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Baby steps: Pistons limit turnovers in loss to Nets

It’s foolish to watch the Pistons on a game-to-game basis expecting any kind of major improvements. The team is simply one of the least talented teams in the league and we’re approaching half a season of evidence to back that up.

What they can do is set small, realist goals and accomplish those. In a recent string of blowouts, the Pistons have been sloppy with the ball and turnovers have removed any chance of those games being competitive early. Against the Nets, the Pistons took care of the ball and they hung around the entire game.

The improvement started with the point guards. Brandon Knight broke out of his slump. He was aggressive, penetrating inside, looking for teammates and, most importantly, maintaining that aggression while not getting out of control. As expected, Deron Williams mostly had his way with Knight defensively when they were matched up, but Knight had good moments. He took Williams off the dribble and hit a contested jumper over him early in the fourth quarter, then drew an offensive foul on the other end.

Knight shot the ball poorly from 3-point range, but he played well down the stretch. He made a nice drive inside, drawing the defense, and found Jonas Jerebko for a short jumper to cut the Nets lead to two in the final minute. Then, with the Pistons down three on the final possession, Knight caught the ball and, although he didn’t get the shot off before the buzzer (even though his three almost went down), I like that they went to him and I like that he stormed off the court really mad at himself for missing. Knight had four assists and just one turnover in 43 minutes.

The other element of that point guard production came from Walker Russell. I’ve made no secret of my affection for the guy. He’s maybe the most unselfish passing guard the Pistons have had since Chauncey Billups was around (settle down nuetes … I’m not comparing him to Billups). Until tonight, his passing has been the only real contribution he’s made to the team. Tonight, he finally got his shot to fall as well. Russell scored 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting, his best effort as a pro. He also grabbed six rebounds, played pesky defense (he was really annoying Jordan Farmar) and finished with two assists and no turnovers.

As a team, the Pistons turned it over just nine times, tying a season-low. For lottery purposes, it’s for the best that the Pistons didn’t win. But for their young players, who played hard enough and well enough to win tonight, it would be nice if the Pistons could occasionally pull out a game like this to reward that work. For now, the team should be thrilled that they at least temporarily fixed the turnover issue.

Tayshaun Prince plays better

Let’s get the negative out of the way: Prince is still not doing a good job of making entry passes into the post. Not sure if the issue is him not setting up a good enough angle to get it in or Greg Monroe not establishing good enough position. Regardless, there’s an issue there between those two that needs to be fixed still. Also, I was no fan of Prince’s shot with the team down two. After Knight and Russell created shots through penetration all game and Monroe once again proved to be unguardable inside, the best the Pistons did on that possession was an iso for Prince in which he settled for a contested, fadeaway mid-range jumper. And on the defensive end, down two, Prince and Monroe both let Kris Humphries walk right between them and grab an offensive rebound with :20 seconds left. Now, it wasn’t that big a deal since Monroe tied Humphries up and the Pistons won the jump ball, but it was still a horrid breakdown at that point in the game.

But there were far more positives from Prince this game. He gradually became more willing to move the ball. He made much quicker decisions, which was key. Prince is his most effective when he catches the ball and quickly decides whether to shoot or pass. Too often, he holds. Sometimes, he’s able to slowly work himself into a decent shot. More often than not, though, he over-dribbles, the rest of the team stops moving and he either settles for a contested shot or passes to a teammate for an awkward shot as the shot clock is running down. Tonight, he wasn’t as methodical, and that made him infinitely easier to watch. He took 15 shots, but they were mostly good ones, and he made nine of them. He also had six rebounds and his four assists tied a season high.

The Pistons need to continually work on making Prince a part of the offense while also ensuring that he doesn’t assert himself as the only option.

No answer for Monroe

Monroe got more touches tonight. He finished with 21 points on 11 shots and New Jersey really had nothing for him inside.

Turnovers, though, were once again an issue. Monroe turned it over four times tonight after turning it over six times last night. He also didn’t do a good job boxing out on the defensive glass. There was the aforementioned whiff by Monroe and Prince on the Humphries offensive board. Shelden Williams grabbed six offensive rebounds in the first half and seven for the game. Monroe is a solid rebounder. He has the skill to be one of the game’s best. He still loses focus on the defensive glass too often.

54 Comments

  • Feb 1, 201210:19 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    The Pistons are giving themselves a great shot at Davis and Drummond.

  • Feb 1, 201210:29 pm
    by tarsier

    Reply

    You know you’re in trouble when it takes Maxiell 23 minutes to lead your team in assists.

    • Feb 1, 201210:45 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Maxiell was making GREAT entry passes into the post tonight! Start that man at small forward.

      • Feb 1, 201211:33 pm
        by Frank Lawrence

        Reply

        What are you saying?  that would put Prince on the bench.  hmmmmmmm.  Very interesting idea

  • Feb 1, 201210:31 pm
    by Jacob

    Reply

    Losses like this I don’t mind so much. The effort was there and Knight and Monroe had good games. That’s really what you want in a season like this – the young building blocks continually improving. Meanwhile, is Stuckey still injured? I really hope he is because if not then he’s being outplayed by Walker Russell big time.

  • Feb 1, 201210:34 pm
    by T.J.

    Reply

    You know it’s a bad season when we are trying to pull the positives out of losses, but this was a much better effort than the last few blowouts.  And I am a big fan of Russell’s hustle and defense.

    • Feb 2, 201212:52 am
      by Laser

      Reply

      Bad SEASON? Where the fuck have you been for the past three years? Did you fall asleep in 2009 and just wake up??

  • Feb 1, 201210:56 pm
    by David

    Reply

    Monroe has been on a turnover streak lately, and he’s got to get past that. But one nice thing he has been doing is stealing the ball. He had 4 last night and 3 tonight. They don’t make up for the turnovers, but its nice to see him being aggressive on defense and using his long arms and grabbing the ball out of the hands of opposing players.

    Hopefully he can stop the turnovers and keep stealing.

  • Feb 1, 201210:59 pm
    by Daye and Knight

    Reply

    It’s a win/win for us tonight. Knight, Monroe and Jerebko played well, the game was close, and we’ll end up with at the very least a top 3 pick, only downside is there’s a chance we don’t get the 1st pick where Davis is likely going, and Drummond might stay at Uconn so there’s our only dilemma…time to start throwing games lol

    • Feb 2, 201212:44 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Unfortunately, even the team with the worst record is guaranteed only a top-four pick.

      • Feb 2, 20121:18 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        True but they have about a 55% shot at one of the top 2. And if indeed those are the top two on Detroit’s draft boards, there are still several teams who might choose Barnes or Robinson over Drummond. Can’t imagine Davis not going number one though.

  • Feb 1, 201211:19 pm
    by gmehl

    Reply

    Wow we are the first team to 20 losses. I am pretty sure Shelden Williams had 6 offensive rebounds 3 minutes into the second quarter so that just shows you that we either a) don’t try hard enough on the defensive glass b) are just not a good rebounding team period c) just don’t box out. Rebounding is something you have to want to do where as i think this team just feels they have to do it. Guys like Rodman, Wallace (young Ben), Howard, Love and even Humphries love hitting the glass and you can see it in there eyes. Grabbing a board to those guys is part natural talent and part hustle/effort. I feel like this team doesn’t have any players like this and that in part is why we will continue to lose these close games. Controlling the glass keeps you in games even if your shooting poorly and you don’t have to look back far to when we had Wallace x 2 doing that for us night in night out.
     
     
    I am not going to lie and must admit that it didn’t bother me that we lost tonight because i really want one of Davis or Drummond but i also don’t want this team to get that demoralized that losing becomes second nature to them. A win every so often wont hurt as long as the Wizards, Bobcats and Hornets win some also. On a side not i think it is time to bring back Jonas into the starting lineup. I was all for the Big Ben experiment but admit that it is not working out.

    • Feb 2, 201212:54 am
      by Laser

      Reply

      Second nature, first nature, who’s counting? This team can be penciled in for a loss virtually every night. 20 losses in 24 tries. It takes a special kind of team to achieve that.

      • Feb 2, 201212:45 pm
        by Dan Feldman

        Reply

        Not special at all. Six teams — Cavaliers, Kings, Wizards, Timberwolves, Nets and Raptors — did it last year alone.

  • Feb 1, 201211:44 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    Keep Walker Russell so Knight can learn from him. ( Hustle and floor awareness).

  • Feb 1, 201211:58 pm
    by Anthony Davis

    Reply

    DRAFT ME!!!!!!

    • Feb 2, 201212:13 am
      by Dynamizer

      Reply

      Blocks and dunks!

    • Feb 2, 20121:53 am
      by Mark

      Reply

      Is it just me or is the last thing we need another 6-10, 220lb forward?

      I dont get the Davis fascination. He isn’t going to be a good defender in the NBA with that slight build, and he’s nothing special on offense. He’s a glorified Tyrus Thomas.

      We need to find a superstar with the top pick, not another garbage man.

      Andre Drummond is my choice if we go big. He has superstar potential. Davis does not.

      • Feb 2, 20123:45 am
        by tarsier

        Reply

        He’s a freshman. He’s allowed to be skinny. Also, look more at what he accomplishes than at what his physique looks like. Know who else was skinny and not much of an offensive threat going into the NBA? Kevin Garnett. Dwight Howard. If Davis can come anywhere close to matching what those two did, his presence alone could turn around this franchise.

      • Feb 2, 201210:43 am
        by sebastian

        Reply

        Mark, I’m with you. Draft a Superstar and trust the superstar in this draft is: Michael Kidd-Gilcrist, hands down.
        This guy has all of the tools to revolutionized the SG, yes Shooting Guard, position. He plays the entire floor, both offensively and defensively. He attacks the rim. He’s realizes his abilities each time he plays – his ceiling is high. He is a leader. And, WE must draft him.
         
        During the off-season WE should pursue JaVele Mcgee or Roy Hibbert.

        • Feb 2, 201210:54 am
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          McGee is a seriously terrible defensive player. He is undisciplined, gets out of position because he tries to block every single shot, gives up offensive rebounds and his mom is crazy.

          • Feb 2, 20121:03 pm
            by Dan Feldman

            I think terrible is a bit strong. He’s certainly not the best positional defender, but he blocks shots well enough to make up for it, mostly. He’s not a DPOY candidate like he thinks he is, but he’s at least a decent defender.

            Plus, he’s from Flint.

          • Feb 2, 20121:06 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            I love JaVale. But it is much easier to love him from afar.

    • Feb 2, 20128:23 pm
      by Andre Drummond

      Reply

      Not a good idea. better draft me. i got size and some offensive skill sets.

  • Feb 2, 20121:10 am
    by Laser

    Reply

    To all you Joe Dumars apologists out there: That smug, self-satisfied piece of shit flaps his worthless gums about taking “three years to restock the talent base” or some such horseshit. If he doesn’t start rolling over some fucking assets (like trading Walker or Bynum for draft picks or sending Max to a contender in need of frontcourt depth while the guy’s finally playing good again) are you people going to stop gobbling up his worthless bullshit lip service?? He’s been a fucking DISASTER for four (4) years running, he’s got a never-ending stream of excuses and no accountability, and he’s not doing a fucking thing to put this team in a position to be competitive any faster than if they had no goddamn GM at all! Stop supporting this mess!!
     
    The emperor is bare ass fucking naked. Our “young core” isn’t nearly as good as people think it is, and it’s nowhere near good enough to inspire confidence in the team’s future. Of course we’re going to be incrementally better next year: We’re basically as bad as NBA teams get. It’s a foregone fucking conclusion that we’re going to lose every goddamn game we play. Every year we’re going to add a lottery pick and be another year closer to shedding the miserable fucking nightmare contracts Joe saddled the team with, but these are A NATURAL PROGRESSION OF TIME. Joe could fucking hibernate for the next three years and he’ll wake up to a better team than the one we’re looking at. Just because his mess EVENTUALLY goes away, since league rules prohibited him from signing Gordon, Villanueva and Rip until literally eternity, just what feels like it. But he’s not doing a goddamn thing to make the process any quicker or less painful.
     
    NOT MY PRESIDENT.

    • Feb 2, 20121:32 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      What Dumars apologists? When was the last comment you have seen praising the fantastic work Joe D is doing with this rebuild job?  This is the ultimate strawman argument. Instead of stretching someone’s perspective ad absurdium, you are actually making up a perspective to fight against.

      And yeah, this team is terrible. But you have to realize, this is finally what Pistons’ fans have been waiting 3 years for–for the team to actually bottom out and have a real shot at a superstar instead of hoping to get lucky in the middle of the lottery. I can’t honestly remember, nut I think you were among those of us who ranted on and on about how the Pistons were stuck on the mediocrity treadmill and would be a tenth seed or whatever for years. Well, be happy, that is apparently not the case.

      I understand that there are lots of negatives to be taken from this team. But those are so obvious and boring and not enjoyable as a fan. Try acting like a fan and being excited about the one positive most terrible teams have going for them–hope of drafting someone phenomenal.

      • Feb 2, 201210:27 am
        by Laser

        Reply

        1) If you’ve got anything less than unrest with Joe Dumars, you’re an apologist. Everything he’s touched has turned to shit for the last five-plus years running (JJ being the lone exception; Knight and Monroe do not count, as they’re the exact equivalent of AUTO-DRAFTS). Anybody whose job performance was so resoundingly bad for so long should have been fired by now.
         
        2) Yeah, so we’ve finally bottomed out after three years of misery, but it’s at least two seasons too late. This hasn’t been working for a long time. The comparison has been made to the OKC Thunder, but we’re NOWHERE NEAR their talent base. That team was built on two #2 picks (one of whom could and should have been drafted first overall) and two #4 picks. That’s a young core that can contend for years to come. Two #15 picks, a #7 and a #8 isn’t even CLOSE. There are much better teams than us with that kind of a young core.
         
        3) As for finally getting to draft the kind of impact player who can turn the franchise around, this draft is loaded with potential stars, and we’re only getting our hands on one of them. If this draft is as good as reported, it’s going to make a lot of teams better. Like, most teams. We’re just going to be one of a few bad teams (almost all of whom will be better than us to begin with) that gets better. Why do Pistons fans think we’re so special that we’ll get the one guy who makes a REAL difference while nobody else improves.
         
        4) I’ll stop spouting so much hate when this team starts DOING SOMETHING that time doesn’t take care of. I’m restless as hell.

        • Feb 2, 20123:54 pm
          by Max

          Reply

          I’ve loved Joe Dumars since about 1987 and he’s done nothing to interrupt my love for even a second.  I can’t be an apologist because I never had anything against him in the first place and I understand that there is no GM for whom I can’t nit pick and find some bad moves.

        • Feb 2, 20129:27 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Ok, check that, there is apparently still an apologist who, like many commenters, does not appear to know what the woed apologist means (hint: it’s not one who apologizes).

        • Feb 2, 20129:35 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Also, OKC’s picks were 2 (Durant), 3 (Harden), 4 (Westbrook), 5 (Green), and 21 (Ibaka). Yes, much better than 7, 8, 15 and 15. But nobody compares the Pistons to OKC. The only time OKC is brought up is as an example of how bottoming out can be a good/important thing. Finally, if you are right, and tons of teams get good players next draft anyway so it doesn’t really matter where Detroit picks, then that would just mean that they may well still be on the bottom next year for a continued bottoming out. A) you’re wrong and even in a deep draft there are better players at the top. B) let’s say a decent run consists of 6 consecutive playoffs trips; then you have to be prepared to expect 6 consecutive lottery trips when rebuilding (if you have an average GM). The Pistons are discouraging these days and could have done a better job of rolling over assets, butthis looks to be a pretty average rebuild. Not a record breaking, wow this is the height of GM incompetence, spending 20 years in the lottery rebuild. If 20 years from now, the Pistons have only made the playoffs a couple times at most, I’ll apologize and concede that you were onto something.

    • Feb 2, 20126:50 am
      by Jayg108

      Reply

      Some good metaphors at use here

      You are mentioning 4 years of mistakes, yet Gores might not give a hoot about the past.
      Dumars’ accountability may have been reset at the beginning of the year

      • Feb 2, 201210:21 am
        by Patrick Hayes

        Reply

        Exactly. Gores had all the information from the past at his disposal when he decided to keep Dumars. Like it or not, he’s not being evaluated on the past by the new ownership. That phase is over. They kept him, so he’s going to get more than a year to re-stock or rebuild or whatever they are deciding to call it these days.

    • Feb 2, 201210:11 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      You realize that this is a game recap? What does Joe Dumars have to do with this thread of comments, other than your desire to monopolize the conversation down here and make it about you and how clever you think you are?

      “If he doesn’t start rolling over some fucking assets (like trading Walker or Bynum for draft picks or sending Max to a contender in need of frontcourt depth while the guy’s finally playing good again) are you people going to stop gobbling up his worthless bullshit lip service?”

      A guy who has missed 15 games due to injury is an asset? A power forward who is shooting 40 percent and makes $6 million next year is an asset? A guy who is shooting 30 percent and was in the D-League two weeks ago is an asset?

      I like Russell as much as anyone and Maxiell has showed a pulse a few times this season, but to think any of those three guys have any trade value at this moment, let alone are “assets” is crazy.

      “Our “young core” isn’t nearly as good as people think it is, and it’s nowhere near good enough to inspire confidence in the team’s future.”

      Explain to me why Greg Monroe isn’t as good as “people think he is.”

      Seriously man, sports teams get bad sometimes. Sometimes, they get unwatchably bad. To get as psychotic about it as you do suggests you should probably pursue other hobbies.

      • Feb 2, 201210:31 am
        by Laser

        Reply

        Other hobbies it is, then.
         
        But first I’ll say this: Greg Monroe is as good as people think he is. Our young core, collectively, is unspectacular. The OKC comparison is a flat-out joke. Their core consists of very high, very good lottery picks. Nothing about our core suggests that they form the foundation of a contender. Or close to it.

        • Feb 2, 201210:41 am
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          Who compared them to OKC?! Are you just creating things to argue against?

          Personally, I think Greg Monroe is the young core, and that’s fine. He’s a potential top three big man. They have a legit future All-Star at the hardest position to fill in basketball and should have a top four pick in next year’s draft. That puts them far ahead of a lot of the bottom feeders, even if Knight/Daye/Jerebko don’t turn into starting caliber players.

    • Feb 2, 201210:29 am
      by Doug

      Reply

      I’m a lurker and I generally enjoy your comments along with the comments of most of the other posters.  On this one though, I have to agree with Patrick.  I haven’t seen anybody defending Dumars in weeks, let alone apologizing for him. I like that you criticize him and I like that people who come up here talking about how Dumars should have another chance get short shrift.  But man, come on. 

      Like it or not, we’re stuck with him as the GM this season and he’s probably not going to do anything to make the team better. Bringing it up in every game thread is beyond obnoxious.  Why don’t you put all that seething Dumartian hatred to use exploring legitimate trade opportunities or analyzing how best the players can fit together on the roster as is?  On other blogs, bringing up the same topic over and over again regardless of the circumstances and with a blind eye toward the actual topic of the thread is a legitimate bannable offense called Ahabbing; Dumars is your giant sperm whale. 

      I guess I’m just agreeing with the others here, you should bring something legitimate to the table instead of beating the same old drum. Stop Moby Dicking around, it’s annoying.

    • Feb 2, 20123:16 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      Laser is about as nuts as a bed bug that is stuck in a crack in the wall.   Dude, you need another hobby or therapy or something…….

  • Feb 2, 20126:50 am
    by MrBlockedShot

    Reply

    Well, more ping-pong balls alongside with some improvements is the best combo we can expect for this neverending season (losing games again and again really hurts, even to a fan that has been following the pistons since late 80′s)
    We hope to get a top 3 or top 5 pick and get rid of some players that are no good for this team to grow. That point and de developing as much as possible our young playersis the eishable outcome for this season to me.

  • Feb 2, 201210:44 am
    by brgulker

    Reply

    Brandon Knight took 18 shots, missed 11 of them, and only had 4 assists on a night where his teammates were actually making shots. 

    Yay for only 1 turnover, I guess, but the kid’s an awful PG. He has no understanding of when to stop shooting. When you’re 1-8 from downtown, your best players is 8-11, and your two SFs are knocking down shots after being streaky all season, you pass the damn ball.

    Brandon Knight, IMHO, is the reason last night’s game was lost, not won. If you take 5 of his errant shot attempts and give them to Monroe, Prince, or Jerebko, the Pistons win.

    • Feb 2, 201210:51 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Brandon Knight was shooting 37 percent from 3 going into the game. It’s not like he was taking shots that weren’t good looks or forces either. He was open. Yeah, he didn’t make them last night, but if he gets an open look, he should shoot.

      • Feb 2, 20121:26 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        Why does nobody ever take those stories seriously? As someone who enjoys stats, even though I’m no great shakes at it, it’s infuriating. Whether you are 0-5 or 5-5, unless there is a circumstance particularly causing that result (injury, particularly good or bad defender, that kind of thing), you are equally likely to make the next shot.

    • Feb 2, 20123:22 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      Brandon Knight is having a better rookie season than many a future all star PG had and he’s the youngest player in the entire league so you are being pretty harsh.

      • Feb 2, 20123:29 pm
        by Dan Feldman

        Reply

        He is definitely not the league’s youngest player.

        • Feb 2, 20123:56 pm
          by Max

          Reply

          They said he would be so draft night so he was the youngest player drafted.  If you know an undrafted rookie who is younger, name him.

          • Feb 2, 20124:00 pm
            by Dan Feldman

            Enes Kanter, Kyrie Irving, Tobias Harris and Bismack Biyombo are younger than Knight.

        • Feb 2, 20123:58 pm
          by Max

          Reply

          I looked it up…..they must have given out bad info during broadcast because he is the 5th youngest—and Biyombo is the youngest if you believe his age.

  • Feb 2, 201211:11 am
    by neutes

    Reply

    Russell clearly read the article and comments where I ripped him and then wanted to prove me wrong. I think this is obvious.

    • Feb 2, 201212:36 pm
      by MrBlockedShot

      Reply

      neutes, some more comments from you about Dumars and lots of our players would be appreciated, lol

  • Feb 2, 201212:51 pm
    by apa8ren9

    Reply

    Well they were able to play a team that was as awful as they were.  They gave it a good shot.  I like the fact that they were in it the entire time.  If they lose Im ok as long as they are getting some late game experience instead of being blown out all the time.  Plus it was the 3rd in 3 nights, even though it was against NJ it was a decent effort.  Are the young players getting minutes?  Check.  Are we still losing games?  Check.  Can we amnesty BG in the off season and trade CV? Check.  Is Gores going to get a bigger check of revenue pie in July? Check.  I think this season is a success boys!!
     

  • Feb 2, 20123:25 pm
    by Max

    Reply

    Next year: Twin Towers!–and we’ll see what Laser has to say about that!

  • Feb 2, 20127:25 pm
    by Moe

    Reply

    still we need drummond by all means, davis is washed up

    • Feb 2, 20129:37 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Washed up typically means old and past prime to the point of no longer being serviceable. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn’t mean that. What did you mean?

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