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Greg Monroe stars, Rodney Stuckey sits against Wizards – and hopefully both learned a lot about themselves tonight

This season was lost long ago, and even playing for pride seems unattainable. At this point, many Pistons – several of whom would probably like to join different team next year – are playing for the offseason.

But the franchise is still working toward next season, and right now that starts with Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey.

Tonight would have been more enjoyable if Austin Daye’s buzzer-beating 3-point attempt from the corner – which came two seconds after he hit a 3-pointer to bring the Pistons within one – rattled in instead of out. Tonight would have been more enjoyable if the Pistons snapped their road losing streak at 10 instead of extending it to 11, tied for the 12th-longest road losing streak in franchise history. Tonight would have been more enjoyable if Detroit, which showed plenty of hustle and energy, was rewarded with a win instead of a 107-105 loss to the Wizards.

But none of those outcomes would change the likelihood any current Pistons remaining on the roster when the team next competes for a championship. Hopefully, a couple players learned lessons tonight that will help them fit that profile.

If Monroe didn’t understand what he’s capable of, he should know now. If Stuckey didn’t understand what rock bottom is, he should know now.

Monroe had a career game with 22 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, four steals (tied for a career high) and a block in 43 minutes. Detroit will never be able to count on this much production from Monroe on a regular basis, but Monroe can play this way every game – crashing the glass, defending adequately and working out of the high post.

Stuckey didn’t play for the second straight contest after refusing to enter the Bulls game. The Pistons have already backed themselves into a corner with him. This summer, their two most likely options will be overpaying him or losing a talented, young player for nothing. Tonight, he could’ve helped defend John Wall (26 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, four steals and two blocks). But benching him again and hoping he emerges on the other side a more humble player, a better teammate and a harder worker was probably Detroit’s best bet.

The Pistons have put both players on very different paths, but the end game is the same for both: hoping Monroe and Stuckey learned something tonight.

When tonight’s game ended, the scoreboard showed Detroit’s 51st loss of the season. But we won’t know the more meaningful result until much later.

Greg Monroe’s free-throw shooting improves, not quite enough for a win

Greg Monroe’s key numbers – 22 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block – were impressive, but not unprecedented individually. He had matched each of those marks before, just never in the same game.

But his 8-of-10 free-throw shooting tonight was unprecedented. Monroe had previously never made more than six free throws in a game (shooting 6-of-8 once and 6-of-9 once), and in his best perfect-from-the-stripe performance, he shot 4-of-4.

Monroe’s free-throw percentage has steadily risen this season, and now, it’s above 60 for the first time:

Monroe actually made his first eight free throws tonight before missing two with 10 seconds left and the Pistons down two. If you want a silver lining to the misses, they gave Monroe another chance to show why he’s the most likable player on the team. After the game, he tweeted:

My bad.

Completely unnecessary.

Did John Kuester ignore Tayshaun Prince?

Rashad Mobley of TruthAboutIt.net tweeted:

coach kuester takes tayshaun prince out of the game, prince asks kuester a question, and kuester ignores him

I followed up with Mobley, and he wasn’t sure what Prince asked. Mobley also said Tayshaun Prince and John Kuester interacted more in the second half.

For all we know, Prince asked Kuester, “Why are you so stupid?” But if Prince asked a legitimate question and Kuester ignored him, that’s not right.

I wouldn’t jumped to any conclusions, but it’s worth monitoring whether this anecdote repeats itself.

Solid effort by Chris Wilcox

Chris Wilcox (10 points, nine rebounds and two assists) played well tonight. He’s earning himself more money this summer (or whenever the lockout ends).

I wonder whether his strong second half makes the Pistons more likely to re-sign him or whether he’s playing himself out of Detroit’s budget.

Solid, quiet effort by Austin Daye

Before his late 3-pointer and last-second near-miss, Austin Daye had a pretty quiet game. Daye finished with 14 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes.

I think it says a lot about his progress that he can play that well without drawing a ton of attention to himself. Good games are becoming more routine from him, and that’s fitting of a starter.

Brick City Hamilton

Richard Hamilton must have picked up some of the bad-shooting karma in Houston, where he watched his alma mater, Connecticut, win Monday’s NCAA national championship game. He shot just 1-of-11 tonight.

Hamilton, who also had three turnovers, forced his shot a bit. But he also missed a lot of looks he usually makes.

He’s played very well lately, and I hope tonight’s performance is just a blip on the radar.

Ben Wallace shakes off rust

Ben Wallace played for the first time since March 30, and it showed. He had two rebounds, a block and a steal in eight minutes, which is fine.

But he also picked up three fouls in that short span. Wallace’s specialty is defending without fouling, so when he left the court shaking his head after that third foul, I couldn’t help but think the answer to the headline of my earlier on Wallace is yes.

Wallace didn’t play in the second half, but after the game, he showed more leadership than I’ve seen anyone provide on the team this year. Via Mobley:

monroe almost snuck out w/out talking, before 1 writer caught him. ben wallace joked: "dont act like you dont see them greg, thats wrong"

Ben Gordon injures knee

Ben Gordon (nine points, 2-of-3 on three pointers, in 13 minutes) played fairly well, but he didn’t play in the second half after knocking his knee, according to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News.


  • Apr 5, 201111:33 pm
    by Regan


    What I’m wondering is why we cannot depend on Monroe for this kind of production every game? Of course 4 spg would be ridiculous but think about how Greg played. He didn’t do anything spectacular. He didn’t hit shots he wouldn’t usually make. He just played his game, and we gave him the ball to face up/post.
    Monroe played with savvy, smoothness, and touch which he always exhibits. I could easily see him as a 20/10 player for a couple years if he was given the ball like he was tonight.

    • Apr 6, 20119:05 am
      by Dan Feldman


      He might be able to produce the scoring on a nightly basis, but I meant the overall excellence won’t be regularly repeated.

  • Apr 6, 201112:02 am
    by gordbrown


    I see your general point, but the Pistons lost a winnable game because of spite and a coach putting his ego over winning. One game sitting sends a message. Two games is cutting your nose to spite your face, although I guess winning is beside the point at the time of the season. Plus of course the message will probably get completely lost because of the messenger. Plus we know that Stuckey was insubordinate, but we only have an anonymous tip as to why. Not to mention the fact that Stuckey was relegate to the bench after his best four games of the season, did everything that was expected of him off the bench and more and still wasn’t given an opportunity to move back in as a starter (see my comment below about rats and motivation). I’ve not defended Stuckey’s behaviour (just his performance) but why can’t we all sit back and hope for a good redemption story. Losing Stuckey for nothing would blow a big hole in a team that is already struggling with big holes (1-10 Richard Hamilton, losing Prince for nothing, Jason Maxiel, Wallace losing a step, etc.) Obviously this has helped the Pistons because it has reduced Stuckey’s market value. But sooner or later Stuckey is going to have to be given another chance and the way this is being done isn’t IMHO helpful at all.

    • Apr 6, 20119:00 am
      by Dan Feldman


      Benching Stuckey for one game is OK, but two games is too many? What an arbitrary line.

      • Apr 6, 20117:34 pm
        by gordbrown


        Not so much an arbitrary line as a white flag on a winnable game for what I see as little benefit. The lesson Stuckey is going to take from this is that “if I don’t play the team will lose” and of course the coach is a lame duck anyway. Will it make him behave better for the next coach. Doubtful but I also sincerely hope so. Hope springs eternal I guess.

        • Apr 6, 201110:05 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          The team lost a lot of games with Stuckey playing big minutes too, so I would hope he delves a little deeper than that if he searches for some answers.

  • Apr 6, 201112:35 am
    by jayg108


    I saw a few mental lapses at the end of the game (not running back to defend, missed assignments).  Looks like they’re planning their fishing trips already.
    Stuckey made some comments to the press that warranted an additional benching (about the 6 games left… a lot needs to change…)  Unfortunately, his benching by Kuester doesn’t send any messages unless the benching is clearly and maybe verbally supported by Joe Dumars.
    Stuckey is an alright guy; don’t give up on him.  In fact, I think he’s afraid of confronting Rip and Tay’s attitudes.  Tay, Rip, (and Wallace) are part of the “players know better than the coach” on who should be playing when.  I know I’m over-analyzing this, but I wonder if Stuckey just chose the side of the old guard to avoid any confrontation with them.  I don’t support his disrespect, but I also think Stuckey refused to go in to please Rip and Tay.

    • Apr 6, 20117:27 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      I don’t understand how that would please Rip and Tay? I don’t think they care, to be honest. They’re taking care of themselves, finishing this season without any more fighting and trying to get out of here. I think they have no interest in Stuckey and whatever it is he tried to prove by not going into that game.

    • Apr 6, 20119:02 am
      by Dan Feldman


      I don’t think Stuckey did it to please anyone but himself. Where Prince and Hamilton come in, I think, is on a lot of teams, a player like Stuckey would be afraid to pull a stunt like that, because the veterans wouldn’t approve. That’s obviously not the case here.

  • Apr 6, 20111:41 am
    by Fennis


    Great write up. I think it’s right on target. If Stuckey rebounds next year under competent coaching this will all be forgotten. Calls from Wojo and others to discard him are rash and ill-considered. That said, I don’t blame Kuester at all for the two-game benching. Stuck has to be mentally tougher than he is at this stage.

    • Apr 6, 20119:07 am
      by Dan Feldman


      I don’t think Wojo advocated discarding him. He just said it will be hard for fans to move past this incident, which I agree with. The onus is now on Stuckey to prove he’s worthy of the fans’ respect.

  • Apr 6, 20112:52 am
    by rick


    Stuckey apologists are back in full force now, as if he would’ve made any difference tonight. They can lose with and without him, so why pay anything for him? Feldmans right, they should’ve traded him before, but to keep him now, just to avoid losing him for nothing, if you really dont want him, would be completely ridiculous. If they re-sign him, it will be Gordon, Villanueva, Maxiell all over again, where you pay a bench player starters money and in a year they a stuck on the bench (pun intended).

  • Apr 6, 20114:03 am
    by Tom Y.


    I was wondering the same thing, the points, rebounds and assists are completely withing his ability to produce on a pretty consistent basis, especially if the team involves him more, which I believe they will. He continues to surprise me with the steals – but since he’s done it so often, I guess he’ll keep doing it. BTW, steals are better than blocks as they always end the opponent’s possession and give you a new one, whereas with a block it’s more of a 50-50 situation. So if you’re worried about Monroe’s lack of blocking, remember – he steals, and that’s better.

    • Apr 6, 201111:47 am
      by Tim


      Steals and blocks are comparably valuable. I would favor blocks but either one is context dependent. But blocks are usually on shots that have a high percentage chance of going in otherwise. And I’m pretty sure the defending team gets the ball more often than not. Let’s assume though, that who gets the ball after the block is 50/50, that a typical shot has a 45% chance of going in and that a blocked shot would have had a 75% chance if not for the block (all these numbers are pretty generous to someone who favors steals).
      On a block: So the offense gets a 50% chance of having the ball back and needing to reset to take on average a 45% shot instead of having the 75% shot that was blocked. Scoring chance goes from 75% to 22.5%. Net loss of 52.5%.
      On a steal: the offense goes from having a typical shot to losing possession. Scoring chance goes from 45% to 0%. Net loss of 45%.
      If the defense has a 60% chance of getting the ball back after a block and a typical blocked shot would have had an 80% chance of going in, these numbers are even more in favor of blocks.
      Block: 80% to 18% for a net loss of 62%
      Steal: same as before, net loss of 45%
      Granted a steal also increases the odds of a fast break more than a block does which ups the odds of the stealing team scoring. So that returns steals back to comparable value with blocks. My analysis is kinda simplified. But not taking into account that most blocked shots are high percentage looks really skews the picture a ton more than you might have realized.

      • Apr 6, 20112:02 pm
        by Dan Feldman


        Tim, I appreciate your analysis here, but here’s how I’d look at it.

        First off, your 75-percent figure is way, way too high. NBA players make 64 percent of their shots at the rim, less elsewhere. Like you did, I’ll be lenient to the pro-block crowd and say all blocked shots come at the rim.

        That 64 percent includes shots that were blocked, all of which count as misses. We know six percent of all shots are blocked, and that’s likely higher at the rim. I’ll generously call that 15 percent at the rim, which is probably way too high. So, on non-blocked shots, we’ll say players shoot about 75 percent at the rim (64/85). That’s the same total you use — and although, I think it’s too high — I’ll use it, too.

        NBA teams score 1.072 points per possession. This number includes possessions lost to steals and blocks, so we’ll just say a team can expect to score one point per possession without giving up a steal or block. It really doesn’t matter what number is used.

        So, if a team gets its shot blocked and has a 50 percent chance of getting the ball back, its expected output for that possession drops from 1 to half that, or 0.5 — a loss of .5 points.

        If a team has the ball stolen, its expected output for that possession drops from 1 to 0 — a loss of 1 point.

        With that simple analysis, steals are better. Of course, there are other factors. Two examples, the first of which favors blocks and the second of which favors steals:

        When a team misses on a steal attempt, the opponent is more likely to score, because a defender is out of position. When a team misses on a block attempt, the opponent is less likely to score, because a defender is challenged the shot.

        As you said, steals are more likely to lead to fastbreaks and that bump in expected points on the ensuing possession can’t be discounted.

        Here’s my big question, though. Is Monroe actually sacrificing steals for blocks? Why does this have to be an either/or thing?

        • Apr 6, 20114:43 pm
          by Tim


          Fair enough. I had no idea where to get stats of what percentage of shots at the rim are converted or what percentage of those are blocked. So I threw out a guess of 75%. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a good number for unblocked shots at the rim but its true that accounting for the occasional blocked jump shot would have to lower it to 70% at least.
          I’m not sure whether failed attempts at blocks and steals can be taken into account because there are no recorded stats on steal and block attempts. I;m sure there is correlation between number of successful and failed attempts but the relationship will vary hugely from player to player. Also, block attempts can be equally damaging in that they often put people on the free throw line.
          And it’s true that it doesn’t have to be an either/or. I was just replying to the notion that steals are better than blocks. I would have to have access to a lot more stats than I do to support my theory very well, but I think they are about equally valuable. What I was saying had nothing to do with Monroe in particular. But I would certainly enjoy seeing him get both..

  • Apr 6, 20115:26 am
    by detroitpcb


    Q lost another game for the Pistons by putting his ego ahead of the team. Between coaching errors and his insistence on punishing players who question him, Q is responsible for losing 10 games by my count this season.

    I would remind everyone that the NBA has long been a players league – that coaches who try to make it a college league where the coach is a dictator alla Bobby Knight do not last long. If you do not have the respect of your players, you simply cannot coach in this league and you do not get respect by benching people in the NBA – you just get resentment. Respect comes when the players see that you know how to coach, When you define roles. When you make good in game adjustments. When you draw up late game plays that work. When you communicate what you want each player to do. When you put together a lineup that works and only change it due to injuries.

    both Feldman and Hayes are just authority suck-ups. That stuff doesn’t even work in college. Ask Tom Izzo how his season went after he started kicking kids off the team for what i am told were minor violations of team rules.

    • Apr 6, 20117:25 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      Authority suck-ups. Haha. You’re unreal.

      Kuester is a terrible coach. But sorry, guys are still expected to play hard for a terrible coach. Guys are still expected to follow some basic rules — and yes, going into a game when you’re instructed to go into the game is a basic rule. It’s not as if Kuester is the only coach on a bad team who is dealing with this. How many times has Westphal benched Demarcus Cousins or Flip Saunders benched Javale McGee this season?

      And not to get into a whole off-topic “thing” here, but if you think that Izzo kicked guys off of his team for “minor” team rules, then you’re mistaken.

      • Apr 6, 20118:12 am
        by detroitpcb


        i admit i could be mistaken on the Izzo thing. My knowledge is based on the grapevine – and we all know that can be unreliable. I am under the impression that the reasons were never officially stated by the school, Izzo, or the players – so if you have more knowledge, please share it.

        Demarcus’s situation has been handled really well by Westphal and Sacramento but i think it differs greatly from Stuckey’s in that Westphal has the support of the other players on the team while Q seems to have to have a player he is feuding with – as soon as one leaves his doghouse, another enters. Q does not have support from any of the veterns on the team and Demarcus would have been a disaster in Detroit. Sacramento’s locker room, despite the tension between Evans and Cousins is not disfunctional. On the Pistons, we all know that Tay, Stuckey, Rip, T-Mac, Big Ben, CV, Daye, Wilcox and even assistant coaches have all had issues with Q

        • Apr 6, 20119:03 am
          by Patrick Hayes


          I disagree on Westphal. I don’t think he has any more support in that locker room than Kuester does. He had issues with Carl Landry (a great guy, by all accounts) before Landry was dealt. Dalembert was unhappy with playing time at one point this season, Casspi just said in a recent article that he doesn’t want to return to Sacramento and Tyreke Evans has regressed this year.

          I’m not and would never defend Kuester as a coach. He’s terrible. But I don’t think he’s remarkably terrible. He’s pretty run of the mill as far as terrible coaches go. He’s certainly not terrible enough to have marginal players griping about their roles/minutes. Stuckey, for example, had a large role last season and to start this season. Now, he has a small role. The team is not substantially better or worse when he’s in or out of the rotation. I don’t think it’s worth completely cutting ties with him, but I think it’s very reasonable for the organization to demand some maturity and accountability out of him. Like Feldman said, hopefully this experience gives him some added hunger and motivation to come back next year and completely assert himself as the consistent playmaker this team needs at the guard spot. Whether Kuester is terrible or not, Stuckey has not had a great season and he has a ton of untapped potential that no coach, good or bad, is going to get out of him unless he’s willing to accept greater responsibility for his own development.

  • Apr 6, 20117:02 am
    by swish22


    Stuckey is an absolute cancer who should’ve been suspened for the remainder of the year by Joe Dumars!
    Way too much of this crap has been gong on and until you hit these guys where its most important to them they don’t get it!  Any player who absolutely loves to compete a small no play action will usually work because they WANT TO COMPETE EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY GAME!!  Suspensions and lack of dough might be the only thing that would work with  a guy like STuckey.  He doesn’t have the love of the game or he would always go back into a game unless hurt!!  He doesn’t give a crap about the Pistons faithful fans!!  He doesn’t care about the tradition the bad boys layed down here in Detroit!  He needs to go the way of the dodo bird!!  Kuester is just an excuse for these underachieving players.  Come in and shut Derrick Rose down and win the game was the best thing he could’ve done against Chicago but he took the easy route, stay on the bench and say that “changes are coming soon, we all know it”,  You guys who keep defending him can root for his new team next year!! and you obviously have zero coaching experience to defend an habitual problem like Stuckey.  I like what John Wall said after the game.  Paraphrase, “I want to play hard every single second I’m on the floor, I know I’m only a rookie but I want to leave my mark”  We’ll Stuckey has left his mark all right.  HE’s just a classless selfish player who’s best served when hes in charge!!  Attitudes like that permeate the locker room with negativity!   Shame on Joe Dumars for not getting more involved and suspending this chump!~ It’s not too late, SUSPEND HIM!!!!
    Send his fine money to a local community center where kids are playing for the love of the game! 
    HArd to believe that 3 years ago I really thought with Stuckey and Afflalo we had one of the better young units on the perimeter in the league.  Unfortunately we got rid of the only one of the two that has the love of the game Afflalo! 

  • Apr 6, 201110:21 am
    by Marvin Jones


    Well swish, it’s funny how you call Stuckey a cancer but leave out Rip and Tay, the original cancers. I don’t think for one second you can understate the impact Rip, Tay, Rasheed and Ben’s behavior toward coaches has rubbed off on Stuckey. Excuse or not it’s a reality. Get rid of those guys and Tmac, get a coach in here with a system that plays to the strengths of the core players and knows how to effectively communicate and I think  you’ll see a whole new person in Stuckey. Look only at Philadelphia, who last year had the same record as the Pistons,  now they are in the playoffs and the only major change was the coach. I believe the Pistons can do the same thing.

    • Apr 6, 201112:15 pm
      by swish22


      Marvin, I blasted those guys long and hard when they did what they did.  The original article here is about Stuckey, Villanueva and Summers.  Obviously the veterans on this team are not leaders.  Those of us who are true blue Pistons fans know that for sure!  I could’ve taken 3x more space and pointed this out again but those guys for the most part have towed the company line so to speak since the Philadelphia Experiment Part 2!   I have faith the Pistons can rebuild quickly and compete if some sharp moves are made but some luck will also be needed.  As far as your continued support of a player who I thought was the first one to become demonstrative on the court in the coaches face in the first 2 weeks of the season it was Rodney Stuckey if memory serves me correctly!   I don’t know how anybody can defend Rodney Stuckey’s actions.  See la vee!

      • Apr 6, 201112:54 pm
        by Tim


        “See la vee!”?
        You do realize the term is “C’est la vie” right? It’s French for “It’s life.”

        • Apr 6, 20112:47 pm
          by swish22


          i thought it meant such is life but thanks for the free french lesson Tim,

          Tim S

          • Apr 6, 20114:45 pm
            by Tim

            You’re right. That’s what it means. What I wrote was a literal translation.

  • Apr 6, 20111:04 pm
    by Marvin Jones


    I don’t recall defending Stuckey, just pointing out that he’s not the ONLY cancer on this team and that maybe he caught his cancer from his veteran mentors. I think Stuckey is a talented player that we should keep and once the locker room dynamics are changed and a decent coach employed he will become an asset instead of a liability.

  • Apr 8, 20111:05 am
    by Tom Y.


    @ Tim & Feldman – thanks, as I wrote that about steals vs. blocks I was hoping someone with better knowledge would chime in… I’ve been wondering about it for a while.

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