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Archive → January, 2010

Maybe the writers are talking a little too much on press row

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

You don’t expect Hakeem Olajuwon impersonations from Ben Wallace.

But that’s what you got midway through the third quarter Monday when Wallace nailed a turnaround, fade-away jumper along the left baseline over a Knicks defender.

Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News:

Late in the third quarter, with the Pistons on an 8-0 run that gave them the lead, Wallace was calling for the ball on the low block. With a defender on his back, Wallace made a strong move, stepped back and arched a beautiful jumper that gave the Pistons a 68-64 lead.

Someone remarked about how that particular play looked like something from Hakeem Olajuwon’s heyday.

Game Review: Ben Wallace and Rodney Stuckey need help, but it’s probably on the way only for the latter

Well, Rodney Stuckey and Ben Wallace aren’t Shaq and Kobe.

That’s obviously not a surprise. Despite how well the played today, they aren’t supposed to be.

But a 99-91 loss to the Knicks happens when they’re asked to be.

Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Will Bynum all missed the game with injuries. Wilcox missed the second half with an injury, too.

That considered, it took excellent performances by Wallace and Stuckey for the Pistons to even remain close.

Wallace scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. His plus-seven was tied for best on the team.

Stuckey had 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Although he had four turnovers, I thought he did a pretty good job of running the offense.

So how do the Pistons get those two some help?

Backup big man

Charlie Villanueva (16 points) and Jason (Maxiell 13 points) were fine offensively. But they were embarrassing defensively.

As I’ve written before, the Pistons struggle when Wallace is on the bench — especially their interior defense.

The Villanueva-Maxiell combo was so bad … how bad was it? … I missed Wilcox’s defense inside.

There are three ways this problem could be fixed minimized:

1. Wilcox recovers. No word on his status yet.

2. Kwame Brown gets more minutes. For whatever reason, this doesn’t seem likely to happen.

3. Detroit acquires another big man via trade or a 10-day contract.

As you can see, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon.

More scoring

This one is a little easier of a fix.

Stuckey matched a season high with 26 shots (making eight). But how can you blame him too much? Someone had to shoot.

With Gordon, Hamilton, Prince and Bynum out, the Pistons were low on competent offensive weapons. When those four return, I still think Detroit’s offense can be pretty good.

I’m getting tired of blaming the Pistons’ woes on injuries. But I’m more tired of the injuries.

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at New York Knicks

Essentials

Date: Jan. 18, 2010

Time: 1 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 14-25

New York: 16-24

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Chucky
Atkins

Rodney
Stuckey

Jonas
Jerebko

Chris
Wilcox

Ben
Wallace

New York:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Chris
Duhon

Wilson
Chandler

Danilo
Gallinari

Jared
Jeffries

David
Lee

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +7

Over/under: 192

Score: New York wins, 100-93

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.7 (24th)

Detroit defensive rating: 109.2 (22nd)

Detroit pace: 88.4 (29th)

New York offensive rating: 106.1 (20th)

New York defensive rating: 107.7 (18th)

New York pace: 93.8 (9th)

Score: New York wins, 98-96

Outlook

UPDATE: Richard Hamilton will miss the game with a stomach ailment, according to Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News.

Most looked at this as the Pistons’ last chance to get into the playoff race. I didn’t necessarily agree, but so far, so good for Detroit.

The Pistons are 2-0 to begin their stretch of having eight of nine games at home. Today is the only road game, and it’s against a very beatable Knicks team.

But it will be tough for Detroit to extend its three-game winning streak, and I think David Lee will be the main reason.

Lee is averaging 28.0 points (.579 field-goal percentage), 14.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists in two games against the Pistons year.

Oh, and the Pistons best interior defender, Ben Wallace, is 35 and is coming off the three-game stretch with the most minutes he’s played all season.

Doesn’t look promising for that matchup – and thusly, the game.

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons vs. New Orleans Hornets

Essentials

Date: Jan. 15, 2010

Time: 8 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Detroit: 12-25

New Orleans: 20-17

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Rodney
Stuckey

Richard
Hamilton

Jonas
Jerebko

Chris
Wilcox

Ben
Wallace

New Orleans:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Chris
Paul

Devin
Brown

Peja
Stojakovic

David
West

Emeka
Okafor

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +2

Over/under: 192

Score: New Orleans wins, 97-95

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.6 (24th)

Detroit defensive rating: 109.7 (23rd)

Detroit pace: 88.3 (29th)

New Orleans offensive rating: 106.7 (16th)

New Orleans defensive rating: 108.3 (20th)

New Orleans pace: 91.8 (20th)

Score: New Orleans wins, 97-95

Outlook

After the team’s first win in a month (seriously, look at a calendar … I’ll wait … ), Detroit finally has a chance to get a different kind of streak going. But it won’t be easy. The last time the Pistons played New Orleans, they unraveled down the stretch, blowing a 13-point half-time lead. Though it was on the road, they lost to a sub-.500 Hornets team still trying to find its identity only a month after coach Byron Scott’s firing.

Fast forward to today. The Hornets have won seven of their last eight, and the Pistons, well, their recent struggles have been well documented on this site. The good news though, is that New Orleans has had some minor troubles of their own. They’re 5-14 on the road this year and are in the middle of playing five of eight games away from home.

The Pistons, meanwhile, have eight of their next nine contests at The Palace, with their lone trip to visit the less-than-stellar New York Knicks. After resting for a couple of days, they have a chance to rebound in a big way during this home stand and prove that they can be a playoff team. A win tonight would give them a great start to doing just that.

  • As always, you can check out Daily Dime Live to chat during tonight’s game.
  • The Friday Trade Idea will be delayed until early next week

Isiah Thomas’s mother, Mary Thomas, dies at 87

Mary Thomas, the mother of Isiah Thomas, died today at 87, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Like so many Pistons fans, I’d heard this story, which was depicted in made-for-TV movie:

The movie also told about the time a gang showed up on the family’s doorstep eager to recruit the Thomas boys. Mary Thomas, however, pointed her shotgun at them and threatened to blow them across the expressway. She explained that there was only one gang in that house, the Thomas gang.

Transition game makes Richard Hamilton and Rodney Stuckey more valuable to the Detroit Pistons

What a time for a two-day break.

After snapping a 13-game losing streak with a 99-90 win over Washington last night, the Pistons can extend their newfound good feelings without the risk of a loss.

And selfishly, I’m swamped at work, so posting will be light the next couple days. But I want to share a quick thought from watching last night’s game.

The Pistons really do need to run more

I’d love to see the Pistons’ offensive rating on possessions when Richard Hamilton or Rodney Stuckey has the ball inside 15 feet with at least 15 seconds left on the shot clock.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is probably the only person who knows, but I’d bet it’s sky high. When those two guards get near the basket that quickly, they’re excellent at creating – for themselves and teammates.

And the best way for them to get in that position: running the ball.

Hamilton can’t penetrate well against a set defense. Stuckey can, but he doesn’t distribute well against a set defense.

Both can get obviously make the short jumper in this situation, especially Hamilton. Hamilton also has underrated on-guard skills, which he learned under Larry Brown.

When Hamilton or Stuckey hold the ball five feet behind the 3-point arc, the Pistons are easy to defend. So why not try to run to get easier looks?

If it doesn’t work, Stuckey or Hamilton can just kick the ball out to the other and run the usual offense.

Game Preview: Detroit Pistons at Washington Wizards

Essentials

Date: Jan. 12, 2010

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit Plus

Records

Detroit: 11-25

Washington: 12-23

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Rodney
Stuckey

Richard
Hamilton

Jonas
Jerebko

Chris
Wilcox

Ben
Wallace

Washington:

PG

SG

SF

PF

C

Randy
Foye

Nick
Young

Caron
Butler

Antawn
Jamison

Brendan
Haywood

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +5

Over/under: 199

Score: Washington wins, 102-97

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 103.2 (24th)

Detroit defensive rating: 109.7 (24th)

Detroit pace: 88.4 (29th)

Washington offensive rating: 105.1 (22nd)

Washington defensive rating: 109.0 (21st)

Washington pace: 94.2 (8th)

Score: Washington wins, 98-97

Outlook

If the Pistons win tonight, they’ll avoid matching a franchise-record 14-game losing streak. But let’s set our expectations at a more reasonable level.

If Detroit loses by just one, it won’t be the worst of its 14-game losing streaks.

So far, the Pistons have lost their last 13 games by an average of 14.4 points. In 1994, they lost 14 games by an average of 13.5 points per game.

(They also lost 14 straight by 12.6 per game in 1980.)

The Wizards aren’t very good, and they’re in a bit of disarray with Gilbert Arenas suspended for … as Detroit fans would understand it … playing with metal or bringing his “click-clack” to work.

So, when Caron Butler hits that jumper at the buzzer to give Washington the win and break your heart, don’t fret. That’s a victory over the 1994 losing streak.

And that would be more win than the Pistons have had in the last month.

  • Head to Daily Dime Live to chat during the game. I’m going to try to stop by, but it will probably only be for part of the game.

This is why Joe Dumars is a good general manager

This is why Joe Dumars is a good general manager:

Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Former first-round draft pick Sean Williams has been waived by the New Jersey Nets.

Nets president Rod Thorn released the 17th overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft on Monday.

Williams, a 6-foot-10 forward out of Boston College, averaged 4.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 126 career games. He saw limited action in 20 games this season, averaging 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds.

Dumars easily could’ve drafted Williams if Detroit’s pick in that draft was a two spots lower. The Pistons don’t get credit for avoiding this bust. They certainly haven’t been immune to poor draft choices:

  • Darko Milicic (No. 2 in 2003)
  • Rodney White (No. 9 in 2001)
  • Mateen Cleaves (No. 14 in 2000)

But Dumars fixed all those mistakes.

  • He turned Milicic into Rodney Stuckey.
  • He flipped White into a first-round pick that was used to acquire Rasheed Wallace.
  • And he turned Cleaves into another first-round pick and Jon Barry, a valuable cog in making the Pistons a winner early last decade.

Dumars didn’t just let their value deteriorate and cut them two years later. Drafting Williams was a mistake by the Nets. Being in the position to cut him yesterday was another mistake – one Dumars wouldn’t have made.

Tuesday Trivia: Alma maters of NBA players

This week’s quiz is about the colleges NBA players attended.

My Score: 36/40

Warning: Spoilers in the comments.

Detroit Pistons should run more, even if it leads to more losses like last night’s to the Chicago Bulls in the short term

Let’s start with this: the Pistons are amazingly bad right now.

After a 120-87 loss to the Bulls last night, Detroit’s 13th straight defeat, it’s tough to find ways this team can get back on track. The Pistons’ defense was so bad, at times, I couldn’t even tell who was supposed to be defending the Chicago shooter.

But maybe, just maybe, there was a silver lining in the game.

It’s not a quick fix. In fact, it might make the losing streak more likely to continue. But it could help the Pistons in the long-term.

Increasing the tempo might make Rodney Stuckey a quality point guard.

You can argue all you want about whether the Pistons should’ve signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva or drafted Austin Daye. But in Dumars’ plan, those seem to be peripheral moves.

The real centerpiece of the franchise’s rebuilding is Stuckey’s development.

I think this team was built on Stuckey being Detroit’s best player. Gordon, Villanueva and Daye would be role players if all goes to plan. Dumars definitely sees something in Stuckey.

Of course, that plan can change. But last night’s loss might have been an indication Plan A will still work.

Stuckey the point guard

Stuckey has played his best this season at shooting guard next to Chucky Atkins. Many thought the Pistons would be better off shifting to Plan B: building around Stuckey as a shooting guard – or even Plan C: trading Stuckey.

But he showed a good deal of point guard skill in last night’s loss. Before the game, Stuckey said the Pistons would run more, and they did. Their 95 possessions were well above their season average of 91.4.

Stuckey, who’s struggled at times with decision-making, looked much more comfortable in the faster tempo.

He had five assists in 30 minutes, which doesn’t really stand out. But four of those led to baskets near the rim, according to Hoop Data. That’s the second-most assists leading to a close basket per 36 minutes Stuckey has had this year.

I’d say that statistic is more telling about how good a job Stuckey did at setting up his teammates than just simple assists.

Stuckey also had a turnover rate of 10.4, which was below his season average (11.3).

He wasn’t Jason Kidd or Steve Nash. But he wasn’t … searching for a point guard who doesn’t facilitate his team’s offense well … um … Rodney Stuckey.

The short-term downside

Early in the game, it seemed like every time Stuckey touched the ball, he pushed the tempo. And it seemed every possession that went through Richard Hamilton ended with the shot clock running down.

If the Pistons commit to running right now, there will be some problems. The awkward mix of players who are adept at running and those who aren’t might confuse opposing defenses. But if last night’s game is any indication, it will confuse the Pistons more.

A lot of the team is used to playing at a snail’s pace, especially Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince. Prince sat out this game with an injury, but when he returns, the Pistons will probably be even more resistant to running.

But, at this point, the immediate issues probably wouldn’t even be noticed. What are they going to do, lose another 13 games in a row?

At least this might give their long-term plan of building around Stuckey at point guard its best chance of succeeding. If running fails, well, what is there to lose?