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Austin Daye and Greg Monroe shine in Pistons win for present and future

The Pistons found a few new toys tonight, and boy, it was a lot of fun watching Detroit learn how to play with them – even if the results weren’t always perfect.

The Pistons found intensity. I saw probably more Pistons dive for loose balls in their 112-109 overtime victory over the 76ers than I had the rest of the season. The Pistons took this game personally, and it showed. But they took it a little too far when Ben Wallace got hit with a late technical foul in regulation.

The Pistons found unselfishness. Everyone moved the ball, especially Tracy McGrady (seven assists) and Ben Wallace (five assists). But the Pistons were a little too unselfish, passing up good shots and frequently getting more difficult looks or turnovers instead.

And best of all, the Pistons found Austin Daye and Greg Monroe.

The two young players carried the Pistons into overtime and gave Detroit a huge advantage early in the extra period.

Kudos to Pistons assistant coach Darrell Walker, who amended John Kuester’s play diagramming in the huddle before Detroit’s final play of regulation. I didn’t catch exactly what Walker said, but he wanted to change the role of “AD.” Kuester agreed, and wisely so. Daye’s 3-pointer with three seconds left to tie the game was a highlight of the season.

Then, Daye opened overtime with another 3-pointer and scored the game’s next points on a dunk (that clearly came from Monroe, who wasn’t credited with an assist). Add Monroe making three free throws after working inside, and the Daye-Monroe combo led Detroit’s 8-0 run to start overtime.

The Pistons went to those two a little too much after that. Monroe missed a free throw and each missed a shot before Rodney Stuckey made five free throws to seal the game.

But I didn’t care Daye and Monroe weren’t perfect. I didn’t care the Pistons passed too much. I didn’t care Wallace picked up a technical. Those were the side effects. The main results were too enjoyable.

If the Pistons play this hard and move the ball this well every night – and I certainly don’t expect that to happen – they’ll make the playoffs.

And if Monroe and Daye keep playing this well, they’ll be key pieces for the Pistons going forward in this rebuilding process.

Unlike his first career double-double against the Lakers on Tuesday, Monroe made a mark on this game. Many of his career-best 16 points came at crucial moments and with more diverse offensive moves than he had previously showed. Many of his 13 rebounds came in traffic. And his three steals came with solid defense, not needless risk taking.

Daye (15 points, six rebounds and three assists) continues to prove he’s a unique player in many ways. How many players can match his combination of shooting, passing, rebound positioning and consistency in boxing out? He must become a better defender, on and off the ball, to play enough to establish his primary skills. But those primary skills are a pretty special combination.

I can’t tell if I’m more excited about this game because of the tenacity the Pistons displayed in the moment or the encouraging signs Monroe and Daye showed for the future. Like the Pistons, I can’t entirely decide between the present and future – so I’ll stick with what I know:

I hope Daye and Monroe take naps before every game.

Tayshaun Prince powers inside

Tayshaun Prince did a tremendous job working his way inside offensively all night. Combined with his penchant for selectively choosing his spots, it’s no wonder Prince scored 23 points on 10-of-14 shooting.

Prince’s average shot came 10.4 feet from the basket. If you remove his lone 3-point attempt (a make), that number drops to 9.4 feet.

His ability to find quality shots is even more impressive considering Andres Nocioni, a pretty good defender, guarded him most of the game.

Add eight rebounds and pretty solid defense, including two blocks and a steal, Prince had an excellent night.

Rodney Stuckey starts again

NBA players rarely smile on the court. For one, half of them have nothing to smile about. The other half of them try to hide their grins because they want everyone to believe they play well so often, it’s old hat.

But when Rodney Stuckey made a long 3-pointer on the second possession of his first start since the Pistons lost to the Bobcats on Dec. 27, he allowed one the largest smiles I’ve season during a game to come across his face.

After so much chatter about Tracy McGrady playing better than him, Stuckey had to feel good about getting his job back. Stuckey’s 20-point, seven-rebound, four-assist, two-steal, two-turnover effort won’t ease all doubts, and it shouldn’t, especially considering the unlikelihood of Stuckey making 3-of-4 3-pointers. But it at least slows the flow of support from him to McGrady.

Stuckey played strong on-ball defense, including forcing a Jrue Holiday miss during a one-on-one fastbreak. Stuckey’s defense comes and goes, but he locked down against the 76ers.

His hustle also led to what I thought was a nice moment. Late in the fourth quarter, Stuckey dove for a loose ball and passed ahead to Daye, who charged. John Kuester, who publically feuded with Stuckey earlier in the season, came on to court to help up the point guard.

Shooting-guard shakeup

The Pistons’ top two shooting guards, Ben Gordon and Richard Hamilton, combined to score 15 points (4-of-17 shooting) with three rebounds and two assists. Both posted negative plus-minuses (Gordon at –5 and Hamilton at –1). That hasn’t happened in a win all season, and I don’t expect it to happen again. In fact, they’d both posted positive plus-minuses in six of the 10 Pistons wins where they both played.

So how did the Pistons get by tonight? Rodney Stuckey and Tracy McGrady shared the backcourt for the game’s final nine minutes, and those two played off each other better than either Gordon or Hamilton did with one of the point guards.

John Kuester deserves credit for not sticking with the Pistons’ highest-paid player or their third-highest player at shooting guard when it clearly wasn’t working.

Pistons’ length helps

Joe Dumars devotion to acquiring long players who can play multiple positions helped the Pistons on the 76ers final full possession of regulation. Philadelphia ran a pick-and-roll, but when Austin Daye and Tayshaun Prince switched, they easily defended it. Many teams don’t have the versatility to switch in those circumstances, but Daye and Prince provided it here.

Elton Brand still had time to score as the shot clock wound down after the Pistons stifled the pick-and-roll, but the Pistons made Philadelphia earn that basket.

Why did the Pistons draft Daye, Jonas Jerebko and DaJuan Summers in the same draft? That possession was one of the reasons.

Free-throw struggles

After the aforementioned Elton Brand basket, Charlie Villanueva missed a 3-pointer, and Austin Daye intentionally fouled Lou Williams. Luckily for the Pistons, Williams – an 81-percent free-throw shooter – missed both his free-throw attempts. That set up Daye’s game-tying 3-pointer.

Late in overtime, Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey each split a pair of free throws, and Tayshaun Prince missed a pair. Evan Turner and Jodie Meeks each made 3-pointers in that time frame, making the Pistons sweat a little.

Another subpar free-throw shooting night for the Pistons – 22 of 34 (64.7 percent) – didn’t cost them the game, but it’s still disturbing. Thankfully, the 76ers – 16-of-23 (69.6 percent) – came close enough to sinking to Detroit’s level.

Evan Tuner coming around?

Maybe it was just because he was playing the Pistons, or maybe he’s getting the hang of the NBA, but Evan Turner played a fine game. He had 19 points (7-of-11 shooting), five rebounds and five assists and played solid defense.

Before the draft, I thought Turner would become an excellent player, so I’m happy to see him play well just to prove myself right.

But I’m also happy Turner didn’t bring me near tears.

Strange stat

The Pistons have played nine games on at least two days rest. Including this one, four have gone to overtime.

Detroit is 5-4 on at least two days rest and 3-1 when those games go to overtime.

Playoff intensity

If the NBA ever decided to hold play-in games between the No. 8 and No. 9 seeds to determine who made the playoffs, I suspect it would look something this.

Night in and night out, neither of these teams appears particularly mentally tough. But they both acted that way tonight – I suspect because each thought they were better than the other team.

It’s OK to lose to the NBA’s top teams. But to lose to Philadelphia (or Detroit)? Not having that.

That type of thinking isn’t productive long term, but it made for an entertaining game tonight.


  • Jan 9, 201112:31 am
    by Jeremy


    Wow. Pistons fans needed that. And with trade talk and the increased likelihood of a team sale? I think I’m getting over-stimulated…
    Hopefully BG can get back on track against the Bulls on Monday.

  • Jan 9, 20111:02 am
    by bg8



    don’t get your hopes up on bg getting on track especially with kuester as the coach. honestly i was just waiting for the pistons to lose another close 4th quarter game so i could come and say the samething about kuester that ive been saying for a while now, but dang, daye just had to bail him out. good for daye though

  • Jan 9, 20112:58 am
    by jack


    It was great seeing both Tracy and Stuckey out there. I believe a playmaker like Tracy can help Stuck’s game in so many ways. It allows Stuck to play his natural game. You look at the boxscore and see Tmacs stats and say to you’reself what is the big deal, but his ability to control and  setup his teammates with direct or hockey type assists are priceless. His decision making and cool head is a calming effect on the young kids in  critical junctions of games.

    You can see Daye really respects him and tries to   learn off him on each play.He has been the opposite of the Iverson situation.

  • Jan 9, 20113:04 am
    by Troy Drayton


    I haven’t jumped and fist pumped very much this season. I did multiple times in this game. We need more games with effort like this! Daye looked extremely confident in the fourth quarter as did Monroe. Loved what I saw this game.

  • Jan 9, 20114:44 am
    by Tony


    I said before, play Monroe, bench and trade Hamilton/Gordon together and bring in a traditional PG so Stuckey can move to his true position at SG maybe pick up Maynard from OKC or draft Ray MaCallum.  Please keep Maxiell and let Wallace retire a Piston. 

  • Jan 9, 20115:35 am
    by jk281


    @Tony, “Please keep Maxiell”??????

    What for?

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Patrick Hayes. Patrick Hayes said: From @PistonPowered: Austin Daye and Greg Monroe shine in Pistons win for present and future http://bit.ly/ek9wZR [...]

  • Jan 9, 20118:59 am
    by detroitpcb


    Come on. Where is the article that says Ben Gordon or Rip should have been in the game instead of Austin?

    I’ve been telling you guys all season. This kid is real. he is a better shooter than either Rip or Ben Gordon and he is a more intelligent player. All he needs is confidence and more minutes to blossom.

  • Jan 9, 20119:05 am
    by detroitpcb


    and let me add one more thing to Daye’s growing resume: Daye knows how to feed the post and his defender cannot stop him from doing it even if the defender crowds him. daye is too long. In the second quarter Daye made the hockey assist to T-Mac in the post three times and each time the double came T-Mac found a teammate. The Pistons should post their guards far more often when T-Mac and Stuckey are in the game.

    and the lineup i have been pushing for a while assuming Tay is traded:


  • Jan 9, 20119:43 am
    by Tom Y.


    @detroitpcb BG could still be a big part of this team going forward, with a bigger role and hopefully a better attitude on his part (I think all this rotation/who starts mess with Rip has gotten to him and is affecting his performance). McGrady will likely be gone next summer if not before. Not saying BG is untouchable or anything like that but he wouldn’t be on top of my trade-now list… which I think would go something like Rip, Tay, Max, Wilcox (and you can throw in Dejuan as well).
    I think you got your Monroe and CV mixed up and Ben should probably keep starting at least for a couple months more to set the defensive tone. But Monroe and CV should definitely both be getting big minutes.

  • Jan 9, 201110:21 am
    by Jeremy


    More trade chatter. From the San Francisco Chronicle (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/01/08/SPP21H6B7G.DTL#ixzz1AYGc1yYt):
    “The Warriors are interested in Tayshaun Prince and have been intrigued by Zach Randolph, two guys who might fit that description and could be available.”

    Also, did I miss something a couple games ago when Q stopped playing Wilcox and went back to Maxiell? I don’t think there’s any Piston I’d rather see on the floor less than Jason. He has one or two amazing blocks each season and the rest of the time he’s just missing free throws and bodying up on people. Can’t even rebound most of the time.

  • Jan 9, 201110:31 am
    by detroitpcb


    @Tom Y

    ben gordon takes terrible high degree of difficulty shots all the time. when the ball gets in his hands, it rarely moves and the offense breaks down.

    personally, i don’t like his game and if Joe D gets a reasonable offer for him, i would pull the trigger in a second.

    you are probably right about Ben Wallace. But the liability of starting Ben is that the other team does not have to guard him on the offensive end.

  • Jan 9, 201111:26 am
    by neutes


    So how about Rip, Gordon, and CV each playing about 20 minutes a piece? Isn’t it great when your highest paid players aren’t any good? I think Kuester is finally starting to realize it.
    What are the Pistons going to do with these players?! Rip, Gordon, CV, and Max all have to go. Instead we have to watch 3 of our better players possibly walk in the offseason in Stuckey, Mcgrady, and Prince, while we get to retain our overpaid crappy players. This seems like a pretty good plan Dumars has going here.
    Monroe is balling lately. Is that back to back double/doubles? Keep it up.

  • Jan 9, 201112:49 pm
    by Tom Y.


    @ detroitpcb: to be honest I haven’t watched BG all that much, I agree that he’s limited but as a scorer with a clear role he’s shown he can produce well. We could certainly use someone like that. He’s been hot and cold over his Pistons tenure but then he hasn’t had a long stretch with both health and a clear role. He’s not a great player and he will probably not exceed his contract but I think he can live up to it. Still, I do see your point, maybe i’ll add him to my willing-to-trade list… 3rd place after Tay and Rip. Maybe even 2nd.
    We should probably trade McGrady – he should be very desirable to some contender (maybe a darkhorse contender since most frontrunners might be afraid to screw their chemistry, though I could see him on the spurs or maybe orlando). And he’s not likely to resign (unless it’s to stay close to Kander…). Otherwise I would like the idea of him and Stuckey together – they can switch positions on D (stuck taking the quicker player obviously) and it would clear McGrady to manage the O.
    So if we do trade both Rip and BG (and McGrady) I’d like to see some new PG coming in, with Stuck sliding to SG. Actually it may be in his best interest because it would allow him to work on his shot, which I assume has to be easier than improving his court vision/game management skills. Or if both BG and Stuck stay, I’d still like a new PG, with BG at the 2 and Stuck backing both guards.

  • Jan 9, 201112:54 pm
    by Laser


    how the hell did the scorer fail to give monroe an assist on that dish to daye?? that was as assisted as any basket i’ve seen in my life.

  • Jan 9, 20113:11 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    “don’t get your hopes up on bg getting on track especially with kuester as the coach.”
    I understand Kuester’s flaws as a coach. But Ben Gordon can and should make open shots. Too many of his bad shooting nights consist of him failing to knock down open looks. No one to blame but Gordon himself for that. He simply has to play better in the minutes he’s given. No excuses. He knew the team had other options at SG when he signed here and that he’d share minutes.

  • Jan 9, 20113:14 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    “It was great seeing both Tracy and Stuckey out there. I believe a playmaker like Tracy can help Stuck’s game in so many ways”
    I agree with you on this. Stuckey actually moves really well without the ball, we just never get to see that aspect of his game because he’s always bringing it up-court. I think there are dimensions to Stuckey’s game that many fans just don’t know exist yet because he’s only used one way by the Pistons. Stuckey will be a decent NBA player when he’s with a coaching staff that realizes he has to be moved all over the place to take advantage of his versatility. I’ve always thought the best role for him would be as a third guard who can play a lot of minutes at both positions, depending on situations/matchups.

  • Jan 9, 20113:15 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    Yeah, I have to reiterate jk’s comment. Why, exactly, do they need to keep Maxiell? He’s been extremely unproductive for about two straight years now. I think he’d be OK as a situational player on a good team, but he has little use to a rebuilding team like the Pistons.

  • Jan 9, 20113:21 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    “Where is the article that says Ben Gordon or Rip should have been in the game instead of Austin?”
    Give me a break with this crap. You’ve been on here hyping Daye having “good games” when he shoots 2-for-8 and the team loses by 20. He’s a good, intriguing prospect. I hope he continues to improve. Hamilton and Gordon have both been fringe All-Stars in the league for a while now. To say Daye, a player who has never scored 20 in a game, has earned minutes over them based on his body of work to date in his career is just you stumping for your son.
    In games like last night’s, when Daye clearly, clearly, out-plays them, then yeah, keep him out there. there are plenty of other games, however, where Daye has disappeared or been ineffective. Give him an increased role when he consistently performs in the minutes he’s given. I fully expect him to go out against Chicago and have a similar impact on that game. If he doesn’t, the i expect you will be on here blaming kuester for that or some other excuse.
    He’s like a son to you. I get it. There are a handful of players who I like so much that I constantly overlook their flaws. But at least I’m honest about it.
    I hope Daye becomes a really good player for the Pistons. Honestly, I’d much rather have him on the team than Hamilton and Gordon because it makes no sense to have high-salaried guys on a rebuilding team who are not capable of being No. 1 scoring options. But like it or not, they’re on the team, and based on their careers vs. Daye’s so far, they’re still the better players, as much as I hope Daye changes that by building on this performance over the next few weeks.

  • Jan 9, 20113:23 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    “So how about Rip, Gordon, and CV each playing about 20 minutes a piece? Isn’t it great when your highest paid players aren’t any good? I think Kuester is finally starting to realize it.”
    I would guess Kuester probably realized it a long time ago. No one who watches those guys on a daily basis could come to a conclusion that they’re long-term answers as your top three. But I also think Kuester was obligated to do everything he could to make it work with those guys. If he weren’t patient with them, it was likely it would’ve cost him his job, since that’s been the pattern in Detroit. Dumars has routinely sided with players over coaches as GM, so I get why Kuester stuck with Dumars’ big money guys for so long.

  • Jan 9, 20113:25 pm
    by Patrick Hayes


    @Tom Y:
    “We should probably trade McGrady – he should be very desirable to some contender”
    His contract is so small though, the return wouldn’t be much unless McGrady is paired with another player, and I’m not sure that a contending team wants to take on someone like Hamilton or Maxiell just to get McGrady. Maybe a Prince/McGrady/Wilcox package could entice a team to make a deal.
    Honestly though, part of me wouldn’t mind seeing Detroit keep him and trying to re-sign him to a two-year deal or so in the offseason. Maybe McGrady will have some loyalty to Detroit since the Pistons were the only team willing to gamble on him last offseason. And he certainly fills a role the Pistons currently have no one else capable of filling.

  • Jan 9, 20114:23 pm
    by Jeremy


    I don’t see McGrady sticking around. He’s doing everything right but he always seems to me like he’s biding his time. He can often be seen chumming it up with opposing team’s superstars. I’d like to keep him too, but I think he goes to a contender the minute he gets the chance.

  • Jan 9, 20117:14 pm
    by gmehl1977


    @Patrick/PCB (Comment 18)
    That little showdown between you 2 guys on comment 18 is why i love pistonpowered so much. Patrick saying like it should be said…Evil Hayes strikes again!
    Daye as good as he eventually might be one day still has to bide his time as does Monroe. If they don’t then they will just end like a sliver spoon fed Stuckey. As Joe once said ‘there are no sacred cows on this team’. No sacred cows except Stuckey that is (insert irony). Make the young fellas earn it i say!

  • Jan 9, 20118:07 pm
    by Patrick Hayes



    “Also, did I miss something a couple games ago when Q stopped playing Wilcox and went back to Maxiell?”

    Yeah, you missed something. Wilcox injured his groin against Phoenix, so Maxiell got his rotation spot back.

  • Jan 10, 20113:21 am
    by bg8



    true, gordon needs to knock down open shots. but how many times has gordon played and shot well and end up not getting back in the game for a long period of time (in term of real time), which just takes him out of any sort of rhythm he might have. and most definitely blasting him out of any zone he might have entered into

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    by temporary hair chalk


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