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Tayshaun Prince on John Kuester’s decision to bench Richard Hamilton for Pistons’ loss to Grizzlies: "Buffoonery. Do you all know what that means?"

After the Pistons’ 107-99 loss to the Grizzlies tonight, Tayshaun Prince wasn’t happy with Pistons coach John Kuester, according to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Tayshaun chimed in when Rip was addressing not playing: "buffoonery. Do you all know what that means?" #Pistons

Hamilton didn’t play because of a coach’s decision for the first time since the final game of the 2008-09 season, when the Pistons had already clinched the eighth seed (first pointed out by Dave Pemberton of The Oakland Press).

Hamilton has played poorly all season, and Kuester removed him from the starting lineup a few weeks ago. When that didn’t boost Hamilton’s production, Kuester took the next step tonight.

After the game, Hamilton showed a little more restraint than Prince apparently did. Hamilton answered questions calmly and didn’t speak with any agitation in his voice, but he also didn’t pretend he supported the decision. At one point, he asked whether his demotion was disrespectful or unfair. He resisted answering his own question directly.

“I’ll leave that to y’all,” Hamilton said, leaving it clear where he stands.

I understand why Hamilton and Prince are upset. The foundation they helped build is crumbling, and Kuester is helping to tear it down. Not only that, they’re not enjoying Denver or retirement like Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace. Hamilton and Prince have to watch the decay happen right in front of them. That must hurt.

But Detroit can’t build again on top of a crumbling foundation. These steps are necessary for the franchise.

This isn’t an easy situation, and statements like Prince’s are bolding the lines between the two sides. Which side everyone stuck between Kuester and Prince/Hamilton will follow remains to be seen.

Did John Kuester lose the team, or did he just lose Prince and Hamilton? I suspect it’s the latter, which shows how fragmented this team is. I don’t want them banding together against Kuester, but it’s nearly impossible to believe they could come together for anything.

This wasn’t the start of the Pistons’ locker-room problems, and it’s likely not the end. In fact, it certainly won’t be the end of them unless Joe Dumars replaces “or” with “and” in Prince’s pregame comments. Via Goodwill:

"Whether you think it’s a Rip trade or Tayshaun trade (laughs), something needs to be done."

Chris Wilcox and Greg Monroe slow, can’t stop, Zach Randolph

Changing the backcourt was a luxury. Changing the frontcourt was a necessity.

John Kuester inserted Tracy McGrady as starting point guard and shifted Rodney Stuckey to shooting guard because he could. The Pistons are stocked with capable guards, and when one (or two or three) isn’t playing well, Kuester can play another.

But the coach didn’t have a viable option other than starting Chris Wilcox and Greg Monroe, and Kuester basically told Monroe as much. Ben Wallace is hurt, and neither Charlie Villanueva nor Jason Maxiell has made a significant impact in several games.

Let me repeat that: Chris Wilcox and Greg Monroe were the Pistons’ best options at power forward center.

Obviously, that’s not the prettiest picture. But the duo battled and battled and battled against the Grizzlies’ talented and efficient bigs. But relying on Wilcox and Monroe against Zach Randolph presents such an obstacle, it outweighed the Pistons’ advantages – an injury to starting Grizzlies guard Tony Allen, a 21-7 start against a Memphis team ending a three-game road trip and a late scoring flurry by Ben Gordon.

Wilcox and Monroe weren’t the problem. The problems swelled with one or both of them on the bench.

  • With Wilcox and Monroe playing, Pistons outscored the Grizzlies, 39-32, in 19:29.
  • With one playing, the Grizzlies outscored the Pistons, 41-39 in 17:45.
  • With neither playing, the Grizzlies outscored the Pistons, 34-21 in 10:46.

Monroe and Wilcox both missed time because of foul trouble, and Monroe eventually fouled out. But I don’t want to hear about what could have been had they avoided the whistle. Monroe and Wilcox couldn’t have played so effectively against Memphis’ bigs if they didn’t brandish a forceful fervor that leads to foul calls.

In particular, they limited Randolph – at least much as was possible tonight. He finished with 34 points and 17 rebounds, becoming the first Detroit opponent to post those numbers since Shaquille O’Neal in 1995. But a healthy portion of Randolph’s damage came with Wilcox and/or Monroe out.

  • Against Wilcox and Monroe: 7 points (2-of-6 from the field) and six rebounds in 18:17.
  • Against one: 13 points (4-of-7 from the field) and four rebounds in 13:16.
  • Against neither: 14 points (4-of-4 from the field) and seven rebounds in 7:51.*

*Randolph’s numbers against neither are slightly inflated, because Randolph went to the line three times when the Pistons intentionally fouled late.

If that’s not clear, here are Randolph’s per-36-minute numbers:

  • Against Wilcox and Monroe: 13.8 points (33 percent from the field) and 11.8 rebounds.
  • Against one: 35.3 points (57 percent from the field) and 10.9 rebounds.
  • Against neither: 64.2 points (100 percent from the field) and 32.1 rebounds.

It was so important for both Wilcox and Monroe to play against Randolph, because the Memphis forward was paired with Marc Gasol or Darrell Arthur for nearly all his minutes, and the centers are capable low-post scorers themselves. The Grizzlies thrive on causing switches inside and taking advantage of the mismatch.

But with Monroe and Wilcox in the game, Memphis couldn’t do that. Both played well defensively, and in Monroe’s case, offensively and on the glass, too.

Monroe scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to notch his fourth straight double-double – on shy of Jason Maxiell’s five consecutive double-doubles last March.

Defensively, Wilcox hasn’t proven himself multidimensional. When he uses his strength to hold his position, he’s flat-footed and prone to players getting around him. When he shuffles his feet to stay in front of players, he’s too upright and prone to getting pushed around. Tonight, he executed both skills successfully.

A strong effort by Wilcox and Monroe gave the Pistons a chance. Their backups, Charlie Villanueva and Jason Maxiell, stifled that chance.

Rudy dominates Austin Daye, not Tayshaun Prince

A quick glance at the starting small forwards – Rudy Gay scored 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting, and Tayshaun Prince score eight points on 3-of-13 shooting – appears to indicate one dominated the other. Sure, Gay outplayed Prince.

But Gay didn’t dominate Prince. He dominated Daye.

Gay scored 12 of his points on 4-of-4 shooting in 11 minutes while Prince rested (39.3 points per 36 minutes). In his other 35 minutes, all against Prince, Gay scored 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting (14.4 points per 36 minutes).

That’s why Daye played just nine minutes (-9) tonight.

Still, that doesn’t exactly excuse Prince’s shooting. Gay didn’t play fantastic defense, and Prince didn’t think so either, because he kept shooting. But Gay played good enough defense, baiting Prince into 10 misses on 13 shots. Gay’s defense wasn’t lockdown, but it was either savvy or lucky, and I lean toward the former.

Gay only posted such offensive gaudy numbers because he played 46 minutes. I don’t mean that as an insult – quite the opposite, actually. Gay stays in good enough shape to play 40.2 minutes per game, second most in the league, allowing him to pick his spots to shoot. That’s a valuable skill.

Many starts have to take nearly all the their against the Princes of the league, but Gay gets a chance to score over the Dayes.

I realize I just dogged Daye, and so PCB doesn’t feel bad, I’ll end this section proving he’s right that everyone is out to get Daye. Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Tay to Austin Daye: "You coming in for me?" Austin nods. Tay rolls his eyes….all a part of the #3rdqtrcollapse

Ben Gordon scores 25 points in final 13:30

If you glanced at a box score, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned Ben Gordon yet. After all, he scored 25 points.

Gordon didn’t shoot until midway through the second quarter, and he didn’t shoot again until 3:34 remained in the third quarter. Two minutes later, he finally made his first shot of the night – with the Pistons trailing by 12. That sparked a massive scoring binge, but as Patrick messaged me:

Man, you can’t guard BG when the game is already over. He’s so clutch.

As far as this game, Gordon’s performance was mostly empty. The Memphis defense had softened, and Kuester didn’t complain when Gordon began chucking, so he just kept going.

Gordon is in a catch-22. He needs to be the focal point of the Pistons’ offense to shoot well. But John Kuester can’t make Gordon the focal point until the guard shoots well.

Hopefully, this game serves as a turning point for Gordon’s confidence and role. But I’m not counting on it.

Gordon last scored 25 points against the Hornets on Dec. 19. He followed that game by scoring four points and seven points in his next two games.

New backcourt rotation

Before the game, I wondered which two of Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton and Will Bynum would make the rotation now that Tracy McGrady and Rodney Stuckey are starting.

Ben Gordon entered the game for Rodney Stuckey late in first quarter. Then, Stuckey started the second quarter at point guard before McGrady re-entered midway through the frame and pushed Stuckey back to shooting guard. That pattern basically repeated itself in the second half.

Stuckey played 39 minutes, and McGrady played 36 – both above their season averages. Stuckey could probably sustain that much playing time if necessary, but I doubt McGrady could.

Will Kuester adjust the rotation, or will he keep piling minutes on those two?

14 Comments

  • Jan 13, 20115:07 am
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    “The foundation they helped build is crumbling”
    There is no way better to describe what has happened to the pistons empire.
    “Tay to Austin Daye: “You coming in for me?” Austin nods. Tay rolls his eyes….all a part of the #3rdqtrcollapse”
    I got that tweet and i just thought to myself…Prince needs to go! If he wants to be like that then send him to Cleveland for an old tooth brush. Someone asked the other day how the 2004 championship team will be remembered. Well i think with stuff like that Tay is tarnishing his pistons legacy whether its fault or not. Ugly ugly ugly attitude by a supposive vetran.

  • Jan 13, 20118:57 am
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    this may sound crazy after Ben Gordon’s best performance (as Partick says – so clutch when the game is over) but the problem is exactly what Dan perceives: Gordon has to be the focus of the offense. If he is the focus of that second team that means Austin Daye will not see the ball. This was evident in both halves last night – other than a dunk and an offensive rebound – Daye never touched the ball. Even T-Mac doesn’t look for him. It is almost like the vets are deliberately freezing him out. If Daye does not see the ball, there is no reason for him to be on the floor. I mean, the offensive end is his strength. While Daye played ok on defense (Gay was hitting tough shots) he is never going to be a defensive stopper.

    I think the coaching staff should make Daye the focus of the offensive sets and ball movement on the second team. He sees the floor, shares the ball, can feed the post, and is a more reliable shooter than Ben Gordon based on this years peercentages.

    T-Mac is going to have trouble as teams pressure him full court. The Phoenix game put that on every team’s pregame scouting report. He is simply too slow bringing the ball up and then the Pisons get into their offense with very little time on the clock – and it is not like they are very effiicient anyway.

    prince & ben gordon for Zach.

  • Jan 13, 20119:07 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @PCB:
    My one major gripe with Daye’s game (other than defense, which will hopefully improve with time/weight training) is the fact that he doesn’t move without the ball. Like, at all. When he’s on the floor with the veteran players, he defers so much that he defers himself right out of the game. I think this is less to do with a conscious effort to freeze him out (let’s face it, McGrady, Stuckey, Villanueva and Gordon don’t see like the types to do something like that, Hamilton doesn’t have the ball enough to successfully carry it out and the only guy that anyone can remotely see maybe doing that, Prince, rarely is on the court with Daye anymore. It’s more that Daye just seems to get less assertive when he’s on the court with multiple guys who also look to score.

  • Jan 13, 20119:12 am
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    And also, while I think there might be some tepid interest in Gordon around the league if they shop him, it won’t be Memphis.
    First, they’re pretty loaded at the 2-3 with Mayo, Gay, Henry, Young, Tony Allen, Vazquez (who they aren’t sure if he’s a 1 or a 2 yet), etc.
    Secondly, when Memphis was trying to deal Pau Gasol a few years ago, they had zero interest in Gordon, who at the time was a promising young player still on a rookie deal. We all know they traded Gasol for nothing (although, luckily for Chris Wallace, Marc Gasol was better than anyone imagined). There’s no way anyone could’ve considered that a better deal than the Bulls package of Gordon and a mix of other young players plus a big expiring contract (Antonio Davis, I believe? Or PJ Brown? One of those two).
    The benching of Gordon certainly shows the organization isn’t happy with him, but if they do shop him, his value is at an all-time low and they’re not getting Randolph for him.

  • Jan 13, 201110:36 am
    by nuetes

    Reply

    What to take away from this game…I missed half of it in class checking updates on the old telly, saw the 2nd half collapse though. Things basically fell apart when the bench came in, as predicted. The starters played quite a bit of minutes though I was surprised. 3 of the 5 played over 35 minutes, and Monroe played 30 due to foul trouble. Still left too many minutes for Gordon, Daye, Max, and CV (what a stellar defensive quartet there!) to be eaten alive by Randolph and Gay, as Dan pointed out.
     
    Still, trying to piece together optimism seems tough. Rip didn’t play, which would be a common thing if traded, and something a lot of people hope for. Rip not playing is a pretty messed up situation and didn’t sit too well with Prince. This team is about to implode but I’m ignoring that for now. Gordon shot well (I’m going to refrain from ever saying Gordon ‘played’ well, he can only shoot well). We got the starting lineup we’ve wanted sans maybe Wallace for Wilcox, and they played decent while in the game together, but all of that wasn’t enough. So now what? Try it again? Alienate Rip and Prince from the team some more? See how tired Mcgrady’s legs can get? Give up? Blow it up? I don’t know, but this season is not very fun.
     

  • Jan 13, 201111:06 am
    by Laser

    Reply

    1) i love the idea of benching rip. or gordon. or whoever. absolutely love it. this team is fifty times better and actually makes *gasp* a bit of sense as long as they’re not trying to cram three shooting guards into the mix. and moving stuckey off the ball? brilliant. it’s a bold, exciting move. shortening the rotation to 9? another great idea. i would have loved a win, but the team still stinks. i might have started t-mac/gordon and brought stuckey/bynum off the bench with daye, but then i do like the shortened rotation. good teams have 3-4 players who log starters’ minutes (33-35), a few who play significant backup minutes, a few who play spot minutes; not a team full of guys in the 20-25 range and two who play slightly over 30. they also know who’s going to play, and some idea when they’re going to get into the game. that’s a fine place to start. and rip’s as good a choice as any to cut from the rotation. it’s pathetic that he also happens to be our highest paid player, a captain, and under contract for two more seasons, but this is where we’re at. we gotta start somewhere. giant leap in the right direction last night.
     
    2) prince and rip don’t HAVE to do anything. prince can request a trade; he’s movable, and joe’s said he’d trade prince if he asked to be traded. and rip could ask for a buyout any time he wants to; the team would jump at the chance, assuming they can’t ship him to new jersey. basketball is a business, and these guys have gotten rich as sh*t playing it. you sign a contract and you’re someone else’s property. you deal with what comes.
     
    3) glad to see there’s so much discord going on. i’ve been screaming from the rooftops how bad this team was constructed, and it’s exciting to see things actually moving in one direction or another. kuester is useless; prince and rip have to go, and we need to get some picks or young talent for the former. this whole thing could be blown up and it wouldn’t matter what replaced it, it would be a step in the right direction. anything but keeping this sorry team together and wondering endlessly why finding any chemistry is so darn elusive.

  • Jan 13, 20114:41 pm
    by jayg108

    Reply

    Prince and Rip probably did this same stuff with Iverson, but they had Sheed on their side in the locker room.
     
    I hope Joe D sees their true trade value and sends them to Cleveland for ” an old toothbrush” @gmehl1977:too funny

  • Jan 13, 20115:00 pm
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    What will be interesting is if the Rip trade falls through. If they alienate him enough which will obviously do the same to Prince which it has then this thing could get ugly (uglier) than it already is. Fun times.

  • Jan 13, 20116:35 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    @hayes

    you are partially right. But Daye’s lack of movement seems dictated by the coaching staff and the set playes that are being run. Daye mainly lingers on the weak side behind the three point line, but i do notice that he is constantly adjusting his position slightly to make sure he is in the right spot if the ball reverses or if a driver kicks it to him.  Daye does go down low to set baseline screens. He curls off them sometimes and sometimes pops out and then backdoors his man – with his hands up ready to catch the ball if it would be delivered – but he is usually ignored.

    Cv and Daye are buddies. Prince has an obvious dislike for Daye – i think just based on the fact that Daye is going to take his position and Prince thinks he has a lot of basketball left in him. But you can see that the other players are not looking for Daye. The sets are not being run for him and when someone drives they are not looking to kick it to him. Watch him off the ball carefully. Despite the lack of overt movement- daye is very intelligent about creating passing angles if someone wanted to get him the ball.

    Memphis is going to unload Randolph. They are not going to pay him. I have also seen rumors that they are going to unload OJ Mayo. They could trade him to the Knicks for another Randolph – then trade Zach to the Pistons for prince & gordon. Tehy would save money next summer when Tay comes off the books and be able to sign Gasol and for the rest of this season they would have a great bench – which has been their weakness. But to be honest – i have no idea what they are willing to trade Zach for. But the word is out that they are not going to pay him. 

  • Jan 14, 20114:19 am
    by jack

    Reply

    McGrady was creating a ton of open looks for Austin in CHICAGO AND THE GAMES BEFORE. HE HAS ALLWAYS MADE AN EFFORT TO FIND HIM OFF THE PICK AND ROLL  OR AT THE 3PT LINE. Honestly i dont know where Tmac is freezing Daye out theory is coming from. I really dont. Also Prince told Kuester to keep Daye in the game a few weeks back because Austin ws hot.

  • [...] loss to the Celtics in 2009 remains strong and scary. His minutes and shots dropped amid the “buffoonery” in Detroit, though his three-point percentage rebounded last season into elite territory. When [...]

  • [...] scary. H&#1110&#1109 minutes and shots dropped amid the “buffoonery” &#1110n Detroit, though h&#1110&#1109 three-point percentage [...]

  • [...] guard of the future, waived a shooting guard of their past, re-signed a small forward who coined buffoonery, lost an athletic, no defense power forward to the Boston Celtics, re-signed another, younger [...]

  • [...] publicly”), among other things. That’s not entirely true — you might recall Prince invoking the word “buffoonery” to describe embattled former Pistons coach John Kuester’s decision not to play shooting guard [...]

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