I haven’t bemoaned losses or celebrated wins much this season, other than acknowledging that a few wins necessary to keep humans from becoming too discouraged. The Pistons would win some games and lose a lot more. I had become detached from their record, because I didn’t think it mattered much this season.
I haven’t assessed Detroit’s different lineups for the same reason. Too many Pistons wouldn’t be with the team when it next contended, so there was no point worrying about who fit with whom.
But wins can be more than just random occurrences. This team isn’t completely overmatched and is somewhat capable of determining its own fate. The Pistons have won four straight games, their longest win streak since winning five straight December 2009.
Some of the players are meshing together, too. Lineup decisions this season could affects future years.
Stuckey (19 points on 7-of-10 shooting with five assists and three rebounds in 26 minutes) and Knight (13 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-3 on 3-pointers, with seven rebounds five assists in a four-foul-limited 17 minutes) didn’t play together much Friday, but they were dynamic when they did. They pushed the pace, shared the ball and shot efficiently. The offense hummed, and the defense, well, was good enough when the offense is churning.
Both also played well with the other on the bench. Knight will have more ups and downs during his rookie year, but hopefully Stuckey is turning the corner – though, haven’t we heard that many times before.
Stuckey played well against the Nets on Wednesday, and played even better tonight. As far as I know, Stuckey doesn’t have any beef with New Jersey. Too often, his good play has been driven by personal grievances. Unless he develops issues with more opponents, that has left Stuckey listless for too many games.
Tonight, he was engaged on and off the court. When Stuckey jumped off the bench to clap for Walker Russell, I swooned.
I’m not ready to declare some great breakthrough for Stuckey. His double-clutch shot led to points tonight, but too often, it leaves him caught in the air without an option.
And I’m by no means ready to declare Stuckey and Knight the Pistons’ backcourt of the future. But Friday, they looked like they could be just that.
And, like dominoes falling, that made everything else go.
Greg Monroe meticulously excels
Greg Monroe will be fine no matter who plays around him. That he could quietly have 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes showed that. His 18 points and 11 rebounds were both his lowest totals in his last four games.
Night in and night, he brings it, and that won’t change.
Jason Maxiell allows Jonas Jerebko to come off the bench
Jonas Jerebko (20 points on 7-of-13 shooting with four rebounds in 25 minutes) was playing at a different speed than everyone else on the court. Coming off the bench suits him, because it prevents him from getting into early foul trouble. Plus, his energy is more noticeable against starters who are a little tired.
Jerebko had been starting at power forward, because the Pistons don’t have a reliable option at the position. For now, though, Jason Maxiell (2-of-2 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line with five rebounds and four blocks in 20 minutes), is filling in just fine. The Pistons need an athletic shot-blocker to pair defensively with Monroe, and 20 pounds lighter, Maxiell can fill that role until the Pistons upgrade the position.
Ben Gordon thriving off the bench
Ben Gordon (14 points on 6-of-10 shooting) appears to be settling into his backup role. The Pistons are asking him to make shots, and nothing more. When he was starting, he was asked to dribble and pass a lot more, and though he delivered some of the Pistons’ best assists of the season, he turned the ball over way too much.
It’s a small sample, so don’t read too much into it, but Gordon is 12-of-17 for 28 points in his two games off the bench.
Ben Wallace attempts first free throws
Ben Wallace attempted two free throws Friday. Of course, he missed both. But entering the game, nobody had played more than Wallace’s 371 minutes without attempting a free throw.
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