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Richard Hamilton’s mission proves beneficial for himself and the Pistons

Richard Hamilton closed his postgame interview with Eli Zaret tonight the same way he’s ended hundreds of interviews – “Yessir!” But as Hamilton walked toward the locker room, something was missing. Unlike nearly all those previous Yessirs!, this one wasn’t paired with a smile.

This was all business.

I hope Hamilton can outwardly enjoy basketball again, but Hamilton On A Mission works right now. Hamilton On A Mission is the persona Rip needed to adapt now, and it’s the persona the Pistons need him to adapt now.

  • HOAM scored 35 points – more than any reserve has scored this season.*
  • HOAM deferred to Tracy McGrady at the right times.
  • HOAM sparked a 115-93 victory over the Raptors.

*Topping Ben Gordon’s mark of 32 against the Thunder

Those first two bullets really exemplify what’s great about HOAM.* He’s not on a mission to prove he can still produce. He’s on a mission to prove he can still produce enough to lead the Pistons to wins. Hamilton has forced too many shots this season, but he didn’t do that tonight. That might help him pad his numbers, but it won’t help the Pistons win, and HOAM was only interested in doing things that helped himself and the team.

*Not that the third isn’t important, but the Raptors played as poorly as I’ve seen a team play this season.

And boy was it a good thing HOAM was willing to play within the flow of the game, because he wasn’t even the best Piston tonight. That honor goes to McGrady.

McGrady had shown signs of this before, but they were only brief spurts – a few minutes here, a few minutes there. Tonight, he kept coming and coming. His second quarter buried the Raptors, and the game was never in doubt after halftime.

In just 24 minutes, McGrady had 17 points (8-of-12 shooting), seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals. As the Toronto crowd booed him, McGrady just played better. He even shot .500 for the first time as a visitor in Toronto. I’ve said this several times, and I’ve believed it each time, but this was McGrady’s best game as a Piston.

The offense runs so much smoother with McGrady in the game. He makes the right decision nearly every time, and now that he’s getting into better shape, he can parlay those correct decisions into points more often. There’s no doubt Hamilton benefited from playing almost all his minutes with McGrady – more so than McGrady benefited from playing with Hamilton.

But with all eyes on Hamilton, he delivered. McGrady’s performance was nice. Hamilton’s might be franchise-altering.

This was just one game, and there will be many more tests. But Hamilton can only meet the challenge in front of him, and he did that with flying colors tonight.


  • Dec 22, 201010:38 pm
    by Jacob


    I remember a game in 2009 against Milwaukee where Rip came off the bench and scored 38 in a win (interestingly Charlie V scored 33 for the Bucks). But then they went on an 8-game losing streak I think. I seem to remember Rip having a pretty good scoring average coming off the bench that year, but the team having a losing record when he came off the bench. I don’t know for sure, maybe one of you guys can research that and find out. Not that it would necessarily mean anything for this year’s team, but it would be interesting to know. Either way, great game tonight, a little revenge for what Toronto did at the Palace a few weeks ago.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Detroit Pistons. Detroit Pistons said: TrueHoop.com – Richard Hamilton’s mission proves beneficial for himself and the Pistons: http://bit.ly/i1ACWx [...]

  • Dec 22, 201011:41 pm
    by neutes


    i don’t even need to check back for more that opening was great. maybe it’s gordon that has the problem more so than rip. rip was back, gordon only took 7 shots, and only hit 1 of them. he didn’t get that chance to shoot his way into a rhythm. rip came out firing, and he was on. he’s had a few games like that this year and it’s still so much fun to witness some vintage rip. too bad that doesn’t happen often enough. i still believe for some reason that rip can still be rip as long as he’s focused and not sulky. gordon, i’m just not so sure about. i think he needs to think he’s the man in order to be focused and get into his rhythm. with rip there he always seems more tentative, whether it’s off the bench or starting, doesn’t seem to matter.

  • Dec 22, 201011:54 pm
    by bg8


    i think this will be a good rotation for the pistons. they now got scorer in the starting lineup with bg, cv, stuckey, prince and they should be able to hang with thier opponent starting line up. then with the bench of tmac and rip, they should be able to build a lead for the starter. so hopefully no more big deficit because of the starting unit and forcing the bench to use up all their energy just to get back in the game

  • Dec 23, 201012:49 am
    by jk281


    We all know Rip needs a set-up man to be most effective, and has been longing for one since Billups left. He may have found one in McGrady.

  • Dec 23, 20101:10 am
    by Jacob


    @jk281: I was just thinking that during the game. T-Mac is a playmaker and sees the floor better than any other Piston. Putting Rip alongside him may unleash Rip’s game that we have grown to know and appreciate all these years.

  • Dec 23, 20108:09 am
    by vic


    i agree with Jacob…
    TMac is a true playmaker, Rip will do best with him in the 2nd unit.

    Ben Gordon needs the ball in his hands, so with him its all about confidence and staying aggressive. If his shots aren’t falling, he needs to just attack the basket and get in a flow. He can create his own shot better than Rip can.

    I think they can both flourish where they are at now… so things should be looking a little brighter for the Pistons

  • [...] Piston Powered I hope Hamilton can outwardly enjoy basketball again, but Hamilton On A Mission works right now. Hamilton On A Mission is the persona Rip needed to adapt now, and it’s the persona the Pistons need him to adapt now. [...]

  • Dec 23, 201010:42 am
    by Alan


    Hamilton is the story this morning only because we all made TOO BIG A DEAL OUT OF A NON-STORY yesterday.  Frankly, Toronto is just awful and their official turnover count was sixteen bajillion.  An interesting sidenote was McGrady playing 24 pain-free minutes.  I believe this is an all-time high and I’m curious to see if this continues and edges closer to 30mpg.
    Feldman, what is T-Mac’s avg mpg this season and how is the trend shaping?

  • Dec 23, 201012:56 pm
    by Laser


    1) uh, rip hamilton? i thought we buried that guy yesterday… hm.
    2) the PROBLEM is too many shooting guards. i stand by my prediction that you’re hardly ever going to be able to get these guys both going in the same game (and once in a lifetime, those two and stuckey all excelling), and the only tangible benefit of rip coming off the bench will be the added motivation. but one’s success is always going to come at the expense of the other as long as they’re on the same team. so maybe he can prove his worth to a real basketball team and find a new home, and this newfound determination can only help that.
    3) should be a fun game to watch. and should be fun to watch for a while…

  • Dec 23, 20101:45 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    So are you saying that Hamilton had been playing well this season prior to yesterday?
    The fact is, he’s in the midst of his third straight poor season. He still has time to turn this one around, and I hope he does, but if you’re insinuating that writing what was written yesterday was premature, then you’re wrong. There have been significant signs of decline in his game for some time now.
    And let’s not forget, he was playing against arguably the softest perimeter in the NBA in that game yesterday. He played fantastic, but I’ll be slightly more impressed if he saves a redemptive performance or two for a team that’s not horrible.

  • Dec 23, 20102:05 pm
    by neutes


    I’m of the belief, and I’m also of the belief that my belief is correct, that hamilton benefits greatly by playing with guys with great awareness. and i’m also fo the belief that awareness is a great attribute, probably above all other attributes. mcgrady has that. say what you want about his eroding athleticism he still sees what’s happening on the court better than any player we have. he sees the full spectrum (i had a better way to put that but completely forgot it as i typed). everyone knows Rip is better coming off screens, or when he’s given the ball at just the right time, unfortunately since Chauncey left nobody else has had the awareness to know exactly when that right time is.
    these guys had a great article about awareness, and this might be my 2nd favorite truehoop blog, behind PP of course. :) hoopspeak.

  • [...] Dan Feldman of Piston Powered touches on Rip Hamilton’s “mission” and Tracy McGrady’s throw-back performance in Detroit’s victory at Toronto on Wednesday. Whenever an aging guy like McGrady makes a [...]

  • Dec 24, 20104:36 am
    by Laser


    @hayes: i don’t think there is a SINGLE thing wrong with hamilton himself. as a primary scoring option with good screens from bigs and a good passer feeding him the ball, there’s no reason to believe he’s any less of a player than he was when he was an all-star. the team is the problem, because of those above deficiencies and the sheer number of shooting guards on the roster.
    rip gets a lot of attention (all of it, even?) for a strong performance off the bench and what appears to be a newfound determination. but what about the starters? stuckey, paired with the more compatible backcourt mate, dished out a grand total of two (2) assists… one (1) point more than rip’s replacement scored on seven shots! stuckey’s stat line, as usual, looks like a solid performance by a shooting guard, and he didn’t get gordon going any better than he did rip. our backup backcourt stomped the brains out of those guys.
    it’s not about who starts or who comes off the bench. it’s about a sh*tty roster full of guys who play the same position. whichever shooting guard gets paired primarily with a playmaker like t-mac is going to look better than the poor sap who gets to stand around while stuckey jacks up shots. there’s plenty wrong with this team, and very little of it has to do with rip himself.
    he needs screens and passes, and joe KNEW this full well when he offered the guy that long-term extension, his first step in this “rebuilding” nightmare. the problem is that he surrounded his captain and highest paid player with a bunch of guys who are incompatible with him.

  • Dec 24, 20106:41 am
    by ds


    @Laser: I agree that the roster is imbalanced and that this hurts the team. But it sounds like you don’t think that changes can make a difference?
    I imagine that Rip will play consistently better with T-Mac and will probably be more consistent in his scoring and shooting percentage. If he can do that – then it will make the team better. They may not win a lot more games, but it will be an improvement and make the games more watchable.
    I also imagine that BG will work out fine in the starting lineup – he doesn’t require as much as Rip does and so the offense can become more flexible. The starting offense looked out of whack – but that isn’t surprising to me considering Rip has been in the starting lineup for so long. I’ll worry if they don’t get better soon – but for now I’m hopeful.
    Stuckey didn’t get assists – but BG was 1-7, Prince was 3-9 – so what can he do? CV was 8-15 but I’m not sure how many of those got assists.
    This is not to say that the roster is fixed or good, but I think that the rotation is better and the pieces compliment each other better. Not great – but better.

  • Dec 24, 20102:54 pm
    by Jason


    @ ds
    Saying the rotation is “Better” is quite subjective, and Laser’s breakdown already explains why. While BG may fit better with Stuckey – simply because he has the ability to create his own shots – it doesn’t make our team any better.
    Toronto has one of the worst back court’s in the league – so we can’t read into too much here. Laser hit it on the head – who ever is paired with T-Mac will ultimately look like the better SG on that night. Plain and simple.
    Why were all us fans so adamant about moving Gordon into the starting lineup? Because he was playing much better, which has everything to do with the fact that he was #1 coming off the bench, and #2 paired with T-Mac – who is able to set up shots for everyone around him.
    The main constant here? Rodney Stuckey doing everything in his power to pad his stats – probably as directed by his agent, in this contract year. We will all see that this is no fluke – Gordon will not play as well now that he is paired with Stuck. RIP will continue to be effective, being he finally has a facilitator playing aside him on the bench..
    I’ve been saying for weeks that T-Mac needs to start, which if he were healthy then im sure he would be. Until he can play 30 minutes a night though, that’s obviously not a logical option. BUT, it would surely give us the best chance to win.
    Bottom line – until Rodney Stuckey is OFF THIS TEAM, the Pistons will not get a whole lot better then we are now. We may have a couple nights where we all come together – but we will not consistently win any more games then we are now, no matter who starts at the SG position.

  • Dec 24, 20104:09 pm
    by Laser


    @ds: which came first, the chicken or the egg? did stuckey fail to rack up any assists because prince and gordon shoot a combined 4 for 16, or did they shoot so poorly because their point guard is incapable of helping them get better shots?? i mean, stuckey took as many shots as they did combined! he shot well, but the kid had yet another fine stat line for a shooting guard. the only thing we can say for sure is that these three didn’t look particularly good together and that t-mac and rip looked a whole lot better. the other thing this game reinforced is that no matter how you shuffle the combinations, rip’s gain is gordon’s loss and vice versa. so this points to the roster being the problem, not any one player (except maybe rodney “shoot it again” stuckey; it’s easy to point the finger at him. and, after all, the pistons are 2-0 this season when he doesn’t play). rotation tweaks here and there can make games more bearable to watch, but i’d give t-mac and rip the chance to start. why not? your best playmaker and the guy you want to ship out of town may as well get the chance to start and set the tone. stuckey and gordon would be just as effective coming off the bench for some instant offense.
    @jason: i can see the value of pairing stuckey and gordon in the starting lineup for one reason: gordon was signed to pair with stuckey like a fine wine, and both of them are probably tradable, so i suppose it can’t hurt to see if these guys have a future together (no homo). one game in it looks pretty sad, but we should have enough of a sample size by the trade deadline to make a determination. if rip can’t be traded and joe understands that these three can not succeed together, maybe he can at least get a proper look at the guys he envisioned as his dream backcourt.
    as for stuckey, i don’t think he’s trying to pad his stats. i just think he’s being rodney stuckey. and what rodney stuckey does is score. he’s been interviewed time and time again and admitted he’s always looking to score. maybe he’d like to be a point guard, but it’s just not in his nature. i try not to hold it against him, except for the fact that it really seems like he’s not trying to run the offense. fun fact: against the clippers, stuckey played 22 minutes and “dazzled” us with another two assist performance (just 28 minutes versus toronto, too. that’s kind of interesting. yeah, and, uh that means he played 50 minutes combined, a bit more than one full NBA game, and totaled 4 assists… god help us), but the fun part about stuckey’s assists versus the clipps was that they both came in the first five (5) minutes. i believe one was on the first possession and the next was with just over seven minutes left in the first. then eighteen full minutes with the ball in his hands and no assists to show for it. i do think stuckey could be a fine shooting guard. heck, that’s the position he’s been playing anyways; we just haven’t regularly started a point guard in 25 months. but if ben gordon has league-wide value and doesn’t work out as a tandem with stuckey, maybe dumars suddenly develops some brains and moves him. then rip and stuckey could be our shooting guards, and i’d be fine with that. i’d even live with stuckey as our backup PG. it seems like he makes better decisions with the ball when it’s not in his hands all the time, so i’ll agree that we’ll never be any good as long as he’s charged with running the offense, but i think stuckey could be on a good pistons team. as a shooting guard or instant offense off the bench. but he’s unwilling or unable to make his teammates better. you’re right about that.

  • Dec 24, 20105:04 pm
    by Laser


    @hayes: also, just to be very concise for once… yes, rip is in the midst of his third straight poor season. he’s also in the midst of his third straight season of being forced to coexist with two other shooting guards playing major roles, without the benefit of a point guard in the rotation. that’s all i’m saying.

  • Dec 24, 20106:03 pm
    by Laser


    …and all three shooting guards he’s been forced to coexist with are used to creating their own shots. i mean, come on.

  • Dec 28, 201010:41 am
    by Jason


    @ Laser – Agreed, agreed and agreed.
    I too like Stuckey – as a SG. I think most teams would see a HUGE benefit in having the guy as a SG off the bench – He’s aggressive, and can get to the rack as well as anyone in the league.. Problem is, that’s simply NOT what you want in a PG (Unless of course you combine that aggressiveness with play-making ability -(Williams, Rose, CP3, etc))

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