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Archive → October, 2009

Live Blog: Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks

Essentials

Date: Oct. 31, 2009

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 1-1

Milwaukee: 0-1

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Rodney
Stuckey

Ben
Gordon

Tayshaun
Prince

Charlie
Villanueva

Ben
Wallace

Milwaukee:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Brandon
Jennings

Michael
Redd

Luc
Mbah a Moute

Kurt
Thomas

Andrew
Bogut

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +2.5

Over/under: 184

Score: Milwaukee wins, 93-91

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.4 (16th)

Detroit defensive rating: 95.3 (4th)

Detroit pace: 86.6 (30th)

Milwaukee offensive rating: 87.8 (29th)

Milwaukee defensive rating: 101.1 (9th)

Milwaukee City pace: 98.0 (3rd)

Score: Detroit wins, 95-85

Outlook

Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince should see a little bit less playing time tonight in the second game of a back-to-back. I hope that means more minutes for Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye.

I’m not sure those guys necessarily belong in the rotation. But I’m just excited to see what they can do.

As a basketball fan, I’m also pretty pumped to see Brandon Jennings (17 points, nine rebounds and nine assist’s in Milwaukee’s season-opening loss at Philadelphia).

  • Come back for the live blog at 8:30 (or so. Might start a few minutes late).

Game Review: Detroit Pistons drop home opener

I had to work during the game, but I caught bits and pieces between the live broadcast and the replay later. Combine those with the box score and I have a few observations.

  • I predicted in the game preview Rodney Stuckey would be more aggressive. And he was to the tune of 21 points, including 12-of-13 from the line. But he shot just 4-of-15 and had a 2-to-3 assist-to-turnover ratio. Russell Westbrook was just 2-of-11 and he had five turnovers, but his team won, and he had 10 assists and a plus-two plus/minus rating (to Stuckey’s negative-10). I think Stuckey is 0-for-1 in his revenge tour.
  • Ben Wallace continues to look like the Ben Wallace of old instead of the old Ben Wallace – 12 rebounds, three steals and two blocks in 32 minutes. His plus-three plus/minus rating was also tied for best on the team.
  • Ben Gordon also was plus-three. I think I already established I’m on the Ben Gordon bandwagon, and his 25 points, seven rebounds and fours assists should help fill it.
  • Charlie Villanueva looked uncomfortable whenever I happened to look up, and the number confirmed it – 3-of-12 for eight points. He still might be shaking the rust off after missing most of the preseason with an injury.
  • The Pistons lost the bench scoring battle, 18-16. I suspect this is one of the few times this year you’ll be able to say that.
  • Before the season, I predicted the Oklahoma City would win 38 games  – a 15-game improvement from last year. No reason for me to doubt that now. The Thunder look good, and their youngsters are maturing.
  • Natalie from Need4Sheed comes through with video of Mason’s introductions and a nice tribute for Bill Davidson:

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Essentials

Date: Oct. 30, 2009

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 1-0

Oklahoma City: 1-0

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Rodney
Stuckey

Ben
Gordon

Tayshaun
Prince

Charlie
Villanueva

Ben
Wallace

Oklahoma City:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Russell
Westbrook

Thabo 
Sefolosha

Kevin
Durant

Jeff
Green

Nenad
Krstic

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit -5

Over/under: 191

Score: Detroit wins, 98-93

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 115.7 (4th)

Detroit defensive rating: 89.2 (2nd)

Detroit pace: 82.9 (28th)

Oklahoma City offensive rating: 112.9 (7th)

Oklahoma City defensive rating: 98.5 (9th)

Oklahoma City pace: 90.3 (24th)

Score: Detroit wins, 93-88

Outlook

Before the season, Rodney Stuckey was asked about being passed over for the USA Select Team. He admitted he noticed who made the team, and although he didn’t say much more, he didn’t look pleased about the choices.

Well, Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook was one of the players who got the nod over Stuckey. So, Detroit’s third-year point guard could speak up tonight – through his game.

Expect Stuckey to assert himself early and often. He scored a respectable 12 points on 10 shots in Memphis. But I expect both those numbers to go up tonight.

Stuckey might even see some time at shooting guard. Richard Hamilton sprained his ankle against Memphis, and he’s a game-time decision. He’s usually missed games the other times he’s sprained it, according to Terry Foster of the Detroit News.

  • Sorry, no live blog tonight.

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Player Preview: Chris Wilcox

Role

Wilcox played just six minutes against the Grizzlies in the season opener – a blowout the Pistons dressed just 10 players for.

Besides Kwame Brown and Ben Wallace, Wilcox is the Pistons’ only other legitimate center. Wilcox isn’t that good, but he’s in a good position to see minutes – at least compared to where he’d be on other teams.

Scouting report

Will: Score

Wilcox runs the floor pretty well, and he can finish on the break. He also has couple of low-post moves.

He’s not great, but he can put the ball in the hoop. His career offensive rating of 108 is solid.

Won’t: Defend.

On the other hand, Wilcox’s career defensive rating is also 108 – pretty dismal. It’s never seemed like he wants to absorb and dish out the contact that good interior defenders must.

Must improve: His outlook.

Wilcox and Kwame Brown are very similar. Both were high draft choices who haven’t performed up to that billing. And both have tremendous physical statures.

Brown has reinvented himself as a defender and a rebounder, and it’s worked out great. Wilcox would do well to take a lesson from his new teammate.

Stock

Falling

Wilcox is entering his seventh year in the league. And the former No. 8 pick still hasn’t made a significant impact.

He’s talented enough to hang around the league for a while. But time is quickly running out (if it hasn’t already) for him to make the type of impact many though he could.

Three predictions

1. Wilcox will be the last player from the opening-night roster (including the suspended players) to crack the rotation.

He’s a step ahead of DaJuan Summers and Chucky Atkins – but that’s it.

Pistons coach John Kuester preaches defense – not exactly Wilcox’s strong suit. Wilcox isn’t on the fast track to endear himself.

But he’s still talented enough that he will get a chance at some point when injuries strike.

2. Wilcox will have the best offensive game of any Pistons center this year.

Wilcox doesn’t produce consistently, but he’s definitely capable of putting together a few monster games. His offensive ceiling is much higher than Wallace’s or Brown’s. Even with fewer opportunities than them, Wilcox will have at least one great game. 

3. Wilcox won’t be a Pistons next year.

Everyone said Ben Gordon was a bad fit with the Pistons. But what about Wilcox? At least Gordon tries on defense.

Wilcox has a $3 million player option for next season. If he picks it up, I bet Joe Dumars will look to move him.

For each of the Pistons’ new players, I want  get another voice (or more) besides my own into the previews – someone who has seen these players up close more than I have. I call this feature “in other words.”

In other words: Royce Young

Royce Young, who runs Daily Thunder, explains what the Pistons should expect from Wilcox.

If there is one word to describe Chris Wilcox, it’s inconsistent. He can actually drive you nuts with it.

He’ll go through a lull of four games doing nothing – 18 minutes, four points, two rebounds two turnovers, or something like that.

But then on the fifth night, he’ll blow up for 16 points, 11 boards and a crucial block or two. He’ll energize the arena with a soaring dunk. And you’ll think, "Okay, here we go! Let the Chris Wilcox era begin!"

Sadly though, the next game it’s back to another lackluster performance. I don’t know if he’s unfocused or uninspired, but it really drives you batty. To have that much skill and ability and not work to harness it.

It finally got to Scott Brooks last year as he stuffed Wilcox on the end of the bench before Presti finally got him shipped to New York after the failed Tyson Chandler deal.

Wilcox can definitely help win you a game here and there, but that’s the problem. He’s all here and there.

Game Review: Ben Gordon doesn’t deserve Vinnie Johnson comparison

It’s tempting to compare Ben Gordon, the Pistons’ latest sixth man, to Vinnie Johnson, Detroit’s quintessential reserve.

Nicknamed “The Microwave” (he heats up in a hurry), Johnson was adored by fans. He’s scored the sixth most points in franchise history. And his No. 15 hangs from the Palace rafters.

Johnson is a Pistons icon.

I just don’t think it’s fair to compare Gordon to him.

Gordon is too good.

The Pistons’ new star was on full display last night in the Pistons’ season opener, a 96-74 win over the Grizzlies. Gordon scored 22 points off the bench on 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-7 from behind the arc.

I know it was just one game. I know it was against lowly Memphis. And I know Richard Hamilton scored more (25 points on 10-of-19 shooting).

But Gordon impressed me immensely.

When Hamilton started the game cold, Gordon came in and immediately helped Detroit take control. He even converted a four-point play.

And Gordon produced both ways great scorers do – finding easy shots and making tough ones. I think he will be the best scorer the Pistons have had in quite some time.

In his young career, Gordon has averaged 18.5 points per game and has a .554 true shooting percentage, which accounts for the value of 3-pointers and free throws.

Just 10 Pistons have ever had seasons that eclipse those numbers, let alone careers.

  • Bob Laineer (six times)
  • Kelly Tripucka (three times)
  • Adrian Dantley (twice)
  • Joe Dumars (twice)
  • Grant Hill (twice)
  • Isiah Thomas
  • Walt Bellamy
  • M.L. Carr
  • Allan Houston
  • Bailey Howell

Just Tripucka and Dantley have topped those numbers for their Pistons careers. Tripucka spent five seasons in Detroit, and Dantley was here for two-and-a-half.

Here’s to hoping Gordon, 26, sticks around longer. Maybe by then, we can find a better comparison for him.

Hamilton hurt

Hamilton also had an excellent game (who said he couldn’t play with Gordon?). But he left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. X-rays were negative, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of MLive.

Unsung heroes

  • Ben Wallace had nine rebounds and a block in 28 minutes. I’m not sure if he’ll hold up all season, but he looks good right now.
  • We all know Bynum can score in bunches. But if he can show he can do more, he has an outside shot of becoming a starting point guard somewhere next year. He was just 2-of-6 from the field last night. But he also had seven assists and five rebounds in 22 minutes.

Questions remain

  • I was curious to see how the rotation would shake out this year, but this wasn’t the best game to get a peak. Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko were suspended for fighting in the preseason. Charlie Villanueva got in early foul trouble. And the game was out of hand early in the fourth quarter.
  • The Pistons have talked a lot about running more. Their pace last year (86.7 possessions per 48 minutes) was 29th in the league. They had just 81.7 possessions last night. But the pace slowed dramatically in garbage time, so it’s tough to gauge how much more Detroit wants to run.

Pistons at Grizzlies live blog

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at Memphis Grizzlies

Essentials

Date: Oct. 28, 2009

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records*

Detroit: 4-4

Memphis: 3-5

*preseason

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Rodney
Stuckey

Richard
Hamilton

Tayshaun
Prince

Charlie
Villanueva

Ben
Wallace

Memphis:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Mike
Conley

O.J.
Mayo

Rudy
Gay

Zach
Randolph

Marc
Gasol

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit -2

Over/under: 191

Score: Detroit wins, 97-95

Statistical projection*

Detroit offensive rating: 107.4 (21st)

Detroit defensive rating: 108.0 (16th)

Detroit pace: 86.7 (29th)

Memphis offensive rating: 103.5 (28th)

Memphis defensive rating: 109.5 (21st)

Memphis pace: 90.1 (20th)

Score: Detroit wins, 96-93

*Based on last year’s numbers

Outlook

Detroit enters the season opener with a ton of uncertainty after losing two-and-a-half starters (Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess and Allen Iverson) from a season ago. And the Pistons fate today may be even more uncertain than hoped.

Richard Hamilton missed Tuesday’s practice for personal reasons, and that might mean a trade is coming. (Update: Hamilton is in Memphis, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of MLive. I guess I’ll stop reading tea leaves for a few days). Tayshaun Prince and Kwame Brown are nursing injuries, but both are expected to play. Rookies Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye, both expected to be in the rotation, are serving suspensions for preseason fights.

I think the Pistons will be better than most expect this year, but they probably won’t show it tonight – even against the Grizzlies.

That doesn’t mean Detroit won’t win, but this game will be ugly. Consider it the ninth preseason game.

  • Check out Chip Crain’s preview at 3 Shades of Blue.
  • Come back at 8 p.m. to participate in a live blog of today’s game.
  • I’m going to finish the player previews for the Pistons’ newcomers in this early part of the season. Also, watch out for a state of the team address.

Are the Pistons on the verge of trading Richard Hamilton?

First, Deron Washington’s release raised a few eyebrows. A very logical explanation for cutting a player who you have room for and have to pay regardless: you want the extra roster spot for a 2-for-1 or 3-for-2 trade.

Now, as pointed about Steve Kays on Twitter (@NBAKays), Richard Hamilton missed today’s practice for personal reasons, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of MLive. Hamilton isn’t hurt.

Pistons coach John Kuester said Hamilton will be in Memphis for tomorrow’s game. Neither Blakely nor Dave Pemberton of The Oakland Press specify if that means Hamilton will play. Kuester’s way of misleading without lying, perhaps?

We should know a lot more tomorrow. But Joe Dumars has shown he’s not shy about making late-summer or even early-fall trades.