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Shane Battier’s defense befuddles Tayshaun Prince in Pistons loss to Rockets

Do I detect a blown lead? Do I hear people taking shots at Will Bynum even when he shoots 65 percent, scores 21 points with 6 assists and zero turnovers? Do I see a frontcourt player obliterating his season averages against the Pistons frontline?

The All-Star break must be over. And since it’s been a few days since we’ve had a game to talk about, excuse me while I go into greater detail than usual for this one.

Prince making good on his prediction?

No one likes to make a prediction and look bad. Trust me, if I had the chance, I’d gladly like to scrub some of my own from the internet. But Tayshaun Prince is actually in a position to back his prediction, the one where he basically said the Pistons wouldn’t make the playoffs, up. And he got a good start, shooting 0-for-9 and scoring 1 point vs. Houston.

In reality, as listless as Prince looked on occasion, his poor night had everything to do with Shane Battier. Battier knew everything Prince was going to do before he did it. The performance was interesting to me because, as a veteran role player noted for his defense and who has an expiring contract, Battier is basically a competitor to Prince on the trade market. With this lockdown performance, Battier let contending teams know that if they’d like a stopper as a rental, and they are deciding between he and Prince, one of those two players is clearly a little better than the other at that end of the court.

Career night for Patrick Patterson

I’ve lost count of the number of nondescript bigs who have had career nights vs. Detroit over the last two seasons, but add Patrick Patterson to the list. Patterson was a player I liked a lot coming out of Kentucky, but he’s only averaged 4.3 points per game for Houston and had only reached double figures four times before scoring 20 off the bench against Detroit.

The sad part is, the Pistons starting frontcourt of Ben Wallace and Greg Monroe actually frustrated a pretty good big man. Luis Scola, who scored 35 points the last time the Pistons played, shot just 4-for-15 Tuesday as Wallace and Monroe both moved their feet well and both had a hand in Scola’s face all night. Ordinarily, holding a key big to such a poor shooting night should be a recipe for success for Detroit, but with the second unit allowing Patterson to knock down open shots all night, the advantage they gained with Scola’s off night was wasted.

Speaking of defense …

Rodney Stuckey did a nice job with Kevin Martin. Martin, like Scola, has had some good moments against the Pistons in his career. With Stuckey playing him physically, using his quickness to chase Martin around and his strength to fight over top of screens, Martin only shot 4-for-12. To hold a team’s two leading scorers to 8-for-27 shooting and lose has to be a pretty rare feat.

When your three best shooters are all 6-foot-3 or shorter, what do you do?

Stuckey, Ben Gordon and Bynum all shot the ball exceptionally well against the Rockets. But can you play all three of them at the same time? Going ultra small for a long stretch was not something John Kuester cared to experiment with until the final stages of the game when the Pistons had already blown a lead, instead using the ineffective Austin Daye or the aforementioned ineffective to the max Prince. It basically meant that at all times, one of the only three (with apologies to Monroe, who doesn’t create his own shots) effective offensive players the Pistons had on the night was on the bench. It’s an issue that likely won’t go away for the Pistons, unless Kuester suddenly takes a more innovative approach and goes with weird lineups on occasion if guys are clearly having good nights.

What to do with Bynum?

DetroitPCB wrote this in the comments:

I will not be watching anymore of Will Bynum pulling the Pistons close with great play and then blowing the game with poor decision making. Not only is it so hard to watch, it is totally predictable. Between Bynum and Gordon and Stuckey, you just know somebody is going to make an absolutely boneheaded play.

Now, to be clear, I disagree for reasons I’ve listed before. But a common complaint about Bynum is that he calls his own number too often late in games. Bynum plays the way he plays because he’s been unfairly yanked in and out of the rotation during his career. He plays every second he’s on the court as if he might not play again for three weeks because, frankly, that’s how he’s been treated as a Piston. There’s a simple fix to this: give him a role and don’t take it from him. It’s an easy conversation:

“Will, you’re our backup point guard. If you’re shooting 54 percent, as you have been this entire month, we certainly want you to look to score. But what’s going to keep you on the floor is running the offense, finding teammates and playing unselfishly. We don’t want you to look over your shoulder. Don’t fret the mistakes, you’ll get the opportunity to play through them. You don’t have to score 20 points a game to have a role here. Be comfortable, play freely. We love your heart and how hard you play. Keep it up.”

That simple. Bynum has had to fight for every inch in the NBA. He’s been all over the world trying to turn himself into a NBA player. His constant fear is that he won’t get the proper chance to show his game off, and that translates to his on-court demeanor — he plays as if this is his shot to prove to everyone watching he belongs. The Pistons really haven’t done a good job showing him that he’s a valuable piece to this team, and consequently, he still sometimes plays like a guy on a 10-day contract fighting for a roster spot. What the Pistons need from him is to slow down a tad and, hopefully, have some of his style and enthusiasm rub off on some of his less enthusiastic teammates.

And sorry PCB, it’s patently ridiculous to criticize a guy who just had 21 points, six assists, 0 turnovers and shot 60 percent. Even if Bynum made a bad play or two, guys like Prince or Daye who gave absolutely nothing had a lot more two do with the Pistons losing than anything Bynum did.

27 Comments

  • Feb 22, 201111:35 pm
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    So the rumor is that Golden State and New Jersey are near agreement to trade Dan Gadzuric and Brandan Wright for Troy Murphy and 2012 second round pick. Surely we can offer something better to get Murphy for his expiring contract. How about CV & Wilcox a second round pick for Murphy.
    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=4l9satv

    • Feb 23, 20119:02 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      New Jersey doesn’t want to take on salary for Murphy. Gadzuric and Wright are both expiring deals.

  • Feb 22, 201111:57 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    it’s hilarious that all these fans are working fifty times harder at playing fantasy GM in vain than our real GM is at doing his real job of not ruining this team.
     
    +1 on the bynum bit.
     
    and why did you think i would have laughed at your 40-42 prediction?? it’s still mathematically possible. why is everyone so darn negative around here? golly gosh gee whiz. everything’s coming up roses, i say!

    • Feb 23, 201112:13 am
      by gmehl1977

      Reply

      It seems like every other team in the league is managing to do something except the pistons. I think your right about the piston fantasy GMs Laser. If we can all see these logical scenarios then why is Joe just sitting on his ass doing nothing? Why i ask you? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

      • Feb 23, 20111:31 am
        by Laser

        Reply

        because joe is stubborn? refuses to wave the white flag on a season EVER, even if it would position the team to be considerably better next season? and even when to stand pat virtually guarantees a step backwards next season, unimaginable as that may sound. maybe he’s actually stupid enough to believe the hype he spews about the team being 20 games better with a few more lucky bounces, or that a sudden bolt of lightning will come and team chemistry will appear overnight, even though there’s been no progress at all yet after 130 games? maybe he’s so sure of his own abilities to build a winner that he’ll keep this “winner” together forever, no matter how bad it is? maybe he’s so blinded by individual talent that he can’t see how bad this mix is? i don’t have any answers, but the man has to be stopped.

    • Feb 23, 20118:25 am
      by detroitpcb

      Reply

      you know Hayes, that game was not lost by Austin Daye missing two open three pointers. It was lost when Houston had a one point lead at 95 to 94 and Will Bynum drove the left side of the key and put up an absolutely stupid shot and then the next time down off a turnover Ben Gordon threw up a jackass shot on the break. Those two sequences lost the game for the Pistons.

      Nice comments about Prince and Battier.

      And Patterson is a repetative theme because the Piston guards, particularly Will Bynum and Ben Gordon, do not stay in front of their men, allowing penetration. And when the Piston bigs rotate – which they do pretty well – the guards never finish their rotations to help out.

      • Feb 23, 20119:03 am
        by Patrick Hayes

        Reply

        Plays early in the game have just as much impact as plays late in the game. So yes, I would say that a poor combined shooting night from Prince/Daye contributed more to the Pistons losing than Bynum’s overall great game.

        • Feb 23, 20114:37 pm
          by Laser

          Reply

          yeah, this is insane. maybe if we had a starting PG and C who were capable of contributing in the fourth quarter we wouldn’t have to point the finger at a bench player who was the best piston by maybe a mile for one bad play.
           
          also, this psychotic attitude that one play here or one bounce there cost the piston this or any game has to go. as long as that’s the attitude, we should stay the course, because we’ve been in so many close games where a play or two here or there would have been the difference. i mean, it so happens that we’ve lost nearly all of these games, but let’s not try to trace the source of the problem. rather, let’s just hope for better bounces.
           
          OR, in the alternative, we could look a little deeper. the team sucks and manages to give away game after winnable game. basketball tends towards close games, so teams will usually exert just enough effort to win. for instance, nobody leaves their starters in to play fourth quarters in games that are well in hand just to show how lopsided games could be. a win is a win. teams conserve energy over the course of the season. if bynum had made that shot AND gordon made his, chances are the pistons still would have found a way to lose this game. get a clue.

  • Feb 23, 20111:22 am
    by acdctime

    Reply

    Why not Bynum and tmac together on during some stretches?. I think Bynum at SG with Tmac at the point.SAure Bynum is small, but he can beat peole off the dribble with ease and he can play his naturl game which is to score

  • Feb 23, 20111:55 am
    by justin

    Reply

    BG and CV for Aaron Afflalo

    • Feb 23, 20112:31 am
      by gmehl1977

      Reply

      I luv the irony here. We trade the 2 guys (BG & CV) which were signed from the money made from the guy traded away (Billups) for the guy (Afflalo) who we should of kept in the first place. In an alternate universe out there somewhere Joe Dumars spent 2/3 of the money saved by letting Iverson expire on Boozer and the other 1/3 on say Samuel Dalembert. He also didn’t trade away Afflalo. He did pick Daye & Jerebko but instead of picking Summers he took Blair. Unfortunately in this universe we might not of got Monroe but lets just assume we did which would leave us with:
      Stuckey, Bynum, Hamilton, Prince, Afflalo, Jerebko, Boozer, Dalembert, Wallace, Daye, Blair, White, Wallace.
      Nothing to get too excited about but at least a 5th or 6th seed in the east.

      • Feb 23, 20114:40 pm
        by Laser

        Reply

        “nothing to get excited about?” i’ve got a half chub just looking at those names.
         
        also, no offense, but it’s absurd to talk boozer. you want to criticize joe and talk about what may have been, leave boozer’s name out of it. he could not be had. talk about people joe could have gotten but didn’t. there’s no shortage.

  • Feb 23, 20115:02 am
    by JoshB

    Reply

    I always find it kinda funny how we come up with all these great trade scenarios, and then can’t understand why they aren’t happening in real life. It’s like there’s this assumption that if you just want to make a trade happen then it will. No matter how stubborn he may seem, Joe as traded away plenty of his mistakes in the past if nothing but for draft picks. Maybe the problem is that other very smart people in the league see how crappy our “assets” are, and they just don’t wanna make a deal.

    • Feb 23, 20115:22 am
      by Tom Y.

      Reply

      gmehl1977, I agree that we tend to think as if every idea we have should materialize… I certainly tend to do that. On the other hand, we do have some assets teams should like, such as Tay to the Clippers (who are strongly seeking someone just like him and offering plenty), or pitching T-Mac to someone looking to boost their playoff run. We don’t have to get much in return for either guy as they’re both probably leaving anyway. So there’s a couple of trades that should happen… unless something’s wrong with Joe D. or ownership is really tying his hands.
      Stuckey should probably have value as well, though it may be better to keep him as an SG or backup guard… and BG should be tradeable, probably.
      In short there are deals that could and should be made.

  • Feb 23, 20115:07 am
    by Tom Y.

    Reply

    I think at this point there’s no reason to not try Bynum as the main PG – even though I was against it before you make good points about the possible reasons for his decision making – and what have we got to lose? Give him minutes and confidence for the remains of the season and see what he can do.
    Still worried about his defense but that could be amended with Stuckey as the main SG and BG coming off the bench or being traded (I know I’m just fantasizing here).
    Also, nice game by Moose, good to see it after some quieter games he had before the break.

    • Feb 23, 20119:07 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Totally agree. He obviously has flaws, but he’s signed for the next couple of years to a below market contract and McGrady obviosly fades some the more minutes he plays. Giving Bynum the bulk of the PG minutes over the course of a couple weeks isn’t going to hurt anything, and perhaps he’d even play more under control in a bigger role.

  • Feb 23, 20117:05 am
    by JB

    Reply

    Stuckey is 6’5″.  I see your point, but he’s bigger than the typical undersized combo guard.

    • Feb 23, 20119:09 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I’ve interviewed Stuckey. I’m 6-3 and he’s not taller than me. I know that he’s listed at 6-5, but Bynum is listed at 6-0, and there’s no way he’s that tall either. The Pistons have three guards who are 6-3 or shorter.

  • Feb 23, 20117:23 am
    by gordbrown

    Reply

    To get back to the game, the difference in this game is not mentioned. The free throw disparity. Houston made 13 more trips to the line for 12 more points. Away from the free throw line, Pistons win the game. One of the reason that Prince whent 0-9 was on at least three of his shots he was blatantly fouled (and probably subtly fouled on a couple more). Both Gordon,, McGrady and Villeneuva (at least once) were also fouled in the paint with not call. And frankly the turning point of the game was when the Pistons were up by eight and Kevin Martin lost the handle and virutally shoved the ball into T-Mac’s hands then got it back by grabbing Tracy’s arm. That was a four point play for Houston and got them back into a game they were blowing chunks on. If nothing else it pumped up their confidence that no matter how badly they were playing the refs would “bail them out.” And they did.

    • Feb 23, 20119:10 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Houston always shoots a lot of FTs (Kevin Martin is among the league leaders in FTA). The Pistons are one of the worst teams in the league at getting to the line because they shoot so many jumpers. Under those circumstances, a free throw discrepancy is not surprising.

      • Feb 23, 20119:46 am
        by gordbrown

        Reply

        Doesn’t excuse the fact that the replay clearly showed the Martin had lost control of the ball long before there was any contact between the two players. And I noted the plays I was talking about (not so much Tay but the others) were all in the paint. Maybe the Pistons shoot a lot of free throws because they know other teams have carte blanche to foul them when they drive. I know and have argued that the team should and at some point has got to try to rise above it, but one of the biggest problems the Pistons have is after a while the biased refereeing has got to take effect on your psyche.

        • Feb 23, 201110:47 am
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          The overwhelming majority of their FG attempts are jumpers. Jump shooting teams just don’t get calls.

          Stuckey and Bynum are their only two players who consistently attack the basket. Stuckey gets to the line a reasonable amount. Bynum tends to twist away from contact rather than plow into people like Stuckey does, so Will doesn’t get many calls.

          Jump shooting teams just don’t get to the line. It’s how the NBA has alwasy been.

  • Feb 23, 20118:56 am
    by jgk281

    Reply

    Why no mention of the most glaring issue from last nights game – Monroe being benched for the 4th Qtr?

    Your most productive player, who has a 12/12 dbl-dbl through 3 qtrs, doesn’t get 1 sec in the 4th qtr of a close game at home?

    Kuester is breaking new ground every game.

    • Feb 23, 20119:13 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I mean, I’m at the point where I don’t bother getting outraged enough to mention the insane substitution patterns anymore. Why didn’t Monroe play the fourth? Why doesn’t Wallace, the team’s best defensive frontcourt player, ever play a fourth? Why wouldn’t he try a three guard lineup earlier in the game, when all three guys had it going, rather than waiting until the final minutes when the lead was already blown?

      I have no answers. Very little about the substitution patterns has ever made sense.

      • Feb 23, 20119:32 am
        by jgk281

        Reply

        lol, very true.

      • Feb 23, 20119:47 am
        by steve - battle creek

        Reply

        but that is the biggest problem on this team the SUBSTITUTION PATTERNS!!!  no one knows what there roles are!?!?  this is the constant theme from the players confusion of roles, who’s starting, who’s in the rotations.  its FREAKING RIDICULOUS!  if maybe we bring monroe back he can slow patterson down and get more ez baskets.  maybe if we take bynum out the ball will move, sometimes its not about assists, but ball movement!
        the coach must go!!!

  • Feb 23, 20119:38 am
    by steve - battle creek

    Reply

    kuester needs to go now!!   monroe having a monster night 12 12 in 3 quarters and doesnt play the entire 4th quarter, for CHRIS WILCOX!?!?!?   left bench in after starters got the lead and didnt go back to them!  ugh!

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