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Fourth quarter rally spurred by Tracy McGrady falls short in overtime in Pistons loss to Bulls

Two games into the latest turn in the Detroit Pistons’ shooting guard drama, the answer at the position might not be Ben Gordon or Rip Hamilton.

Tracy McGrady‘s performances continue to get better and better, and in Sunday’s overtime 95-92 loss to the Chicago Bulls, it was McGrady who helped the Pistons tie the game with a fourth quarter flurry.

McGrady either scored or assisted on 16 of Detroit’s 28 fourth quarter points as the team outscored Chicago 28-17 to erase a double-digit second half lead.

Early in the season, McGrady was not getting any lift in his jumper. Over the last few weeks, however, his shot has returned and in the fourth quarter against the Bulls, 11 of his 13 points came on jumpers 16-feet out or beyond. It was the third time in the last five games McGrady has scored more than 15 points and he’s shooting well over 50 percent in that stretch.

Gordon, meanwhile, had his second straight quiet game since being given the starting job over Hamilton, although he did shoot it better this time, going 3-for-6 against the Bulls as opposed to 1-for-7 against Toronto. Hamilton was solid, scoring 15 off the bench on 6-of-14 shooting.

But even at their best, Hamilton and Gordon are only going to give the team scoring. McGrady, even a step slower than previously in his career, is still the best and most willing playmaker on the Pistons. When he’s in the game, the ball moves better, there’s more movement by players who don’t have the ball and McGrady rarely takes a bad shot that’s not within the flow of the offense. Hamilton, Gordon, Rodney Stuckey and even Will Bynum have a tendency to take really poor shots on occasion that disrupt the offense when they’re in the game. Hamilton and Gordon will never be the passers or playmakers McGrady is showing he can still be from the perimeter.

McGrady’s purpose on the Pistons is unclear, as it has been from the moment the team signed him. The Pistons didn’t really have a spot for him. But what is becoming crystal clear is the fact that McGrady, whether he has a future in Detroit or not, is steadily becoming the best player on the team. If John Kuester is truly thinking about wins and playoffs as the means to save his job, I don’t know how much longer he can afford to play McGrady in a limited role.

Villanueva hitting the boards

After a pretty bad start to the season rebounding (at least by traditional power forward standards), Charlie Villanueva is picking up the pace a bit. Villanueva sent the game to overtime with a tip-in of a Hamilton miss with less than a second remaining and he finished with 10 boards in the game. He’s averaging eight a game over his last five, and although those certainly aren’t elite defensive big man numbers, they’re certainly another positive sign for the one Piston who has shown drastic improvement from last year both in production and effort on the court. Villanueva has consistently had the best attitude of any Piston this season, and he continues to prove that his signing wasn’t the mistake many thought it was at this time a year ago.

But the bad news …

I can’t praise the rebounding, even of an individual player, too much considering Bulls point guard Derrick Rose had more boards than any Piston with 12. The Pistons frontcourt also continued its tradition of giving up a huge game to an interior player. Carlos Boozer torched them for 31 points. Boozer is just the latest in the line of David Wests, David Lees, Joakim Noahs, Andrea Bargnani’s, etc. who have met little resistance in the paint this season.

On deck

This could be another stretch that buries the Pistons further under the .500 mark (not that it matters in the East, where winning 36 percent of your games could get you in the playoffs). After facing Charlotte tomorrow, the Pistons are home against Boston, then at Phoenix, at Utah and at the Lakers. Unless they get the Bobcats, this could turn into another prolonged losing streak pretty quickly.

13 Comments

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Patrick Hayes. Patrick Hayes said: From @PistonPowered: Fourth quarter rally spurred by Tracy McGrady falls short in overtime in Pistons loss to Bulls http://bit.ly/gIiEQS [...]

  • Dec 27, 20102:34 am
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    @Patrick
    How about we trade Rip for an old washing machine or de-activate him and start T-Mac at SG. Then bring Gordon back off the bench. Also start Monroe at PF and bring CV off the bench. How many millions is that sitting on the bench again? I have no idea but that would have to be sort of NBA record for a benches salary. Sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad days being a pistons fan! :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-( :-(

  • Dec 27, 20108:12 am
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    i did not watch the game but i would make one comment – i have never seen Ben Gordon move without the ball except on the play called for him to curl up off the baseline screen. The boy does not move unless he already has the ball.

  • Dec 27, 201011:18 am
    by vic

    Reply

    I still think Monroe needs to start at PF. He could have got rebounds while Ben was checking Boozer. We could have put that game away in the 1st quarter.

    CV started rebounding a quarter or 2 too late.
    We need to put our biggest size in the starting front line.

  • Dec 27, 201011:41 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    I don’t have a problem with Monroe starting. They really need to figure out this season how much he’s going to help them in the long run — do they have an OK role player or a guy who can start and play 35 minutes a game at some point?
    But I also like seeing players who work hard and improve get rewarded. Villanueva has worked hard and improved, not to mention had a great attitude all season. His goal was to start at PF, and he’s clearly been their best PF. So from that perspective, with the team going nowhere, I’d prefer to see him get what he’s worked hard for and earned.

  • Dec 27, 201011:44 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @gmehl:
    They can’t de-activate him (ala Iverson) just yet. It’s pretty clear Rip is unhappy, but he’s also played two of his better games since going to the bench, unlike Iverson. If they take the step of deactivating him, even if the net positive would be more minutes for Gordon, Daye or McGrady, they are giving up. There’s still a chance, albeit a slim one, that he plays his way into convincing a contender he’s a good gamble. I’d rather see them ride things out until the trade deadline, then if nothing materializes with him, at that point they can consider more drastic actions.

  • Dec 27, 20101:22 pm
    by Alan

    Reply

    I thought Ben looked worked out there.  At times, he was offering defensive help because another Piston let his man drive by and then Wallace would alter a shot.  In the end, that left an open Bull to grab an easy rebound underneath the basket.  We all know that Detroit needs another big and I think its becoming the mark of the division.  With the following names of Bogut, Noah, Hibbert, and Varejao to compete with Detroit needs a marked improvement to compete down the road.

    McGrady is looking healthy.  I’m ready for an article that shows his mpg, PER, etc. and the trend too.  also, what the ceiling may be and how his play can affect Pistons games if we can get him near 30 mpg consistently.

  • Dec 27, 20103:22 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    t-mac is not ben wallace here. there’s a chance he can help the pistons BIG TIME in a trade. but he’s not good enough to help us win. he’s sort of like ben wallace in how much he contributes relative to his pay. if he keeps it up, he’s one of the best values in the league and could be helping championship contenders, but he’s not good enough to help us win right now. and it’s not like ben wallace, who is the one legitimate face of the franchise and just wants to play out his career here to cement his legacy and repair the damage of ever leaving. t-mac is not “A Piston” and can really do this team some good in trade.

  • Dec 27, 20104:29 pm
    by Ryan

    Reply

    Anybody think Rip would be a great pickup for Chicago?  I know it’s rare to trade inside the division but in this case it may work.  Chicago is starting Keith Bogans at sg, obviously they could use an upgrade.

    Rip and T-mac for a draft pick and Taj Gibson.

  • Dec 27, 20105:11 pm
    by jk281

    Reply

    Rip, T-Mac, and BG ALL would or would’ve been great pickups for CHI. They blew it on McGrady, and now they are looking foolish on that front. And for what they are paying Brewer, Korver, and Bogans combined, they could’ve just re-signed BG last year. IMO, the SG hole on that team is going to be their demise this year in the playoffs. How are Brewer and Korver supposed to matchup with the likes of Ray Allen, D-Wade, J. Richardson, Arenas, and Joe Johnon?

    I think adding Rip, T-Mac, or BG would put them up there on an even playing field with those elite teams. I wouldn’t be surprised if they became willing to offer up a few 1st round picks for some of our SG’s.

  • Dec 27, 20106:28 pm
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    If we trade T-mac then i am sure Chicago would want Arnie Kander thrown in to sweeten the deal more so than a 2nd round pick :-)

  • Dec 29, 201012:01 am
    by Jason

    Reply

    People still aren’t getting it.. Where was McGrady in the 4th? And quite giving me this BS about him “resting his knee, blah blah blah”
     
    They guy has proven he is ready.. He will get a nice 3 year deal, likely after this season. He is back, and anyone not seeing that this guy is the only reason we have been WINNING or ALMOST winning, is blind.
     
    Had McGrady actually been invloved in OT, we would have won this game.. Hell, he is the ONLY reason we made it to OT.
     
    Mcgrady is THE playmaker team – allow him to work his magic by inserting him into the starting lineup. If nothing else, we get to see what he is really about, in the chance that we are even considering offering him a contact after this season.
     
    The time is now – this team plays actual team ball (Minus the defense, it’s almost even Deeeeetroit baaaaasketball again_) ONLY when T-Mac is on the court.. .Look at Rip and T-Mac playing together… Stuckey needs to go.. We are 2-0 when Stuck has not played.. Sure, it’s a small number, but being we are losing 2 of every 3 games, i’m willing to make ANY move at this point to see some success.
     
    We picked up T-Mac because he was low risk, and at BEST we would maybe see a glimpse of what he used to be.. Well folks, i think it’s safe to say thus far, he has done just that. With limited minutes!
     
    Allow T-Mac to run is offense, what else do we have to lose? Allow Gordon and Rip, (Our TWO HIGHEST paid players) To play at the same time – ONLY possible if Stuckey is on the bench, and T-Mac is is the facilitator on offense – switching on defense.
     
    I’m sick of people shutting this lineup down, we are at the bottom of the league, and should be open to ANY options at this point..
     
    Starters:
    Gordon, RIP, T-Mac, Villanueva, Wallace
    2nd String:
    Bynum, Stuckey/Daye, Prince, Maxiell, Monroe/Wilcox
     
     

  • Dec 29, 201012:02 am
    by Jason

    Reply

    Sorry, i’ve had quite a few tonight.. lol. Meant to say “Where was McGrady in **OVERTIME**”
     
    Cheers!

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