Archive → December, 2009
I was naive.
I was really excited for the Pistons-Lakers game last night. Like many fan bases around the league, I think it’s always a big game against L.A. And I tried to talk myself into believe the Pistons had a chance.
- The game was at home.
- The Lakers were in the tail end of a road trip and played in New Jersey the night before.
- And, well, I just wanted Detroit to win.
In hindsight, it wasn’t logical. At this point in the season, most teams are what they are.
The Lakers are very good. The Pistons, when so many of their top players continue to miss games to injury, are not. So, it shouldn’t have been surprising Los Angeles won, 93-81.
I can’t wait for Detroit to be at the level where games like this are winnable, but we’re not there yet. That’s just part of the rebuilding process.
There’s no reason to panic – even though straight off winning five games in a row, Detroit has lost four straight.
The Pistons aren’t in a tailspin. They’re just ebbing and flowing with their schedule, like mediocre teams do.
Combined record of opponents during their winning streak: 52-79 (.397).
Combined record of opponents during their losing streak: 63-42 (.600).
Number of home games during their winning streak: four (80 percent)
Number of home games during their losing streak: one (25 percent)
You just can’t take learn from this game, especially because the Lakers built a 15-point lead with 10:14 left in the second quarter. The game was basically over at that point.
So, we didn’t get to figure out much about the biggest drama facing the team right now.
John Kuester calls out Rodney Stuckey
If you haven’t seen it by now, Pistons coach John Kuester took a shot at Rodney Stuckey after Detroit’s loss to the Thunder on Friday. Need4Sheed has video of this:
Reporter: “Stuckey continuing to play a high level regardless.”
Kuester: “Uh (looks away, pauses, then back toward reporter), he scored points.”
After the next question took Kuester off topic, the coach expressed disappointment in Stuckey’s leadership, and a little indirectly, his body language.
On top of the Lakers leading big most of the game, Stuckey picked up his second foul 4:36 into the game and came out. So, it was tough to gauge his play.
He was a team-best plus 10, but that was probably influenced by him being on the bench while the Lakers were playing hard early. He also didn’t have any turnovers in 27 minutes, but only one assist.
And not that Kuester necessarily cares, but Stuckey led Detroit with 16 points.
Sorry for the slow posting this week. But there has been some great Pistons content this week. In particular, make sure you read these three articles, each about a certain player:
Mike Payne of Detroit Bad Boys breaks down advanced statistics and determines Villanueva is on the most underrated, if not just plain best, inside players in the league:
To put that in greater context, Charlie Villanueva’s 68.3% (field goal percentage on inside shots this season) would have outranked any other power forward in the game last season, with the next closest performance coming out of Amar’e Stoudemire with 65.8% inside shooting (note that Stoudemire spent much of his playing time at the 5).
It appears that Joe Dumars has discovered a one-of-a-kind post talent in Villanueva, a player whose market interest this summer was less-than-electrifying. Why credit Dumars with the discovery? Last season, Charlie’s inside scoring was less-than-remarkable, converting at 53.4% while showing cause for serious concern on the other end of the floor. While Villanueva’s primary season averages are not entirely different than last year, Dumars has once again shown the virtue of placing misunderstood talent in a situation where it can truly prosper.
Fifteen years later, during Bynum’s sophomore year in high school, Rose married Robinson. Bynum said his dad was the father of four of his eight siblings.
"It was one of the happiest times of my life," Bynum said. "Growing up, you never see moms and dads together. That was really big for me to have my biological father to be there. It was critical for me. They got married, and they stayed together."
Robinson died of cancer in the summer of 2007. Bynum said his father worked in a steel factory and, before he was diagnosed, he’d come home in so much pain that Rose would massage his feet and back to try to make him feel better.
"My mom, actually, never saw me play until my senior year of high school," Bynum said. "It was one of those, like, dream moments when she was there. I’d look over to the sidelines and saw my mom crying through the whole game. I had to keep looking away because I needed to focus and be a man for the moment."
Before last Saturday’s game against Golden State, Jerebko and fellow rookie Austin Daye were playfully chiding one another for showing up to a mall wearing the same sweater. When Daye was asked if he gave Jerebko fashion advice, Jerebko cut him off.
"I spent two years in Italy," he said. "I give him advice."
Finally, a note to the Pistons beat writers: please read these last two articles and learn from them. We fans want to go beneath the surface and learn more about the players than how many assists they’ve averaged in the last five games. Give us insights into their personalities and anecdotes about them.
Date: Dec. 12, 2009
Time: 8:30 p.m.
Television: Fox Sports Detroit
Las Vegas projection
Spread: Detroit +5
Score: Houston wins, 97-92
Detroit offensive rating: 106.2 (19th)
Detroit defensive rating: 107.2 (17th)
Detroit pace: 87.9 (29th)
Houston offensive rating: 107.1 (15th)
Houston defensive rating: 105.6 (13th)
Score: Detroit wins, 97-96
The good news for Detroit: Trevor Ariza is suspended for tonight’s game after he connected with a forearm to Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan.
The bad news: Rick Adelman’s complaint about the Rockets’ schedule being too tough doesn’t apply to this game – at least not directly. Tonight’s game is the first of four sets of back-to-backs in the next four weeks. So, Houston still should be good to go tonight.
The questionable news: Ben Gordon and Will Bynum will be game-time decisions, according to The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan.
Today’s quiz is about players who’ve won the Slam Dunk Competition.
My score: 21/24
From an NBA release:
NEW YORK, Dec. 14, 2009 – The Detroit Pistons’ Rodney Stuckey today was named the NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, Dec. 7, through Sunday, Dec. 13.
Stuckey led the Pistons to a 3-0 week, averaging 27.0 points on .529 shooting from the field, 6.0 assists, 2.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals. On Dec. 12, Stuckey led the Pistons with a season-high 29 points and added seven assists, helping Detroit to its fifth straight victory, a 104-95 win over Golden State. On Dec. 9 at Philadelphia, Stuckey led all scorers with 27 points, including the game-winning field goal with 8.7 seconds remaining.
Here is a recap of the week for Stuckey:
Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons
Dec. 9 @ Philadelphia: Posted 27 points, eight assists and five rebounds in a 90-86 win over the 76ers.
Dec. 10 vs. Denver: Scored 25 points to go along with three assists and two steals in a 101-99 win over the Nuggets.
Dec. 12 vs. Golden State: Tallied 29 points, seven assists and two rebounds in a 104-95 win over the Warriors.
Other nominees for the Eastern Player of the Week were Cleveland’s LeBron James and Toronto’s Chris Bosh.
Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell sent my a good idea last night. Pistons fans should use Jonas Brothers shirts into honor Detroit’s latest favorite, Jonas Jerebko.
A good deal would only be good for female fans:
But plenty would fit either gender:
For what it’s worth, Tim’s choice: “Jonas Owns My Heart.”
Date: Dec. 12, 2009
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Television: Fox Sports Detroit
Golden State: 7-15
Las Vegas projection
Spread: Detroit -6
Score: Detroit wins, 106-100
Detroit offensive rating: 106.0 (19th)
Detroit defensive rating: 107.6 (20th)
Detroit pace: 87.5 (30th)
Golden State offensive rating: 105.7 (20th)
Score: Detroit wins, 102-101
UPDATE: Richard Hamilton is active tonight, according to Dave Pemberton of The Oakland Press.
The Warriors are playing their fourth game of a road trip, and they played last night. I think this the type of game that will be vey tough for them to win.
Also, Mikki Moore is their starting center. Really?
But they play at the league’s fastest pace, which could give Detroit trouble.
I’ll admit, I’m pretty distracted from this game. I’m celebrating a couple friends’ graduations tonight, and I’ve been very interested in this Heisman race. I just wanted to share a couple thoughts on it.
1. Mark Ingram, Alabama, running back
2. Toby Gerhart, Stanford, running back
3. Colt McCoy, Texas, quarterback
4. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, defensive tackle
5. Tim Tebow, Florida, quarterback
If I had a vote:
1. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, defensive tackle
2. Colt McCoy, Texas, quarterback
3. Rolando McClain, Alabama, linebacker
If you’re looking for more coverage of last night’s game, there’s plenty in today’s Daily Dime.
I wrote about the Pistons’ flexibility (No. 2). An excerpt:
Dumars actively sought versatile players when remaking the team last summer, and that’s helped the Pistons (10-12) remain competitive while Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince have missed a combined 40 games this season.
It also led to some early hiccups for the Pistons, who lost seven straight earlier this year. The roster presents many possibilities, and it took time to find the right combinations.
Jeremy Wagner of Roundball Mining Company wrote about the Nuggets’ history of being a poor road team (No. 4), Chauncey Billups agreed (No. 5), and Charlie Villanueva matched a Jerry Stackhouse feat. (No. 9).
And you can even relive the in-game chat (No. 3).
Judging by the amount of attention that game got, the Pistons are back. Either that, or there were just three games last night.
Chucky Atkins shoots against the Denver Nuggets. (Robin Buckson/The Detroit News)
“If he plays regular minutes, there’s a problem.”
That’s what I wrote in Chucky Atkins’ player preview just more than a month ago.
Boy, was I wrong.
Atkins played brilliantly in the Pistons’ 101-99 win over the Nuggets last night. If there was ever an argument against Joe Dumars’ philosophy of having two scoring guards, this was it.
Sure, Atkins shot just 2-of-10 for nine points. But he orchestrated the offense masterfully, which is why he was a game-high plus-10. He had a lot to do with the many impressive feats by the Pistons’ offense.
- Charlie Villanueva scored 27 points, showing an impressive mix of inside and outside play.
- Rodney Stuckey scored 25 points and looked comfortable as a shooting guard .
- Detroit shot a season-high 41 free-throws (including 4-of-4 by Atkins).
Atkins also had a knack for making plays when the Pistons needed them most.
- He had two steals in short period in the second quarter that helped give the Pistons a little separation.
- He hit a 3-pointer when the Nuggets tied the game late in the third quarter.
- And he made a pair of free throws with 3:36 left that took the lead from Denver for good.
He took three more shots after those free throws, too. Many have made joked that, with Atkins starting, it feels like 2001. But if Atkins is Detroit’s go-to player down the stretch, I don’t want to know what year it is. I want to know what planet we’re on.
Heart is contagious
Atkins missed those final three shots, including the final one when Detroit led by two and could’ve taken the clock down four more seconds, leaving four seconds left. But the Pistons won anyway because they made so many effort plays.
- Ben Wallace had 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
- Jonas Jerebko had 12 points, eight rebounds and a steal.
- DaJuan Summers even came off the bench to get a fourth-quarter steal and block – both off Carmelo Anthony, who scored 40 points. Summers hit a big 3-pointer, too.
I’ve said that I’ve always felt bad for Atkins because he did everything the Pistons asked of him in his first stint in Detroit. He just wasn’t good enough to hold the starting job when they signed Chauncey Billups.
But Atkins remained a true professional, and he still is. That’s why he made the team this year against all odds. Dumars wanted the influence of the 11-year pro.
And I think last night was a perfect example of Atkins’ attitude rubbing off.
An impressive win, but…
I hope Atkins enjoys this win – especially since it came against Billups, who pushed him out of Detroit six season ago.
In his postgame press conference, Detroit coach John Kuester talked about the Pistons’ “courage” and called the game a “gutsy win.”
The Pistons won the second game of a back-to-back for the first time in six tries this season. And they did it with Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Ben Gordon and Will Bynum all out due to injury.
It’s easy to get caught up in how the odds were stacked against Detroit.
But Kenyon Martin was out for Denver. And the Nuggets were playing their final game of a four-game, six-day road trip. The last game of a road trip against the opposite conference might be one of the toughest games to win in the NBA.
Denver is a good team, and Detroit’s win streak is four games. But this was hardly season-defining.
On the other hand, it’s nice being in a position to find faults in wins.
Date: Dec. 9, 2009
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Television: Fox Sports Detroit
Las Vegas projection
Spread: Detroit +7
Score: Denver wins, 103-96
Detroit offensive rating: 105.7 (21st)
Detroit defensive rating: 107.5 (19th)
Detroit pace: 87.4 (30th)
Denver offensive rating: 113.5 (2nd)
Score: Denver wins, 101-97
The Pistons have won three in a row, but their opponents in those games are a combined 22-40. Denver presents a real test to see if Detroit has figured out how to succeed without Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.
And, of course, Chauncey Billups returns to the Palace again. That won’t make anything easier for Detroit.