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The Bens bail out Pistons in win over Orlando

It was pretty clear early on that I’d be leading off tonight’s recap talking about Ben Gordon. His shot was falling early, he was aggressive and he was Detroit’s main offensive threat in Monday’s win over Orlando.

But then another Ben asserted himself with an even more improbable performance and now Gordon will have to share the intro with Ben Wallace. I have no idea how Wallace, at 37-years-old, is still capable of confounding Howard, a freak of an athlete and the best center in basketball. With Greg Monroe in early foul trouble and his replacement, Jason Maxiell, picking up two early fouls as well, Wallace came into the game and gave Howard and the Magic a variety of looks defensively. He fronted the post, he fought as Howard tried to establish post position, he shifted between bodying up Howard and pulling his weight away to get Howard off balance. Most importantly, he terrorized the Magic by getting in passing lanes. Wallace had five steals and several deflections while making it really difficult for Orlando’s guards to get the ball to Howard.

Monroe had asserted himself as Detroit’s best player so far in the season with his play over the last three games. With Monroe a non-factor due to foul trouble, it was a huge lift for the Pistons to take their most important player out of the game and not lose much.

As for offense? Gordon handled that, scoring 26 points on 8-for-15 shooting. He’s notoriously streaky, so I’m not ready to declare the old Chicago version of Gordon coming back alive. I am really excited about his early-season performance, though, and not because of his scoring. Gordon has become a much more efficient passer. He had six more assists against Orlando and is averaging more than four per game so far this season. He still takes bad, contested shots sometimes — that was a staple of his game even in Chicago — but he’s reeled them in some compared to his first two Detroit seasons (perhaps with more minutes and a large role secured, he doesn’t feel as much pressure to jack bad shots when he gets on the court). He’s turning it over a bit less and not over-dribbling.

Plus, against the Magic, he and Rodney Stuckey played pretty good defense. Orlando’s starting guards, Jason Richardson and Jameer Nelson, shot a combined 2-for-10 and their top guard off the bench, J.J. Redick, was 3-for-10. Now, defending that trio isn’t exactly defending Derrick Rose, but Gordon and Stuckey both contested jumpers all night, a positive sign for both players.

The Pistons had a handful of two-game winning streaks last season, but I daresay none were impressive as the two wins they just notched, largely because the team has an identity. Monroe-Jonas Jerebko are an undersized, but hard-working frontcourt. They have a trio of guards in Gordon, Stuckey and Brandon Knight who relentlessly push the pace and attack. And they have stabilizing veterans like Wallace, Jason Maxiell and Tayshaun Prince who have all made important contributions in limited roles this season.

The Pistons were lucky to catch an Orlando team at home on the second half of a back-to-back. That probably reflected why Orlando’s shooting percentage plummeted in the second half. But credit the Pistons for taking care of their homecourt and getting a win over a quality opponent for the second straight game.

Death of the third quarter collapse?

The Pistons not only won the game, they also won the third quarter against the Magic, 24-17. On Saturday, they won it 30-20 against the Pacers. They won it against Cleveland. That’s three of five games the Pistons have played well out of halftime. It’s still too early to predict that it’s a trend, but it’s a nice change of pace over the last two years, when the Pistons were routinely run off the floor during third quarters.

Stuckey doing what Stuckey does best

Rodney Stuckey didn’t shoot the ball well and sometimes made poor decisions. But he relentlessly created contact and got to the line 13 times and drew Howard’s sixth foul in the fourth quarter. Stuckey’s defense was solid. If he plays defense and gets to the line consistently, he’s a valuable player for Detroit.

Not just jumpshooters

* Laser, this one’s for you my friend.

I have noticed a few pessimistic comments that basically insinuate the Pistons are a team of streaky jump-shooters, so there will certainly be games they get hot and look good, but in the games they don’t, things will get ugly. I don’t entirely disagree with the premise, but in the two Pistons wins this season, it hasn’t been just the jumper propelling them. They have been attacking and scoring in the paint.

One of Frank’s tenets he’s preached to the team has been protecting the paint on defense and owning it on offense. Against Orlando, they out-scored Orlando 34-30 in the paint. They out-scored Indiana 48-40 in the paint. They out-scored Boston 38-32 in the paint. The Pistons don’t have a traditional back-to-the-basket scorer, but they’ve been compensating with guards who have been attacking and big men who are active and crash the offensive glass.

Speaking of the frontcourt …

Monroe only played 22 minutes because he got in early foul trouble and he still finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. Jerebko wasn’t the offensive force he was against Indiana, but he still had 8 points, 10 rebounds and was robbed when a clean block of a Ryan Anderson breakaway dunk in the first half was inexplicably called a foul. Dwight Howard finished with 19 points, but he only had seven rebounds and blocked only one shot.

Jerebko drew an offensive follow late in the game by taking one of Howard’s huge elbows to the chest. Both Monroe and Jerebko grabbed tough defensive rebounds late as the Magic launched jumpers and sent Howard (before he fouled out) and others crashing at the offensive glass to try and trim the deficit.

With more performances like this, people will stop talking about the Pistons’ frontcourt being undersized.


  • Jan 2, 201210:10 pm
    by Cliff


    oh my god. what a win!

  • Jan 2, 201210:23 pm
    by gmehl1977


    The first time in a long time i can say we won and executed a structured game plan. Everyone who played tonight contributed something. They were fun to watch tonight because they hustled and executed efficiently. The important thing now is to not get too excited and just move onto the next game and build momentum. 2 other things i got out of this game were 1) Daye should be sent to the d-league to get some confidence 2) CV makes a great bench ornament…albeit a very expensive one!

    • Jan 3, 20122:01 am
      by Laser


      Are you seriously worried about getting too excited? About that game??
      The only risk a reasonable person runs of getting “too excited” about that performance is if they expect the team to work hard and play together and be competent, because that’s the only thing that happened in this game that actually meant anything. The win means nothing compared to a competent performance.

      • Jan 3, 20125:22 am
        by gmehl1977


        Oh Laser how i have missed you and your witty comments. I am just glad to see progress with this team, even if it is only a couple of good games they have strung together. I know there are big holes with this squad and with each and every win the chances of a top 3 pick get smaller and smaller but i am just glad that they have it in them to compete and beat a team like Orlando who in all essence should beat us. Yeah we aren’t going to make the playoffs but i am not going to apologize for being happy about the team showing progress.

        Happy new year btw

        • Jan 4, 201212:59 am
          by Laser


          I have no respect at all for Orlando, but yes they should beat us every night.
          And a happy new year to you, old friend.

  • Jan 2, 201210:31 pm
    by Steve K


    Agreed. They WERE fun to watch. All the players functioned well in their roles. Even Maxiell, though we can’t expect him to hit those fadeaway jumpers every game.

    Interesting point, PH, about out-scoring opponents in the paint. I recall that last year Indiana drilled the Pistons in the paint in every meeting. It’s where most Pistons fans learned the name “Roy Hibbert”. I can’t believe they actually outscored them on Saturday.

  • Jan 2, 201210:47 pm
    by BIG MARV


    Hustle, Hard work, Determination = A victory, good win Detroit

  • Jan 2, 201210:49 pm
    by Micah Wels


    It is good to see them not walk up the court.  I think our youth can do well in a track meet, don’t think we are a team going to put up 100+ a game but still fun to watch.  And dare I say the East is tougher than the west this year??  Its a whole lot closer, and this team should be in the mix for the last playoff spot but it is up to them if they want it.  I like their chances if they put this effort in game in and game out.

    • Jan 3, 20121:57 am
      by Laser


      Don’t let beating an Indiana team that settled for unnecessary jump shots and an overrated Orlando team on the second night of a back-to-back fool you. The Pistons are a prohibitive long shot to make the playoffs. We’ll have a good idea where they stand after the next 5 games or so…

      • Jan 3, 20129:01 am
        by Patrick Hayes


        Dude … watch Indiana play sometime. They are a jump-shooting team.

        • Jan 4, 20121:01 am
          by Laser


          Oh I believe you, but that doesn’t excuse it. They’ve got too much going on up front to settle for the kinds of shots they took against us and probably take against everyone. It’s pathetic. At least we have an excuse for doing nothing but jack up jumpers, since we have zero inside presence.

  • Jan 2, 201210:59 pm
    by ryan


    Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would fit in so well here. We need to see if we can move Austin Daye for a second first round pick.
    Also I think a ton of credit goes to Lawrence Frank for setting up a game plan and a coherent rotation. We still have lots and lots of roster issues but he’s working with what he has.

    • Jan 2, 201211:14 pm
      by Jacob


      I agree with giving Frank credit, particularly on the rotation. He’s gone with a 3 guard rotation, and even though I love Willy B, that’s provided continuity in the backcourt. And even though Daye shows a lot of potential and CV31 is making $7mil/yr he kept both on the bench while the frontcourt was holding their own. A consistent rotation is something that hasn’t been seen here in a while and it seems like Frank isn’t afraid to bruise some egos to find one.

  • Jan 2, 201211:21 pm
    by Max


    I love how the Doomsday guys suddenly have little to say.

    • Jan 3, 20121:54 am
      by Laser


      Yeah, I just got here. Look down.

  • Jan 3, 20121:53 am
    by Laser


    Well, the team played well. That’s for sure. I could probably watch efforts like this on a regular basis without groaning myself into a coma. Then again, I’ve never had much respect for Orlando because they’re a band of shiftless jump shooters with occasional paint attacks and a beast in the middle. (Howard should probably win MVP every season simply because of how the team is structured around him.) I feel like in any given season it would be literally impossible for this team to win a championship, and they were on the second night of a back-to-back, so the win is less impressive than the Pistons’ performance, which was encouraging.
    On Ben Gordon: Thing is, he was great, but he needs to be this great on a regular basis to justify his contract, and forget about him ever having actual value relative to the money he earns. But he’s useful in this system, which is more than I could say before. Any of you ninnies who thought he was washed up or some half-cocked theory that ignored the myriad problems facing this team will see enough of this to know you were very wrong. He’ll never live up to that contract, but at least he seems useful in this system, which is a leap in the right direction. The problem is that he’s dribbling his way into separation and taking those same contested shots, and he’s hitting basically all of them. He’s not always going to hit them like this, and I’d rather see him get better shots. That’s not realistic on this team, since our guards are going to draw all the attention until we can give teams something else to worry about. In other words: If Gordon isn’t as hot as he was, we don’t win. And he won’t usually be this hot. If he is, God bless him, but boy does he work hard to take tough jump shots.
    Maxiell was a monster, too. He was really great in bursts, which is the most you can ask of him. I don’t think we win if he doesn’t play as well as he did, either. Which is another anomaly that led to the win that can’t be relied on. So we’re going to have these kinds of games where a few guys give truly special performances, and that’s basically the only way we’ll be able to win games against playoff teams.
    But the thing that bothered me most is that we’ve got guys like Daye, Villanueva and Bynum chilling out on the bench smoking a fat bowl. For every reason under the sun, we need to test Daye; wins aren’t nearly as important as getting better in the long view, and this guy needs some burn. If he’s only sitting so he can absorb some fundamentals and learn to focus more or whatever, fine. But I don’t want to see him cut out of the rotation just because he drags the team down. We have nothing to play for at the moment, and Orlando doesn’t have a threat at the 3 that necessitates a defensive specialist, so I don’t want to see Wilkins play while Daye sits. I just don’t want to see it. Also, Bynum and Villanueva equal a lot of talent and money (respectively) sitting there on that bench. It irks me. The team isn’t built to maximize its resources, and that’s a realm problem.
    And for my mandatory negativity, this is basically as good as I’ve felt after a Pistons game in years. They played well and were bearable to watch. I think Wednesday’s game will give us a good idea of where the team actually stands against a top team (which Orlando most certainly is not).

    • Jan 3, 20122:14 am
      by Laser


      Oh yeah, one more thing: Ben Wallace was a BEAST. He neutralized Dwight Howard in dazzling fashion. But anything Body adds to this team needs to be placed in a category separate from “good” or “bad,” because he’s a band-aid. If he retired this summer (which he claims to have considered, and God knows he won’t be around much longer) we lose this game, probably in embarrassing fashion.
      So no matter what we add in the upcoming draft, we’re going to have another hole to fill shortly. Things like this make it very hard for me to get excited about wins like this or the team’s future. What we’re getting out of Body is fantastic in terms of short-term production and wins, but he’s just going to leave that much more of a void when he’s gone. We won’t be adding a promising young big man to this same front line; we’ll be losing our best defender, one of our top rebounders, and a lot of other intangibles when he’s gone. It would be better to put him in a time capsule for when the team has actual use for a veteran big man defensive specialist, but all it’s going to do for us this season is add a few wins to a losing campaign.

      • Jan 3, 20124:29 am
        by Adrià Pagès


        Laser, you only have an INCREDIBLE NEGATIVE point of view!

        Daye maybe was on the bench ’cause Frank told him: “You’re not doing it right”. And when someone is not playing well tou cannot keep him on the court and expect him to play better. Maybe Frank wants Daye to think about his game style and improve it. He keeps Daye on the bench to alarmo him, to make the player react.
        About Charlie, maybe he hasn’t shown anything Frank has asked him to. If you’re a coach and one player doesn’t do anything youy want to, what do you do? You keep him on the bench without caring about the money.
        And of course Maxiell and Big Ben won’t play every game as well as that, then another player (JJ, Monroe, Brandon Knight, Stuckey) will play better and we’ll have a chance to win.

        Man, we don’t win a lot, so let’s enjoy it. LET’S GO PISTONS!!!

        • Jan 3, 201210:58 am
          by frankie d


          laser is pretty much right on target about everything.
          the only aspect i’d disagree with his his view of dwight howard.
          imho, howard is the most overrated player in the league and symbolic of some of the league’s worst problems.
          he’s the high schooler who came into the league with no clue about actually playing team basketball and he’s lazily refused to learn his craft.  you can see his vanity in his weight room results and the totally inane comments he makes about his role as a “leader”, but he’s never taken the time to develop and grow as a player or as a real “leader”.
          the fact is he does not have even one move he can actually rely on for sure points against woefully overmatched defenders.  which is why he can be shut down by smart defenders like wallace and jason collins and kendrick perkins and rasheed wallace.
          that is disgraceful and a huge reason that orlando is so easily shut down by teams that come prepared with a smart defensive scheme.
          he also benefits mightily from the league’s star-system infected officiating.  he runs around the court like a wikdebeast, banging into opposing players, crashing elbows into defenders who try to guard him and setting ridiculously obvious moving screens or picks whenever he sets one.  he does this openly and without fear of too many fouls because he knows that he is one of the league’s fair-headed children and he has to do something truly egregious in order to get called for a foul.  the league wants him on the court and he takes full advantage of that understanding.  like shaq and jordan before, he knows that he can basically assault opponents all game long and the refs will do their best to keep him on the court because they know he sells tickets.
          he does foul out, as he did last night, but last night he played 40 minutes before fouling out.  anyone who conducted themselves as he normally conducts himself would be lucky to play 15 minutes.
          (i’ve been watching lots of raptor BB just to check in on amir johnson, and what is funny is that he is staying out of foul trouble and staying on the court now.  he’s playing the same way, very aggressively, he is still sort of absentmindedly putting his hands on opposing players – a move that would previously resulted in at least one foul a game – but the refs are simply no longer calling all of those ticky-tack fouls that previously made it impossible for him to stay on the court.)
          it is ironic that patrick ewing is essentially his babysitter in orlando.  i was lucky enough to watch ewing play a couple of times, live, when he was at georgetown.  basically, howard, after what…6, 7 years as an nba pro, is what ewing was as a georgetown freshman.  as a college player, ewing was an incredibly athletic, one-dimensional player – a defensive monster who got all of his points on rebounds and dunks and in transition.  he had zero…zero offensive game.  but once he got to the pros, he worked on his game, developed his go-to turnaround jumper and became a very good offensive player.  which was necessary because he lost the amazing athleticism that made him such a great defender in college.  
          unlike ewing, howard has been satisfied basically remaining the same player – with a few more muscles.   yes, howard is a very good rebounder and shot blocker, and because he gets carte blanche from the refs, he is allowed to intimidate and dominate, but in reality, he’s a perfect example of lots that is wrong with the league today.

          • Jan 3, 201211:21 am
            by Steve K

            Good points, re: Howard.

            I never thought about it, but you’re right. He hasn’t grown much as an offensive player at all. He has no reliable jump-shot or move to the basket. He can score somewhat effectively when posting-up a few feet from the rim. In fact, his post-up game is similar to Shaq’s, but he scores a mere fraction of what Shaq scored because he doesn’t have Shaq’s finesse or touch. 

            If defenders allowed Shaq to get into the paint, his little half-hook was going in 90% of the time. For Howard, it’s more like 50%.

            I suppose it’s hard for me to criticize Howard for not working on his game because I don’t know what goes on in practice, but the results on the court would leave one to believe he’s not making much progress.

    • Jan 3, 20128:46 am
      by Steve K


      Laser makes good points. If you’ve watched this team the past few years (and, if you’re at this board, I have to believe you have), you know that:
      - You can’t count on Maxiell to deliver the Orlando performance nightly
      - You can’t count on BG hitting circus shots

      Those two guys were instrumental in the win. I’d love to be wrong about them, but they are what they are. It’s possible that BG may turn a corner and develop into a consistent threat – perhaps he’ll regain the form that earned him the big money contract. Perhaps. I certainly hope so. And perhaps Maxiell will consistently hit his jumpshot.

      Still, what I take most from this game is that the Pistons implemented a game-plan with players working well in their defined roles. We didn’t see any of that under Curry and Kuester. Frank is centering much of the offense around BG and Monroe, and we’ll see how this progresses. So far, so good. 

      As ugly as the turnovers are, I’d rather see the Pistons TRYING to move and pass the ball, in lieu of the stagnant, isolation offense of the past 6-7 years. The hope is that the turnovers will diminish as the players get used to each other.

      As for Daye, it does suck seeing him on the bench. But I just don’t know if Frank has a choice. Frank is trying to build a system and identity here. It’s possible Daye just hasn’t shown enough in practice. My guess is that Daye will see more minutes once the 3-guard rotation settles. Right now, those guards are still too raw in this system. They too often get caught not knowing what to do and they send errant passes to players out-of-position. Daye needs a more structured offensive flow. Then he’ll thrive.

      • Jan 3, 20129:08 am
        by apa8ren9


        I know its early but you can see a pattern of accountability here.  If you dont play well you sit.  (Daye).   You can make mistakes (Knight) but you have to play hard.  I understand the naysayers and we basically wont do anything this year, but you do want to see guys hustling, playing hard and the coach implement a system that maximizes the talent.  Now when the talent gets better and we get that “big’ that we need, the Pistons will have a culture of accountability and a system that will allow us to start winning the way we all want.

        • Jan 3, 20129:15 am
          by Patrick Hayes


          Yep. Exactly. Daye’s problem hasn’t been the mistakes. It has been that he’s been passive and had no energy. In the Cleveland game, he passed up three wide open shots. If he’s in the game to shoot but doesn’t have the confidence to pull the trigger when he’s open, how can Frank justify playing him?

          And Daye has compounded the poor shooting by not really competing on defense, which sucks because he made progress on that front in the two preseason games. Not sure what happens to him between preseason and regular season, but the last two years, he’s struggled big time after solid preseasons. He’ll come around and be in the rotation again, but I don’t mind Frank benching him for the time being.

    • Jan 3, 20129:11 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      “Then again, I’ve never had much respect for Orlando because they’re a band of shiftless jump shooters with occasional paint attacks and a beast in the middle.”

      * Jump shooters who shoot about 40 percent from three every year

      “Any of you ninnies who thought he was washed up or some half-cocked theory that ignored the myriad problems facing this team will see enough of this to know you were very wrong.”

      If you have watched Gordon this year and not concluded that he looks quicker and healthier than he has the past two years then you, sir, are the ninny.

      “Maxiell was a monster, too.”

      He always does OK against bigger centers.

      “For every reason under the sun, we need to test Daye;”

      He was tested the first four games and shot about 18 percent.

      “wins aren’t nearly as important as getting better in the long view,”

      To a coach combating a reputation that he’s a loser based on his NJ tenure? I think wins are more important.

      “If he’s only sitting so he can absorb some fundamentals and learn to focus more or whatever, fine.”

      He’s in his third year in the league and spent the summer training with a top five player. What more could he possibly have to learn by watching? He was given the backup wing spot and he was horrid offensively and defensively for four games. He’ll play again when he starts making shots and/or makes a more passable effort on defense.

      “Also, Bynum and Villanueva equal a lot of talent and money (respectively) sitting there on that bench. It irks me. The team isn’t built to maximize its resources, and that’s a realm problem.”

      Post on Frank’s Bynum comments will be up in a bit. As for Villanueva, Frank and Villanueva have both said that Villanueva isn’t in shape yet due to a summer injury, the suspension and missing practice time to tend to a personal issue. He’ll be in the rotation soon, but they’re not going to immediately throw him out there 25 minutes a game if he’s not in shape.

      • Jan 3, 201212:23 pm
        by frankie d


        @patrick hayes
        can’t really disagree with much you’ve said about daye, except that i think that it is in the team’s best interests to be more aggressive about getting daye on track.  and you’ve chosen to ignore the fact that he was pretty good offensively in boston.
        the scuttlebutt about cousins is a perfect example of why it is so important.  
        as any discussion of a possible cousins trade shows, daye is one of the team’s best possible trade assets.  especially for the first part of this year, until stuckey and tay can be traded.
        it would be really nice if daye was viewed as a productive, contributing player, a 40% 3 point shooter, instead of a guy going through a horrendous slump, while you are trying to use him in any potential trade.  i’m sure teams like sac-town would be much more interested in him if he was getting 20 regular minutes, 8-10 shots a game, shooting the 40% from 3 points that he did last year.
        the odds are obviously very strong that he is going to get out of his shooting slump and return to form.  shooters don’t forget how to shoot.  and once he gets out of his shooting slump, the rest of his game will probably fall into line.  
        often vets will concentrate on other areas, like defense, in order to get themselves going.  it is the rare young player who has such insight.  typically, if their offensive game is not working, the rest of their game suffers also.  so, get him out there, let him keep shooting the ball and get him out of his slump sooner, rather than later.  in fact, he was showing signs of doing just that when frank sat him for the second half of the indiana game.  he’d had the 5-11 game in boston before going 0-3 in 5 minutes against indiana.   
        it was easy to see why frank did so, and i cannot blame him in one sense – he felt it would help win the game –  because daye’s game has been very erratic.  defensively, handling the ball, everything…
        but he is a young player and that is what young players who do not play a lot end up doing.
        (you mention in the bynum post that the pistons’ young guards simply need minutes in order to continue improving.  of course that is true.  but why that same logic does not apply to daye is mystifying.  there is nothing wrong with daye that a legitimate investment in minutes would not cure.  and no, a 4 game stretch that included one good offensive game does not qualify as a legitimate investment.)
        it is why it is so destructive to young players to have scrubs like damien wilkins – michael curry, the second – on a roster.   guys like that really don’t contribute much, they just don’t screw up and therefore the coach knows that they will at least provide a certain stability.  so coaches use guys like that as a crutch.  linus’ blanket.
        imho, it is much more valuable to lose a couple of games and help bring daye’s game back to life.  having a productive daye, who can help win a lot more games, or be used as a valuable trade asset, is worth a couple of games.
        teams like sac-town, might even call detroit asking about him.
        consider this…
        you’ve purchased a new car.  it is a nice car, but you decide that you don’t really want to keep it after a year of driving it.  it just doesn’t fit your needs.   you don’t put that car in the driveway, let the tires go flat, let bird dung accumulate all over it, dirt and dust damage the paint job, and pile up in the interior..  
        no, you take the car to the car wash, have it detailed with the best wax job you can buy, tune it up so it sounds nice and perky when a prospective buy turns the ignition key and put as much money into it as you need to in order to make it a more attractive purchase for a prospective buyer.  investing in it before you try to move it – if that is what you ultimately want to do – will be well worth it when a buyer looks at it and says, yes, that is a really nice vehicle and even though it doesn’t fit your needs anymore, i’ll take it and give you market value for it.
        letting the car rot in your driveway because it isn’t quite performing the way you want it to perform is ultimately self-defeating and ends up costing you lots more in the long run.
        that is what is happening with daye right now, and i hope the folks in charge wake up.

        • Jan 3, 201212:36 pm
          by frankie d


          a legitimate shot is what frank is giving to maxiell.
          daye’s numbers, except for shooting percentage, were actually better than maxiell’s.  he was even rebounding better than maxiell.  but maxiell kept getting his minutes and he is slowly starting to contribute, doing the things he normally does.
          that is, imho, all that daye needs.  the same chance that other players get.  no player ever works his way out of a slump by sitting on the bench.
          that course does nothing but further diminish a level of confidence that is obviously already frayed.

      • Jan 4, 20121:31 pm
        by Laser


        @Hayes: 1) Yes, Gordon appears to have a bit more pep in his step than he has since he got here. But I think there are a few reasons for that beyond physical health. I just never thought it was remotely reasonable to suspect a guard’s physical skills would so quickly and drastically diminish at his age. Especially when there’s a perfectly good explanation because of the awful system he’s suddenly inserted into with no point guard, loads of competition for minutes and shots, etc. It strikes me that in order for him to be effective, Gordon needs to play around 40 minutes and take somewhere between 15-20 shots. Playing under 27 minutes (adjusted for the time Rip was benched) with a quick hook and no chance to find a rhythm, he never had a chance. There was an easy explanation for his decline this whole time, but you and Feldman and others, for some crazy reason I’ll never understand, wanted to guess he was washed up and just plumb forgot how to play basketball.
        Similarly, Rip is very likely to have a bounce-back season. Granted, he’s got competition on the wings, but he’s got a point guard and bigs to set screens, so he’s probably going to have a reasonable bounce-back. The difference here is that he’s three full seasons (to Gordon’s two) removed from having a system in which he had a reasonable chance to be successful, and he’s five years older than Gordon, so at age 33 he’s at the end of the window that’s considered an athlete’s physical peak.
        2) Shooting 40% from three every year is fine, I guess. I just have no respect for their system is all. And if Howard leaves town, this roster is going to be positively frightening. They need a real force down low to draw double-teams and collect offensive rebounds or they’re sunk. Even with Howard, on any given year I give them exactly ZERO percent chance of winning a championship.
        3) Frank’s reputation and all that jazz is all individual accomplishments as far as I’m concerned. We can all see that he’s a competent coach, he’s got a lot of passion, and he’s an infinite upgrade over the duds who came before him. Of course he wants to win games now, so does the team and especially Joe, but that’s not going to do anything positive for the long view of the franchise.

  • Jan 3, 20129:07 am
    by gordbrown


    Early going, and I agree you can’t count on Maxiell and Wilkins to contribute night after night at this level. I do think, however, that the team has room to improve and will surprise people. The Pistons were fortunate to catch Orlando on the second of a back to back. On the other hand, they were fortunate to catch Orlando last year with only eight players, and they still lost. The effect of coaching will become more apparent as the season continues, so as I said, I still see room for improvement. But I would rather see a winning attitude than more lottery balls which will just disappoint you in the end anyway.

    • Jan 3, 20129:29 am
      by Steve K


      Good point. Winning begets winning.

      There was a post a few years ago (I believe when the blog was still on mLive) that proved that playing for top lottery picks was a losing proposition (Minnesota).

      Of course, I’m not saying the Pistons are going to actually be a winning team this year… but they certainly should TRY to win. Not tank the season.

  • Jan 3, 201211:20 am
    by Bradley


    GREAT win! FUN win!
    Immediate thought afterwards:
    “Damn! We better trade that 2012 first round pick, Daye, and maybe Bynum for Cousins NOW! If we don’t and we play close to this good the rest of the season, our draft pick will be lower than initially thought and we may not get that impact big we sooooooo crave! Get Cousins now!”

  • Jan 3, 201212:35 pm
    by Donilla


    Laser needs to put down the big fat bowl he is smoking!  Talking about when Ben Wallace retires we can’t beat teams like Orlando???  These wins mean nothing wait until 5 games or so…???  Its always wait until this or that happens with laser.  Did you even play basketball, how long have you been watching the pistons??  Regardless let the smoke clear dude!!!  Wake up this is a new season.

    • Jan 4, 20121:11 am
      by Laser


      1) I don’t do drugs.
      2) Without Ben Wallace, we lose this game. Period.
      3) It’s probably best you don’t talk any more about me.

  • Jan 3, 201212:50 pm
    by frankie d


    unfortunately, laser’s take on wallace is right on target.
    i’d go a bit further.  i’d say that the pistons would be a much better team, game to game, if wallace started on the front line with monroe.  he is exactly the kind of player monroe needs next to him on the court.  ben’s starting might only be worth 5-8 wins a year, but he would make a positive difference . 
    of course, starting wallace is a huge problem as he is nothing more than the ultimate stopgap.  his mere presence is a sign that joe d has not done what he needed to do in terms of getting good bigs on the team.  and if joe d does not get a new, younger version of ben, the team is going to be in serious, serious trouble when he leaves.

    • Jan 3, 201212:57 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      “if joe d does not get a new, younger version of ben…”

      If only those grew on trees.

      • Jan 3, 20121:22 pm
        by frankie d


        of course, a new ben is probably not going to come around the bend.  but there are guys who could have helped the team that joe has not shown real interest in.
        tyson chandler.
        deandre jordan.  who joe passed on twice, in the same draft,  and instead drafted the immortal walter sleepy sharpe.
        solomon alabi. terrico white was a priority.
        amir johnson.  who is the starting center for a toronto team that is playing good defense. joe gave him away.
        i’m sure there are others.   lots of big guys who would be better than what the team has now, and would have been worth a gamble, have been out there and joe has passed on them.
        sure, ben is a unique treasure, but you have to try to get a guy to replace ben.  joe d hasn’t even been trying.  getting a reasonable facsimile is not as hard as joe d has made it seem.

  • Jan 3, 20125:37 pm
    by Max


    I will never care whether Daye gets minutes until he actually proves he deserves them.  People here talk about it being better to lose more games and develop Daye, but I personally find the goal of improving the culture and doing everything possible to reestablish an identity where the players go into games thinking they will win as much more important that the development of a single player who may not ever be a decent pro.
    Daye actually reminds me of Darko.  He has lots of skills and gifts but when you put him in a game against actually professionals, he has almost no confidence, plays tentatively and generally looks like he doesn’t belong.  Iman Shumpert looked more like he belonged in the league during his first preseason game before he got hurt than Daye has ever looked in my view.  Minutes aren’t always the problem.
    Compare Daye to the current Dorell Wright situation.  He is playing terribly but still getting decent minutes and the reason was that he had a great year last year and finally proved he could be an effective starter in his seventh season.  However, if he doesn’t find his shot soon, they should bench him and consider that last season may well have been a fluke.
    I think Daye and Wright are similar in that they need confidence, but as minutes does not, as some people think, necessarily lead to confidence, there is no reason to treat him markedly different than every other player in the league who must EARN minutes.  If you get minutes and consistently play terribly, doesn’t that lead to less confidence?  Wright deserves minutes for now, both because there is not a better veteran behind him and due to the credit he holds in reserve from having a truly great year last year, but if he goes on like this he will lose his credit and starting role.  That’s how the league works.   Daye has not built up an iota of credit and from what I have seen, he will probably never be as good as Prince or Jerebko is right now.
    A culture where minutes are not earned and players are not held accountable has little hope of eventual and lasting success in my view no matter who the players are.
    Daye and Bynum shouldn’t worry though.   The first five games this year was the Pistons healthiest stretch in over two yeas even as other teams are watching players go down right and left.   I actually think the Pistons should emphasize winning over all for as long as they are totally healthy because it could be the huge advantage they need to have a better season than anyone expects.   That said, I almost assume the coming injuries that I believe will create time for players currently riding the bench.

  • Jan 3, 20126:13 pm
    by Max


    To make the point another way…………I make the assumption that team confidence has something to do with individual player confidence and team chemistry.   Now if the Pistons had played Daye more the last two games and the Pistons were now 0-5, how much less confidence would that group collectively possess right now and how marred would be their ability to help each other?
    If they went 0-11 and Daye finally had a breakout after wasting 20-30 minutes a games for 11 games, wouldn’t it be less relevant and wouldn’t people think he was just scoring in a vacuum on a bad time where somebody had to score?  Wouldn’t people feel like when you play 11 games, you’re bound to have one good one?  Now alternatively let’s say he again has his breakout game during game 11 on a team where he wasn’t getting minutes but his team is rather 5-5 and after his natural, unforced outburst, the team is 6-5.  Wouldn’t his breakout come in  a context of cohesion and confidence that could collectively be built upon and seen as significant versus as just another garbage game where somebody was bound to do something to combat the malaise of indifference that losing and mistakes would have already created by going 0-11?

    • Jan 3, 20127:01 pm
      by frankie d


      what a crock of nonsense.
      put down the crack pipe.  try not to fool around with any more acid.  
      of course playing time doesn’t, in and of itself, lead to confidence.
      regular playing time allows a player to play without fear of quickly being removed from a game if they make one mistake or something bad happens.  this typically allows a player to play with more confidence, because he is not worrying about a quick hook.   and if that player plays with more confidence, he is likely to perform to the level that he is capable.
      and if a player has reached the nba, that player typically does something very well.  with some players, that something is shooting.  as any idiot knows, shooters go through slumps.  and as any shooter knows, the only way to get out of a slump is to shoot.  one cannot shoot and break out of a slump if one is sitting on the bench.
      if one is never able to get an adequate number of shots to get out of a shooting slump, the slump will persist.
      most times, however, shooters who have been very good shooters for most of their lives, easily pull themselves out of shooting slumps, simply by shooting, regaining their confidence and ultimately doing what they’ve done for most of their lives – putting the ball in the basket.
      that is why good coaches will actually encourage a player, especially one who is recognized as a good shooter, to continue shooting, in order to maintain their confidence and shooting eye.
      again, a player cannot do that if they are sitting on someone’s bench.
      there is the rare nick anderson type situation – where a player loses his confidence and his performance suffers – but that situation is so rare that it is noteworthy when it does happen.
      and one simple concept seems to escape some fans.  of course you want to help a player like daye because one wants to see him do well.  but a team also has an investment in players they have drafted and paid.  they are assets.  and an organization typically wants to make certain their assets maintain their value so that they might, say, be able to trade them if an opportunity arises when a good, young center prospect becomes available.
      sitting a player on the bench, as some sort of morality tale, punishing “bad” or incompetent behavior, is cutting one’s nose off to spite one’s face.
      yes, a team tries to get players to perform to the level of their ability in order to help that individual.  but they also do so in order to maintain the value of an asset that they may have poured, literally, millions of dollars into.  good organizations are always cognizant of that dynamic.  bad organizations allow personal pique, a desire to “punish” players for not being good, to enter into their decision-making,  and in the meantime, end up destroying the value of assets they should be maintaining and protecting. 
      so not only is it in daye’s interest that he get back on track.  it is also in the best interests of the organization that spent a first round draft choice on him and has paid him millions of dollars and obviously hopes to get a decent return on that investment, somehow, someway.

  • Jan 3, 20128:22 pm
    by Max


    Prince and Stuckey are two cases in point of young players who must have stayed ready and looked good when the got the opportunity on a prime stage.  They had the mettle and moxie to believe they belonged.  This are Daye’s problems as I see them.
    Daye is much more than a shooter and can contribute on a variety of levels if his head is right and it is about a lot more than his shot.  His body language is tentative, he came into camp weighing even less than he did last year and he probably needs to build his body to feel comfortable.  Missing shots doesn’t explain why he is not challenging shots or getting any rebounds where he has to challenge someone.  For all you or I know, he is having trouble compared with others at learning the sets and is performing out of sync.  What I do see is about a lot more than his shot and everyone here must be seeing it too.
    Last year, he had a great preseason too, started the first couple of games, played awful basketball and was yanked.  This is a case of fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.  The preseason is just not NBA basketball and to think it really demonstrates anything is a lot like pointing to what players put up in the d-league, the euro league or college.
    Personally, I would like to see him get some minutes instead of say Maxiell at the bigger positions in a trial by fire because he would have a speed advantage and an ability to pull big men away from the basket to open up driving lanes for the guards and he would get a lot more open shots–which I think he needs desperately.  However, since everyone and the coaching staff seems to want to play him at the small positions, smaller, quicker, more savvy guards and forwards are staying right with him, swiping at him down down low and making it very difficult for him to ever put the ball on the floor.  He doesn’t have the strength to get any initial position on NBA guards but he does have the shooting to play away from the basket on big men and take them out of where they want to be defensively.  That’s how I see it through my crack in the clouds.
    I do predict that Frank will figure out how to work him in more effectively but I don’t really think it should be more than on a b list of priorities and I’m not really sure how much his trade value shifts either way.  He is a very young 6-11 with an intriguing skill set, a beautiful jumper and a body that anyone looks at and thinks needs filling out.  The player who is directly in his way, Tayshaun Prince, is better than him, a mainstay, and a known favorite of the GM.  Plenty of teams want a player like that in any case because optimists see potential in the unknown.  Daye has had his moments and Darko looked like less at the moment Joe flipped him for the pick that became Stuckey.
    The bottom line is that Daye has gotten opportunities during the first five games and has performed very poorly.  Only the most negative Piston fans I would think are complaining about his getting less PT over the last two games where the Pistons have looked as good as they have in years.

  • Jan 3, 201211:09 pm
    by vic


    the best thing about these games is the shortened rotation. Thanks to coach Frank. It helps bring the best out of the players that do deliver good defense.

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