hurt the Pistons’ bench scoring much with Rip Hamilton now a reserve. Hamilton averages 19.4 points per game since going to the bench, 2.7 more than when he was starting. And he scored 38 points the last time the last time these teams met. 

Looking deeper into the Acker trade

Word from all directions has said the Pistons trade of Alex Acker to the Clippers clears cap room for the summer.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

The move also clears more cap space this summer when the combined contracts of Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace, a value of $35 million, clears the books.

A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers:

Not only does the deal clear enough money for this season that should help Detroit avoid paying a luxury tax, but it also clears about $1 million of cap space for next season.

Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

More importantly, the deal puts the Pistons some $500,000 under the luxury tax threshold for this year and clears another $1 million of salary cap space for this summer.

But every indication prior to the last few days says Acker signed a one-year deal in September, which means the trade doesn’t change the amount of cap room in the summer.

Pistons Nation linking a McCosky article that can no longer be accessed:

Alex Acker, who the Pistons drafted with the 60th pick in the 2005 NBA draft, has signed a one-year partially guaranteed contract.

Blakely:

Alex Acker won’t have to earn a roster spot after all. The 6-foot-5 combo guard signed a one-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Pistons.

Hoopshype also lists Acker’s contract as expiring.

There was a little dispute about whether Acker’s deal was guaranteed, but nobody indicated it was for longer than one year. And there’s nothing about an extension listed in the Pistons’ transactions.

So what gives? My best guess is the Pistons told writers the deal cleared cap room, so they wrote that. It sure makes the trade seem better than saying it was purely to avoid the luxury tax. If anyone has other ideas why everyone is saying this deal clears cap room, I’m interested in hearing them.

Acker traded to Clippers

The Pistons have traded Alex Acker to the Clippers, according The Associated Press. The two teams will also exchange draft picks, according to the report.

The trade will put the Pistons under the luxury tax, earning the team about $3 million.