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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)


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  • Nov 19, 20091:59 pm
    by Vic De Zen


    It seems this time is more versatile than anyone gave them credit for. They’ve had some success going super-small and super-big.

  • Nov 19, 20098:19 pm
    by Tim


    As a Portland fan, it was unnerving to see them cough up the ball or miss a shot time after time down the stretch, especially after virtually owning the Pistons the first three quarters. Out here we don’t see the Pistons much. It’ll be interesting to see if that experimental line-up is adhered to in the future. The Blazers lost 3 of their first 5 and went to a 3-guard line-up which garnered them 6 straight wins before losing a close one in Atlanta…interesting to see the various tweaking around the league this year.

  • Nov 19, 200910:47 pm
    by shawn brown


    i really feel that coach q may be on to something , i also like the fact , that although they have lost  the past two games , there seems to be no quit in this team when compared to last year.     if they could come out with a bit more fluidity on offense during the third quarter they  may find themselves with two big wins instead of close losses

  • [...] Daye would give the Pistons a ridiculously long starting lineup — and considering how much success Big Ball in spurts against the Trail Blazers, I’m curious to see it in action, especially against L.A.’s brawny backcourt of Baron [...]

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