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Archive → November, 2009

Charlie Villanueva’s surgery a success, forward questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Bulls

From a team release:

Charlie Villanueva underwent a successful surgical procedure this afternoon to repair a nasal fracture.  The procedure was performed by Dr. Gene Rontal at the DMC Berry Center in Farmington Hills, MI.  Villanueva is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game at Chicago.

Ben Gordon (left ankle sprain) is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game at Chicago…Richard Hamilton (right ankle sprain) and Tayshaun Prince (small ruptured disc – lower back) are out for Wednesday’s contest.

The game I fell in love with the 2009-10 Detroit Pistons

image

Charlie Villanueva is attended to Mike Abdenour and Arnie Kander (Screen shot from Need4Sheed video).

Charlie Villanueva went up for a shot in the fourth quarter against the Hawks last night. Like the Pistons so many times this season, he got knocked down by his opponent and his own team compounded the problem.

Zaza Pachulia scratched Villanueva’s nose, and the first-year Piston went crashing into Ben Wallace’s hip. With blood gushing from his nose, Villanueva sat on the sideline patiently waiting for it stop. When that didn’t work, he sat on the bench patiently waiting for the flow to end.

Mike Abdenour, Arnie Kander, a towel, a timeout and some gauze stuffed up his nose finally stopped Villanueva’s bleeding. Then, the forward went to the free-throw line and finally stopped the Pistons’ bleeding.

Sure, they snapped a snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 94-88 win over Atlanta. But more importantly, they became a team I – and I suspect many other Pistons fans – can be passionate about.

Before that moment, the Pistons had felt like strangers. Most of the team is new from last year – and even though Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins are in their second stints in Detroit, there was still a getting-to-know-you-again period.

Sure, the newcomers seemed like good guys. And I still think they’ll a good team when healthy.

But what had they done to endear themselves?

There were signs: a victory over the Magic, a three-game winning streak against teams that appeared to be battling Detroit for playoff position and Wallace’s resurgence.

But mostly, they showed slow play, a lack of interior scoring and poor development from key players. Injuries are certainly a fair excuse, but this deep into the season, there should have been more evidence the Pistons are on the right track.

It’s not like they had to do much to surpass last year’s squad.

And that makes it OK their breakthrough moment was sort of contrived. This wasn’t a cheap shot or a hard foul. But the Pistons needed something to rally around, and they did.

Villanueva, who didn’t return to the game, doesn’t deserve all the credit. His free throws just put Detroit up six with 9:30 left. It was a full team effort down the stretch.

  • Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum displayed a nice court sense, knowing when to shoot and when to pass.
  • Jonas Jerebko played tremendous defense, especially when he stole the ball on a late two-on-one Atlanta fast break.
  • Jason Maxiell confidently made a couple shots.
  • Wallace grabbed rebound after rebound, especially offensively.

In itself, it was a nice win. The Hawks, who entered the game 12-3, are one of the East’s better teams.

But take a step back. When’s the last time the Pistons had such an inspiring effort?

They were confident. They were aggressive. They were smart.

They even bled. And that should make many fans want to bleed for them (figuratively – we’ll leave the literal version to the professionals).

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Essentials

Date: Nov. 25, 2009

Time: 8:00 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 5-9

Cleveland: 10-4

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Rodney
Stuckey

Ben
Gordon

Jonas
Jerebko

Charlie
Villanueva

Ben
Wallace

Cleveland:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

 

Mo
Williams

Anthony
Parker

LeBron
James

J.J.
Hickson

Shaquille
O’Neal

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +5.5

Over/under: 184

Score: Cleveland wins, 95-89

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 104.7 (21st)

Detroit defensive rating: 107.2 (17th)

Detroit pace: 87.7 (30th)

Cleveland offensive rating: 107.7 (13th)

Cleveland defensive rating: 103.2 (10th)

Cleveland pace: 92.1 (20th)

Score: Cleveland wins, 97-93

Outlook

Not exactly the opponent the Pistons wanted after returning from their brutal road trip. The Cavaliers have won seven of the eight.

On the bright side (maybe?), Shaquille O’Neal will miss the game with an injured shoulder. Another bright spot (probably?), Cleveland plays at a fairly slow pace.

  • Check out Daily Dime Live during the game. I won’t be chatting, but the talk might turn to the Pistons at some point. If not, you can at least keep up with other NBA action.

Tuesday Trivia: turnovers

This week’s quiz is about career turnovers. Just a tip that I saw in a comment when I open it, NBA began tracking turnovers in the 1970-71 season.

My score: 22/30

Daily Dime blurb on Will Bynum

I wrote a little something on Will Bynum for today’s Daily Dime (No. 8 item). An excerpt:

With his ability to drive to the basket, he’s often Detroit’s go-to player down the stretch. If the NBA’s stars pass on the dunk contest again, Bynum should be considered for the event. And he’s doing all of this after going undrafted, playing in the NBDL and spending two seasons with Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Perhaps, most remarkable has been his improvement in Detroit. It seems like he’s shooting more efficiently and passing, rebounding and defending better each day.

Unfortunately for Detroit, the 26-year-old is a free agent this summer, and it’s tough to see the Pistons resigning him.

Check out today’s Daily Dime (No. 8 item) for the entire story.

John Kuester starting to evoke memories of Michael Curry

Really, the Pistons’ game in Phoenix last night was barely winnable going in.

  • Detroit was coming off an overtime loss in Utah the night before, and the game was its fifth in eight nights in five different cities.
  • The Suns are one of the NBA’s top teams.
  • And Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are still out.

So obviously, the Pistons lost. You can’t get upset about them dropping this one. But 117-91?

The game featured all the negative signs the Pistons showed the rest of their four-game West Coast trip. The only difference was there was no massive comeback at the end to cover them up.

I’ve harped on this before, and I’m not going to stop. The Pistons are in total disarray when the game speeds up. Their defense is slow getting back, and their offense looks rattled. Their records show it:

Games when the pace (possessions per 48 minutes) is below 84: 3-0.

Games when the paces is above 85: 2-9.

The pace of last night’s game was 86 – pretty slow, especially considering the Suns are so prone to running. But not slow enough.

So, what’s going wrong?

Michael Curry struggled last year in large part because of the Chauncey Billups-for-Allen Iverson trade. It wasn’t just that Iverson wasn’t as good as Billups. Curry made a plan before the season about how to run the team. After the trade, the plan was void, and Curry didn’t know how to react.

I don’t know if John Kuester has as rigid of a plan as Curry. But it’s looking like it. Detroit clearly has deficiencies when the pace is high. The Pistons need to run more to get accustomed to this style of play.

Kuester agrees – with a caveat. He wants to run more once Hamilton and Prince return, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. But who knows when that will be? The Pistons, losers of five straight, can’t afford to toss away all these games waiting.

There’s no need to panic, but one of two things need to happen for the Pistons to get back on track: Hamilton and Prince return or Kuester becomes a better coach.

I’m not sure if it’s smart to bank on either happening soon.

Advanced statistics

Number in parentheses represent where the game’s rating would rank among NBA teams’ season totals.

Offensive rating: 105.8 (17th)

Defensive rating: 136.0 (31st)

Pace: 86.0 (31st)

Chat tonight on Daily Dime Live

I’ll be chatting on Daily Dime Live during tonight’s game (at Phoenix, 8 p.m.). It’s always a good time, so join in.

Broussard: Chicago adjusting to life without Ben Gordon

Remember Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s quote about the team’s decision not to make a long-term commitment to Ben Gordon? You know, when he claimed that the Gordon’s return to the team would have resulted in less playing time for him? How about the revelation that they withdrew an offer which Gordon was said to have accepted? It’s seem as if he’s beginning to regret both decisions.

In today’s Daily Dime TV segment, ESPN’s Chris Broussard reveals that Chicago point guard Derrick Rose blames his early-season struggles on more than just his sore ankle (starts at 6:00):

As Broussard points out, the entire Bulls squad necessarily misses Gordon – any team would be stunted on offense after seeing their leading scorer from the past four straight seasons walk, without adding another weapon to take up the slack. Their scoring has dropped twenty spots (from 8th to 28th). And Gordon is having a career year so far, averaging 22 points per game.

It’s a young season so far, and there’s a lot of time for both numbers to change. But one thing is clear: Chicago is definitely missing Ben Gordon.

Did the Detroit Pistons stumble into a new lineup?

I was inclined to write about how similar the Pistons’ 87-81 loss at Portland last night was to Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers. Really, the game played out nearly the same way.

  • The Pistons hung around early.
  • During the second and third quarters, they showed how overmatched they will be on this road trip.
  • They made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter, but came up short.

But this loss has the potential to mean more.

In the fourth quarter, Pistons coach John Kuester brought in a pretty unconventional lineup. I don’t think he thought much about how the players would fit together. He just wanted to get some end-of-the-bench guys playing time. Here are the six players who primarily played in the fourth quarter:

  • Rodney Stuckey (6-foot-5)
  • Jonas Jerebko (6-foot-10)
  • DaJuan Summers (6-foot-8)
  • Austin Daye (6-foot-11)
  • Charlie Villanueva (6-foot-11)
  • Ben Wallace (6-foot-9)

That’s a ridiculously tall lineup, especially considering Detroit doesn’t have a single 7-footer. It was the opposite of the small ball the Pistons have been playing at many times this year. But it solved a lot of problems.

A lot of Portland’s success came from shooting short jumpers over Detroit’s smaller players. Those jumpers stopped falling in the fourth.

Did this lineup’s height make those shots tougher, or was Portland just caught off guard?

The Trail Blazers moved the ball very well the first three quarters. But down the stretch, the Pistons intercepted a few passes and forced a shot-clock violation.

Did this lineup’s length force a lot of turnovers, or was Portland just caught off guard?

For most of the game, Detroit lacked fluidity on offense. But this lineup did a good job of moving the ball inside and out.

Did this lineup’s versatility open up the offense, or was Portland just caught off guard?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. Maybe it’s all about the Trail Blazers having a 20-point lead and losing focus when the Pistons went outside the box late. I just don’t know.

But if I’m Kuester, I’m putting this lineup or a similar one out there again to find out.

Advanced statistics

Number in parentheses represent where the game’s rating would rank among NBA teams’ season totals.

Offensive rating: 101.9 (26th)

Defensive rating: 109.4 (22nd)

Pace: 79.5 (31st)

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at Portland Trail Blazerrs

Essentials

Date: Nov. 18, 2009

Time: 10:00 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit Plus

Records

Detroit: 5-5

Portland: 7-3

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Rodney
Stuckey

Ben
Gordon

Jonas
Jerebko

Charlie
Villanueva

Ben
Wallace

Portland:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

 

Andre
Miller

Steve
Blake

Brandon
Roy

LaMarcus
Aldridge

Greg
Oden

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +10.5

Over/under: 179

Score: Portland wins, 95-84

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 106.2 (16th)

Detroit defensive rating: 105.7 (16th)

Detroit pace: 87.8 (29th)

Portland offensive rating: 107.2 (14th)

Portland defensive rating: 99.0 (2nd)

Portland pace: 88.2 (28th)

Score: Portland wins, 94-90

Outlook

Most of my thoughts on this game are covered in my review of last night’s loss to the Lakers. Simply, Detroit can’t handle this road trip right now – not with Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince still out, the growing pains of a revamped roster and the tough competition.

But here are a couple other points for tonight’s game.

Why the Pistons might have a chance: Portland is 28th in pace. The Pistons are 3-0 in their three slowest games this year. They’re 1-5 in their six slowest.

Why the Pistons don’t have a chance: As noted by Henry Abbott today, the numbers show Portland is really, really good. John Hollinger’s rankings show it, and so does David Berri’s analysis.

The Pistons are also 0-3 in the second game of back-to-backs, which tonight will be. The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, didn’t play yesterday.

And like the Lakers last night, Portland is coming off a loss and will be hungry.

Yeah, I’d say the reasons the Pistons are toast outweigh the reasons they’re not.

  • I’ll be chatting during the game at Daily Dime Live. It’s always fun to do, so check it out.