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Pistons can’t keep Alonzo Gee off the offensive glass in loss to Cleveland

With :45 seconds to go in a tie game, the Pistons forced a missed layup by Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving. The 6-foot-6 Alonzo Gee snuck in and grabbed an offensive rebound.

With :25 seconds to go in a tie game, Gee missed a short jumper, grabbed the offensive rebound and dunked it to put Cleveland up two.

Of course, by that point in the game, Cleveland had all but assured they were going to win after erasing a 17-point Pistons second half lead, capping things with a 35-23 fourth quarter. The problems for the Pistons were simple ones. Their defense was at its best when Ben Wallace, Damien Wilkins and Jason Maxiell were on the floor. That group helped put the clamps on Cleveland in the second quarter, allowing the Pistons to take control. Unfortunately, that lineup couldn’t score. Their offense was at its best with Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Greg Monroe on the floor. Unfortunately, they weren’t stopping anyone, particularly Kyrie Irving (8-for-15, 25 points, 5 rebounds 8 assists, 2 steals) and Antawn Jamison (11-for-22, 32 points, 10 rebounds).

In hindsight, it was a mistake for Lawrence Frank to go back to that defensively active unit of Wallace, Wilkins, Maxiell, Will Bynum and Ben Gordon that helped spark the team a bit in the second. I understand why he did it — his main scoring threats in the starting lineup were horrid defensively and Tayshaun Prince was just plain horrid at everything he did. It was still a mistake though. Cleveland got hot and the Pistons didn’t have an offensive weapon to speak of in the game since Gordon was having an off night.

For three quarters, the Pistons continued to look like a hungry, improving young team that would be formidable soon. But much like their last loss to a bad team, the Washington Wizards, the Pistons built a lead only to watch the opposing team pretty easily pick apart their defense while their offense went cold. Oh, and did I mention how terrible Prince was? Because he was really really terrible and still kept shooting kind of a lot. The Pistons continue to play not terrible basketball, but this game was a perfect example of why that * ahem * playoff talk was premature. The Pistons weren’t as bad as they were early in the season and they’re not as good as they looked over the last 10 or so games. That all adds up to a team that is still bad. They’re improving, there has been none of the dissension that marred the last two seasons, the young guys are playing a lot and a couple of their pricey veterans — Maxiell and Gordon — have had good enough moments to show that they can still occasionally be competent rotation pieces. Everyone should be pretty satisfied with those results for now.

A tale of off-shooting nights

Three Pistons shot the ball pretty poorly: Gordon (although, in fairness, he did hit a couple of jumpers late helping keep the Pistons in it), Prince and Jonas Jerebko.

There was a big difference between what the three players contributed, though. Jerebko shot 4-for-12, but still made offensive contributions namely through is five offensive rebounds. He also had an assist and a steal and didn’t turn it over. In short, he found a way to make himself useful even though his shots weren’t going in.

Compare that with Prince and Gordon. Prince had four assists and, as always, took care of the ball. But he didn’t play particularly good defense — Prince couldn’t deal with Gee’s activity and, like the rest of the team, struggled the few times he was matched up with Jamison when the Pistons went small and Prince played some four late. Prince’s biggest issue was his over-involvement in the offense. Jerebko shot poorly, but wasn’t out there looking for his own shot. He missed a few from close range (including two that were blocked) and most of his misses were open looks that he should always take. Prince often looked for his own shot even on a night when it wasn’t falling, and making matters worse, the Pistons had three players on the court with him most of the time in Monroe, Knight and Stuckey who were shooting really well. I’ve harped on this all season, but here goes again: Prince was brought into to be a steadying, veteran influence on a young team. Fine, whatever, I’m OK with the concept even if they paid too much for that kind of luxury. But part of being a smart, steadying hand on a young team is understanding when you should defer. Prince is, at best, a third option on this team and, when the team plays its three guard lineup with Gordon, he really should be the fourth option. He’s still behaving as a one or two option, and that’s a problem.

As for Gordon, I don’t have a problem with him shooting, even when he struggles. He’s paid to score. The issue is simply that when he’s off, he does absolutely nothing else of value. No assists. No free throws. Sloppiness with the ball (including two turnovers). Stuckey’s play over the last couple weeks has certainly helped make the point moot, but Gordon is clearly entrenched as a reserve at this point. He came to the Pistons because he always wanted an opportunity to start. I think after two plus seasons, there is ample evidence proving he’s in the only role he’s suited for now.

Forgot about Greg?

With everyone’s hearts pitter-pattering over Stuckey’s resurgence over the last week has taken some of the focus off of the man who was basically the only positive on a game to game basis for a good chunk of the season. Monroe showed once again that he’s still the Pistons steadiest and best offensive player. He threatened a triple-double again — 19 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists — and once again was probably robbed by a few teammates who had a tough time knocking down open shots. The offense was at its best running through Monroe and although he was part of a frontcourt that was dismantled by Jamison, he came up with three steals, his highest output since Feb. 1.

The Pistons don’t have a point guard

After the Kings game Saturday, noted troll/screen name abuser robertbayer/Bob Bayer/Kagiso Edwards/at least one more different name that I’m forgetting tried to take me to task for not mentioning the role Stuckey playing shooting guard has had in his improvement.

I don’t mention it because it’s nonsense. Tonight’s game was a perfect example. Stuckey is not a full-time shooting guard because Knight is not anything resembling a point guard yet. Against the Cavs, Knight shot the ball really well, obviously hyped to play against his rival Kyrie Irving, which dates back to high school when Irving and Knight were the No. 1 and No. 2 prospects in the country respectively. But if you notice, Knight didn’t really do many point guard-like things. He had three assists and two turnovers, but the offense was initiated by Stuckey as much as it was Knight, and a lot of it was run through Monroe in the high post.

Stuckey obviously has more freedom under Frank to push the ball (Frank has called him a “one man fast break,” taking advantage of Stuckey’s speed in the open court, something two previous coaches have been hesitant/terrified to unleash). He’s obviously the team’s biggest guard, so matchup-wise, he’s often guarding the opposing shooting guard. But make no mistake, the Pistons aren’t running any kind of traditional offense that features one point guard. Point guard responsibilities are shared pretty equally between Stuckey, Knight, Monroe and Prince, all of whom have significant roles in running the offense.

As Knight develops more, that may change. But right now, it’s inaccurate to call Stuckey primarily a shooting guard.


  • Feb 21, 201210:37 pm
    by Mel


    I don’t expect them to be in the playoffs but I’m happy to see they are playing with energy for 4 quarters.
    Even though they had a loss, they went out fighting, if they keep that effort all season and it becomes apart of their culture, then I’d say look out because things have only clicked for them about the last 11 to 10 games. Byran Scott is in his second year with a first round draft pick and every position  covered. L Frank equals new coach shot season, camp and a team that does’nt have enough real big’s. So I’m not going to complain if they loose to team but give the effort that they are giving, because sooner than later their going to get use to this style of play, and with Moose dishing out 7 assist like he did tonight, look out !
    My wish list: Stuckey and Knight stay aggressive like they are at this point in the season.
    Moose stay consistent with same play as of now just get better defensively.
    Ben G , Shoot don’t dribble, and play defense like you did against Boston a little more consistent.
    Charlie V. get your @ss out there and earn your keep.
    Jonas stay healthy and keep playing around they rim.
    Joe D get lucky in the draft for a big who can block shots , play great defense and score better than Big Ben.
    And with that as long as the players keep buying into the coach principles I believe we will be good for the future.

  • Feb 21, 201210:44 pm
    by gmehl


    This game was like masturbating with a cheese grater…slightly amusing but mostly painful. Anyone that saw the movie ‘The Adventures of Ford Fairlane’ will find that quote funny. On a bright side with that loss maybe i can dust of my pre-made Andre Drummond singlet.

  • Feb 21, 201211:23 pm
    by Jodi Jezz


    I can’t believe we lost this game…That’s all I’m going to say

  • Feb 21, 201211:36 pm
    by Steve K


    Agree with Jodi on this one.

    The game seemed in the bag, but somehow it slipped away. Cleveland started bombing threes when it mattered. And the Pistons couldn’t box out. Very weird ending to this one… and, like PH said, eerily similar to the Wizards game. The Pistons were in total control and then – blink – they’ve lost.

  • Feb 21, 201211:44 pm
    by Wooz


    Typical Cavs-Pistons game. Painful. Monroe had 4 great assists early. Thought they missed a lot of bunnies they were making against the Celtics and Kings. And why so many shots coming up short? Not like they were on a back-to-back. Gordon forced more shots than he had been forcing. 

    Between Prince’s play and Frank’s weird rotations, I really felt like they had decided to start tanking some games. Will make the lottery ball folks happy.  

    Thought the officiating crew was guessing all night too.

  • Feb 21, 201211:45 pm
    by Stuckey and whoever


    I missed most of the forth, which maybe was a good thing.  You would think Prince would be able to hang with all 6’6 of Gee, but might have to make a adjustment on that one next time.  No reason we should of lost this one.  The young stones learn yet another lesson.  Now how are they going to bounce back from a game like this? 

  • Feb 22, 20122:10 am
    by frankie d


    frank has no feel for games and situations and players.
    tonight was a great example of it.
    the old vets – ben w. and wilkins – are his security blanket and he tries to ride them as best he can.
    he has no ability to cultivate talent.
    for someone who does that routinely, look at the spurs and pop.
    tonight, against the blazers, he sat duncan and parker and let his young guys play.  they got blown out, but you can bet they will be better off in the long run because he let his young guys play.
    that attitude is why the spurs are where they are and the pistons are where they are….

  • Feb 22, 20127:28 am
    by shawn brown


    i think tayshaun took alot of shots that he didnt need to.  he was a ball stopper on offense all during the game.   has there been a more annoying thorn in the pistons side then “boobie” gibson. does that guy make shots against any other team?   he has built a whole career out of playing well against the pistons.    i believe the pistons would be better off if they dumped the ball down low to monroe a bit more during the 4rth qtr.   hopefully we will see more of that and less tayshaun jumpers.  

  • Feb 22, 20128:17 am
    by Daye and Knight


    Playoff talk was DEFINITELY premature. This team won’t make it, not this year…but the Boston Celtics are falling off so there’s a chance they get in within the next 3-5 years with a little luck

    • Feb 22, 201211:16 am
      by Laser


      Are you trying to be taken seriously?

      Without exception, 100% of teams have “a chance” of getting into the playoffs within the next 3-5. What a meaningless thing to say! The longest you can sign a player is five years, so there could easily be complete roster turnover in that time frame.

  • Feb 22, 201210:22 am
    by Casey


    They played hard, there were alot of good things. Monroe is good but not dominate, yet. So excited for him. Great core in Knight, Stuckey, JJ, hopefully Daye. Another close game with a loss if you do this all season and get a Davis or Robinson on the team. Cut CV. Another year with Frank.


    Robinson or Davis pick _ Max

  • Feb 23, 201212:02 am
    by robert kagiso


    Aha Patrick, sorry to hear when people disagree with you, they get labeled as trolls … At any rate, you are forgetting that it is not just that Stuckey doesn’t have to be over-burdened at PG … .but also that he gets to play with a REAL PG .. abeit .. a very young and inexperienced one, and so do the rest of Pistons… Other players have more than once commented on how good it feels to have a real PG again on the team.  It is not sufficient for you to simply say, well, I think Stuckey is probably an unreliable NBA player no matter where he plays, for several reasons. First, the rest of the team will suffer, and it has, with the position of PG being a complete mess for 3 seasons.  Secondly, could not the Pistons at least TRY to put Stuckey back where he started out so strongly at SG?  You would think that, fact 1, RS plays well at SG, and then fact 2, RS doesn’t play well at PG, would lead to this conclusion:  PUT RS back at SG with a good PG and lets see if that works! But not in your mind, .. nope .. absolutely not going to be considered.   So we are supposed to wait forever until Piston journalists like you came out and simply say the truth that Stuckey should not be playing PG? ….. It has been 3 years and you still won’t do that and your reasoning is because you just wonder whether Stuckey is even a reliable NBA player period. Why does such a process take 3 seasons? Could it be that Joe Dumars was simply being stubborn about validating his mistakes of (1) picking Darko,  and (2) trading Billups away for poison AI?  If Stuckey could become a good PG then both those mistakes (Darko traded for the pick that got us Stuckey), then all is well and Joe D looks good.  So when it was apparent that Stuck just couldn’t hack it at PG, somewhere along the line during that 3 years time span,  where were you, the Piston analyst suggesting maybe the Pistons should be drafting PGs like Ty Lawson instead of SF / SG 6-11 Austin Daye?  But oh wait a minute.. Stuckey is our PG! We don’t need to draft any more PGs!  Joe Dumars said so and he is going to run this difficult transition into the ground because he wants to vindicate past dumb decisions.  And that is where sports writers such as yourself fail their profession and even the team they cover when they refuse to make the simple call simply because they are afraid of biting the hand that feeds them, Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons, and so they never have the guts to state the truth. If you and other Detroit Piston writers could do this more often, maybe Joe Dumars would not be just starting to come out his GM stupor in trying to make up for making such terribly dumb decisions in the first place.  And for the record, I do not think you can rule out the possibility that 3 seasons of Stuckey NOT getting NBA experience at his natural position (SG), while being forced into a difficult one (PG),  has indeed hurt his confidence, attitude, and progress as an NBA player.  So it was all a big waste and these days RS is somewhat like his teammate rookie Brandon Knight, learning on a game basis just how to get settled into playing his natural position well in the NBA.

    • Feb 23, 20129:35 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      Boom, is this screen name number five?

      No man, you aren’t a troll because you disagree with me. Some very smart commenters disagree with me frequently and raise good points down here.

      You are a troll because you have registered multiple screen names that you comment from. Only insane people do things like that. It’s really a ban-able offense on most sites, but I find the sheer number of names you’ve created to be highly entertaining, so I let it go. You are also a troll because the next time you raise a valid, lucid, well-reasoned argument will be the first time.

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