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Pistons compete on defense, labor on offense in loss to Chicago

Coming up with a good defensive effort against the Bulls when Derrick Rose is out of the lineup is certainly a less daunting task than when they are at full strength, but the Pistons still produced one of their better defensive efforts of the season in tonight’s 83-71 loss to still pretty good Chicago team.

The Pistons lost because they couldn’t contend with Chicago’s strength — Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Carlos Boozer were monsters on the offensive glass, combining to grab 17. Nine of those 17 came in the fourth quarter, producing 10 second chance points in the quarter and helping push the Bulls’ four-point lead into double digits.

The game, unlike some recent matchups in Detroit’s 14 straight losses to Chicago, stayed competitive most of the way because the Pistons used their length and speed to counter Chicago’s strength advantage. Detroit forced Chicago into 19 turnovers by constantly getting their hands in passing lanes. Now, they were partially helped by the sloppy ball-handling of Chicago’s guards, but Brandon Knight had one of his most active defensive games, a positive sign from a player who is quick and long-armed enough to eventually become a really good defensive point guard. Knight had a steal and two blocked shots and helped hold Chicago point guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas to 4-for-18 shooting.

The team’s other starting guard, Austin Daye, also had two blocked shots and had three steals. In fact, Knight and Daye were the only two Pistons to block a shot in the game. Daye had his second straight positive defensive performance. He struggled shooting the ball (5-for-14), but I’m not convinced it was his poor shooting that was keeping him out of the lineup anyway. Lawrence Frank has shown a willingness to roll with players who are struggling offensively as long as the defensive effort is there, and defense has always been the lacking or even non-existent part of Daye’s game. He faced tough defenders tonight in Ronnie Brewer and Luol Deng, so I’m not too worried about the poor shooting. In fact, I’m encouraged that the poor shooting didn’t torpedo his confidence at the other end of the court as it often does. He remained competitive and energetic even when his shot wasn’t falling. That’s a huge mental hurdle he has yet to overcome as a NBA player and tonight was a positive sign that he has the ability to contribute more than just occasional spot-up shooting.

The defensive performance was far from flawless — Jason Maxiell gave up some way too easy baskets to Carlos Boozer early and, although they played hard on defense, Greg Monroe and Jonas Jerebko were just out-muscled on the boards all night. Still, there was much more positive to take away from the defensive effort tonight than negative, and it has been a rarity to be able to write that this season.

Starting, not closing, quarters was a problem

Bad teams frequently do a poor job of closing out quarters strong, and the Pistons have been no exception this season. Tonight though, the Pistons were down eight with less than three minutes to go in the third and cut it to four by the end of the third.

Unfortunately, they didn’t carry that momentum into the fourth. Kyle Korver hit a three, then Taj Gibson hit a jumper and was fouled to push the lead to 10 in the opening minute of the fourth. That was a theme all game for the Pistons — they worked very hard to get the game close, then Chicago would answer with a series of easy baskets to push the lead back up.

Monroe’s tough 14 points

Greg Monroe has been passive over the last few games when it comes to establishing good position and creating the types of shots he was regularly getting earlier in the season. Tonight, he wasn’t getting great position and he was taking shots a bit out of his comfort zone, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Monroe fought for every inch he could get against Noah and Omer Asik. Usually though, they succeeded in making him catch it a little further from the basket than he wanted the ball. Unlike a previous meeting this season when Monroe successfully beat Noah off the dribble several times, Chicago was giving plenty of help, making it difficult for him to put it on the floor. Monroe scored 14 on 7-for-13 shooting, but none of those baskets came easily. Four of his points were a result of tip-ins where he absorbed a lot of contact and was sent crashing to the floor. Four more came on heavily contested jumpers.

Monroe was involved in the offense — he also had five assists — but more importantly, he had zero turnovers despite facing constant pressure from Chicago. He’s had more dominant performances this season, but I don’t think he’s performed better against a tough, physical defense that came after him than he did tonight.

About that bench …

Chicago’s defense was physical and intense. Other than Monroe, Maxiell and Ben Wallace (who only took four and two shots respectively), no one on the Pistons shot well. But the starters at least were competitive against the Chicago defense. The reserves? Not so much. Will Bynum, Damien Wilkins and Jonas Jerebko combined to go 2-for-19. Bynum, in particular, played really poorly (0-for-8 shooting, 0 assists, 0 steals and a turnover). Wilkins and Jerebko were at least able to make some hustle plays. Jerebko came up with five offensive rebounds and Wilkins had a nice, clean contest on a Watson breakaway layup, forcing a miss, in the fourth quarter, although Wilkins did pay the price by taking a hard elbow to the face. But with a depleted lineup, the Pistons desperately needed some scoring out of at least one of those guys (and Bynum should’ve been the most likely candidate). It just never materialized.

Knight’s offense

Couple of things about Knight’s stat line that his detractors will surely jump on: he only had one assist and he didn’t shoot well overall. I’m going to give him a pass on both counts.

First, they needed him to be aggressive as a scorer tonight with both Stuckey and Gordon out. On top of that, with Bynum struggling, Knight was their only player capable of consistently beating his man off the dribble and creating shots for himself or drawing the attention of the defense. He did those things pretty well most of the game. Until he forced three bad shots late in the game with the Pistons trying to get back in it, he was a respectable 7-for-15. As for his assists, he found open teammates several times for open jumpers, resulting in misses. Jerebko, Prince and Daye all missed wide open threes in the second half that should’ve been assists for Knight. Knight’s offense wasn’t terrible and his defense was pretty good. His effort was a big reason the game stayed as close as it did.

No Hamilton

Despite getting medical clearance to play, Tom Thibodeau held Rip Hamilton out of the lineup as a healthy scratch. On Twitter as the game was about to start, I was reading tweets from Chicago fans who were worried that Hamilton might be rushing back from his latest injury simply to face his former team. He’s already done that once this season, and he re-aggravated his injury in that game.

Hamilton being stubborn/prideful even to the possible detriment of his own health? I’m shocked to hear such a thing. Never change, Rip.


  • Mar 31, 201212:56 am
    by Daye and Knight


    When I looked at Daye’s stats at first, I was disappointed until I noticed he had 2 blocked shots and 3 steals. If he can perform on defense maybe his game offensively will catch up.

    On a side note, I picked Daye up in my fantasy league as a spot start until Stuckey comes back…playoffs started for my league on Monday and I know I can get out of the first round with the team I have anyways


    And on 1 more side note, I’m starting the let’s draft LeBryan Nash in the second round movement…that is if he declares and we got a big man in the 1st round

    • Mar 31, 20121:11 am
      by Daye and Knight


      Wait..let me correct myself: he blocked two shots lol

  • Mar 31, 20121:31 am
    by DVS


    I was pretty happy with daye tonight. He looked committed on D and hustled trying to stick with the much smaller and faster guards he was up against. The effort was there. I just think frank needs to utilize what Daye brings. Daye will never really stick with fast guards coming off screens, so the team should compensate for that by switching someone like Wilkins on the faster perimeter player and have Daye on the taller guy for example.
    I’m just happy he didn’t look completely lost on defense which is his usual thing.
    Another note from the game was i hate Will Bynums game. He never looked to pass and constantly forced shots. It’s possibly the most frustrating thing about the pistons now. (which says a lot)
    He needs to be moved ASAP IMO. Walker should be getting more minutes with Stuckey out. At least he knows his role and looks to help his team.

  • Mar 31, 20122:19 am
    by Mark


    Bynum should be played 48 mpg the rest of the season. Even being up 11 games on CHA, I think we’d still finish with the worst record if we gave Bynum 48 mpg.

  • Mar 31, 20128:56 am
    by andyf


    I didn’t get to see the game, but i checked the box scores a couple times. What was with the free throw disparity?   Pistons fault?   At halftime they had shot zero, and somewhere near the end they had only shot 5 or 6.   Damn,

    • Mar 31, 201210:38 am
      by gordbrown


      Not suprisingly, it was shoddy officiating. There was a play on an inbounds pass in which the Chicago player (can’t remember who it was, wrapped Bynum up with both arms. Bynum made a show of trying to get free and they stood there for some seconds (even after the ball was inbounded) with no call. Again, why wins are more important than lottery balls. Wins equals whistles.

  • Mar 31, 201211:20 am
    by frankie d


    monroe looks tired.
    i think that is the reason for his poor play, recently.  if you watch his legs, they often go wobbly on him, a sure sign that he’s trying to battle through fatigue.
    he needs to work on his conditioning, which was a valid concern about him coming out of college.

  • Mar 31, 201211:24 am
    by frankie d


    blame joe d for the horrible bench.
    while players like jj hickson get picked up on waivers, and joe d ignores them, he’s giving guaranteed contracts to scrubs like wilkins, one of the worst rotation players in the league.

    • Mar 31, 201212:08 pm
      by rick77


      Damn man do you have Joe D’s office bugged man? How the hell do you know whether or not he tried to get Hickson or not? What if dudes agent demanded he get starter minutes. How do you explain that one to the team? You are irrational sometimes my man. For every good thing you say, you muck it up with one of these ill timed inflammatory comments that add nothing to the conversation. You remind me of me when I was young a few years back and I thought that if I said something all the time that people would actually care or even respond to me. This is just stupid to assume that and you only saying it because Hickson went off on the Clippers last night. Yeah the last tiem checked they were a great defensive team. A one game outlier. Im suprised because even you can do better than that. Since you say Wilkins is the worse then show me how he stacks up with everyone else.Obviously he aint a srub or he wouldnt be kicking Dayes ass in practice. I know he aint Dominique or even Gerald but the man is serviceable and does what coach says and leads by example. We know their are better players out there but you aint playing unless you bring it in practice and can carry some weight. Im tired a of guys coming on here clamoring about who should do what and how,  when on one  end the same dudes want the team to lose so how better do you lose than with said sorry players? I mean do u assume that if we play all young they will lose? Hell they may go on a streak and take the team outta the lottery then what? Nothing cause people we be bitching about why didnt we just tank and the recipe for tanking is there but noone sees it. Stop crying because if we did get Hickson whose to say he would have reupped ? Who rents a player for 20 games that isnt going to the playoffs? BTW bet Wilkins can bust yo A$$! I guess that would then make you the worst rotational player in the league.

      • Mar 31, 201212:58 pm
        by frankie d


        as usual, you don’t know what you are talking about.  and the more you write, the more you reveal your ignorance.
        do you even know how portland got hickson?
        you obviously don’t, based on your comments.  

        • Mar 31, 20121:12 pm
          by Dan Feldman


          “do you even know how portland got hickson?”

          They claimed him off waivers, using their cap space to absorb his contract — cap space the Pistons don’t have. In fact, even if the Pistons hadn’t signed Tayshaun Prince and Damien Wilkins, they still wouldn’t have had the cap space.

          “you obviously don’t, based on your comments.  

          • Mar 31, 20121:21 pm
            by rick77

            Thanks Dan I appreciate a well informed response not someone sniping because they know they are wrong and dont know what the hell they are talking about. Dude needs to get a clue. BOOM! Reference to last week lol. Why do I have to be ignorant simply cause I dont agree with you? Ignorant is calling someone out because you dont have anything intelligent to say in response accept your typical defense mechanism which is to call someone names.  On that note, you sir have a good day. Dont want you to get all mad and have you get your panties caught up in a bunge on account of a disagreement.

          • Mar 31, 20121:44 pm
            by frankie d

            er….my comments were not directed to you, mr. feldman. 
            obviously, they were not.
            specifically they were not.
            now obviously, you are welcome to comment on anything that is posted here, but i was obviously not speaking to you. of course, i knew how portland had acquired hickson and i understand the nba waiver rules.  and my point was simply that rick had no idea how portland had been able to acquire hickson, as is obvious by his comments.
            “Why do I have to be ignorant simply cause I dont agree with you? ”
            not agreeing with me has nothing to do with being ignorant in this matter.
            ignorance is believing an agent had any say so in how nba teams could or could not claim hickson off waivers. in fact, in an interview, hickson admitted that he was actually, physically with the GS team and was going to sign with them, as he’d assumed that he was going to clear waivers.  he didn’t.   portland claimed him.  he had no choice about where he went.
            and the point i’ve made, too often to have to repeat, is that joe d has tied up cap space on contracts for fairly useless players, or unnecessary players, and given scrubs guaratnteed contracts and has therefore made it impossible to make the kind of deal that portland just made to acquire hickson.
            smart teams often keep a bit of cap space available for exactly this type of deal.
            how many times do i have to make the same, simple point?

          • Mar 31, 20122:15 pm
            by Dan Feldman

            “while players like jj hickson get picked up on waivers, and joe d ignores them, he’s giving guaranteed contracts to scrubs like wilkins, one of the worst rotation players in the league.”

            Dumars ignored Hickson because the salary-cap rules prevent him from claiming him.

            “jj hickson just had another very good game last night.  he looked like he looked in cleveland…active, aggressive, a real force down low.  why joe d passed on a chance to give him a shot in detroit is a mystery.”

            When did Dumars have a chance to give Hickson a shot in Detroit?

            “which player would you rather have: damien wilkins ore jj hickson?” 

            Straw man. When was this ever an option?

            You go full steam ahead into every argument you make here. Sometimes, you’re right, and when you are, it’s fine. But when you’re wrong, it’s as annoying as can be. You can admit that you don’t know everything. It’s OK. Nobody would hate you for that.

          • Mar 31, 20122:22 pm
            by Dan Feldman

            A couple more things:

            “ignorance is believing an agent had any say so in how nba teams could or could not claim hickson off waivers.”

            You’re ignorant if you don’t think agents have a say in this matter. Under the technical definition of the rules, no, they don’t. But these are people dealing with people. GMs and agents have to work together time and time again, and if Hickson’s agent told a team his client would be unhappy if claimed by a certain team, that would definitely factor into the GM’s decision. Maybe the GM would claim the player any way, but the agent’s request would be factored into the decision.

            “smart teams often keep a bit of cap space available for exactly this type of deal. ”

            The teams with enough cap space available at the beginning of the season to acquire Hickson:

            Raptors, Cavaliers, Kings, Pacers.

            When I think of the league’s smartest teams, those four always come to mind first.

          • Mar 31, 20124:01 pm
            by frankie d

            you keep proving my point for me…
            “Under the technical definition of the rules, no, they don’t.”
            thanks.  exactly my point.  and obviously, portland didn’t give a hoot that hickson was literally in new orleans getting ready to play for GS when portland claimed him off waivers.  hickson was definitely not very happy – in the interview – but he had no choice, and obviously his agent had no choice.  exactly my point.  whether any team would provide minutes – as rick argued was relevant – was in fact totally irrelevant.  exactly my point.
            regarding keeping space open, that is so obvious it hardly merits a response, no matter your snarky comment.
            ask memphis if they are happy they had cap space so they could pick up spaights.
            ask portland if they were happy to pick up hickson for nothing.
            ask okc if they were happy to pick up maynor for nothing.
            and, i guess those are just dumb move by dumb organizations.
            picking up good, cheap young players for a pittance is always a dumb thing to do.
            smart guys like joe d pay 12 million to a bench shooter like gordon.
            smart guys like joe d pay 7 million to guys like CV, who sit on the bench all year.
            smart guys like joe d trade point guards who go on to continue playing in all star games for washed up superstars who are out of the league in a couple of years.
            smart guys like joe d load up their “rebuilding” roster with over 30 scrubs like damien wilkins, and give those guys guaranteed contracts.
            smart guys like joe d pay guys like rip hamilton 10 million dollars to go away and play for a conference rival, while their money stays on his salary cap.
            yea, smart guys like joe d make brilliant moves like that and end up in the nba finals…
            wait, that didn’t happen?!?

  • Mar 31, 20122:39 pm
    by frankie d


    “….like jj hickson get picked up on waivers, and joe d ignores them, he’s giving guaranteed contracts to scrubs like wilkins, one of the worst rotation players in the league.”
    players like hickson… 
    i’ve repeatedly made the point that joe d should structure and use his salary cap space in order to pick up players like hickson.
    or spaights.
    or mullens.
    or maynor.
    or any of the other younger players who get moved to teams who do take care to keep space open, or create space, for exactly that type of transaction.
    in this particular case, because of the waiver rules, he could not have picked up hickson, on waivers.  true.
    but the larger point stands: instead of accumulating bums like russell and wilkins and giving them guaranteed money, instead of signing extraneous vets like tay, instead of refusing to trade vets like tay and/or maxiell in order to free up cap space – as portland was recently able to dump almost 20 million in salary and get the trade exception they used to pick up hickson – joe d should have a salary cap structure in place so that he can pick up young assets, cheap.  he should be actively moving in that direction. his current roster and salary structure severely handicaps him, over and over again.
    it’s been a problem for years and it is obviously still a problem.
    btw, good to see that you are kind enough to take up for the feeble-minded who are incapable of discussing the matters they bring up.

    • Mar 31, 20123:00 pm
      by rick77


      Whatever man get a clue. I give you credit when its due and this time you were wrong. You go on spewing vindictives in order to make yourself sound big ,when in fact it makes you look small minded. No one is helping me in reference to your comment, and dont you think it would have helped your cause if you had explained yourself instead of whining like a ……… Whatever you say Frankie dont get all butthurt cause someone is calling you out. Im here or intelligent discussion not a pissing contest. Again sir, er little man have a nice day!

    • Mar 31, 20124:18 pm
      by frankie d


      “On Wednesday, J.J. Hickson was at New Orleans Arena before the Golden State Warriors played the Hornets. He had been waived Monday by the Sacramento Kings, and with the 48-hour waiver period about to end, he was prepared to accept the Warriors’ offer to join them for the rest of the season. With about five minutes left until the deadline passed, he made his way out to the court, wearing Warriors gear.“I was walking out to go shoot, get some shots up before the game, and they (previously) said I couldn’t go on the court until the deadline,” Hickson. “So I was going out to go out and get some shots and they told me I couldn’t go on the court because I didn’t clear waivers.””
      yea, i see that portland was real concerned that jj’s agent had lready worked out a deal with GS.  so concerned that they literally puled him off the court.

      • Mar 31, 20126:45 pm
        by andyf


        Do you ever capitalize when NOT cutting and pasting?   I swear, reading your posts about what is smart and what isn’t is laughable when trying to navigate the jumbled mess that is your writing.
        yea, i see that portland was real concerned that jj’s agent had lready worked out a deal with GS.  so concerned that they literally puled him off the court.
        “Yeah, I see that Portland was really concerned that J.J’s agent had already worked out a deal with GD.   They were so concerned that they literally pulled him off the court”
        Now isn’t that better?  All that “smart people” stuff like spelling, grammar and punctuation actually makes your poor argument look,…well less poor at least.

        • Mar 31, 20127:33 pm
          by frankie d


          what did rhett butler say to scarlett o’hara…?
          something like, “frankly, my dear, i don’t give a damn….”
          i really, truly don’t give a damn what you have to say or about how i present my views.
          folks pay me to write stuff, and when someone pays me, i pay lots of attention to things like spelling and punctuation and, yes, capital letters.
          posting comments on a sports blog? are you kidding me?  i do this for fun and amusement.   like i’m supposed to care what folks like you think?
          in fact, though, i do need to get another keyboard/mouse set.
          my wireless set has been acting up lately and  drops lots of characters and i get lazy about going back and making sure everything is hunky dory.  so i do acknowledge that, especially the last few weeks, it’s looked pretty sloppy.
          but as i remark to anyone who complains…when i see certain commenters, i immediately scroll past.  not gonna bother.  other guys, i read because i think they have interesting stuff to say or i’m amused by them.   i’m always amazed when someone like you actually cares enough about what i might write to complain about it. 
          and what is deliciously amusing is that i’ve never described myself as “smart”.  i do describe coaches and organizations as smart, but never attach that label to myself or anything i may write.  can’t help what  anyone else may try to attribute to me.

          • Apr 1, 20127:55 am
            by andyf

            When I don’t give a damn, I just say “I don’t give a damn.”

          • Apr 1, 20124:35 pm
            by frankie d

            your comments and actions are clearly  consistent with authoritarian personalities.
            first, you demand that i write comments in a fashion acceptable to  you.
            then, you actually rewrite my comment.
            then you make a statement that, by implication, criticizes my response to you, indicating that i should respond in a fashion consistent with your wants.
            this need to control the actions of others, to demand that they conform to your idea of the norm, is a clear indication of the authoritarian personality.
            sorry,  but i’ll respond in my own way, thank you very much.

  • Mar 31, 20123:48 pm
    by frankie d


    “You go on spewing vindictives in order to make yourself sound big….”
    freaking insane.
    let’s review what happened this morning.
    i post a comment on a particular matter. it is not directed to you or anyone.
    rick replies directly to me, with a rant that includes the following: 
    ” You are irrational … ill timed inflammatory comments that add nothing to the conversation. You remind me of me when I was young a few years back and I thought that if I said something all the time that people would actually care or even respond to me. This is just stupids… BTW bet Wilkins can bust yo A$$! I guess that would then make you the worst rotational player in the league.”
    and i am spewing invectives?
    talk about crazy…

    • Mar 31, 20124:21 pm
      by rick77


      Did I disrespect you though? This is the second time in a week that you dsirespected me. I respect you as a man and would appreciate you doing the same. Just cause I dont agree with you does not mean I think you are stupid. You had two rants back to back as if you were waiting for someone to take the bait. I did but never did I disrespect you as a man. All you had to do is give a reason why just like I did, but instead you chose the elementary way to handle things, name calling and such.  “This is just stupids… BTW bet Wilkins can bust yo A$$! I guess that would then make you the worst rotational player in the league.” Where did I call you ignorant in that statement? I just responded to what I thought was irrational not trying to belittle you. I made the Wilkins comment in jest as if to suggest you could be a better player. No offense should have been taken because it wasnt that type of comment. You take shit to whole differerent level for no reason than to disparage someone when all you have to do is respond with the facts. I can live with the facts, but can do away with the shit talking.

  • Mar 31, 20124:47 pm
    by frankie d


    “You had two rants back to back as if you were waiting for someone to take the bait. I did …”
    unhhh…it’s a little crazy to believe that i was directing two very general, disconnected comments to you, with the expectation that you would go off on some type of rant at me that included calling me “irrational”  and “stupid”, among other things.  
    but…according to you, that is not “disrespect”.
    talk about crazy….

  • Mar 31, 20128:09 pm
    by rick77


    I never said you were stupid but that it was stupid to say Joe D made our bench sorry by giving Wilkins a spot over Hickson. When was that ever a option? That was really the point I was trying to make. I never assume and neither should you. To think I thought the comments were directed to me would be silly on my behalf. Its just that every now and then you continue to beat on the same drum and it gets played out. I agree with you Joe has made some mad moves mixed in with some good ones, but at the end of the day it is what it is and with nothing to do til the offseason why continue rehashing the same bit?

  • Mar 31, 20128:10 pm
    by rick77


    bad moves

  • Mar 31, 20128:28 pm
    by frankie d


    “… it was stupid to say Joe D made our bench sorry by giving Wilkins a spot over Hickson. ”
    i never said anything of the sort.
    i’ve said i’d rather have hickson over wilkins, just as i’ve repeatedly said that i’d rather have younger players on the roster, rather than wilkins.  but joe d gave him a guaranteed contract so he ain’t going anywhere.
    the bench is sorry because he’s decided, for whatever reason, to sign and keep guys like wilkins instead of either going out and getting hungry young players or keeping his salary cap situation tight enough so that he had more flexibility.
    imho, i’t ridiculous to have so much of the roster devoted to dead weight…
    that is why the team has such a bad bench.
    i certainly don’t blame that on frank, though i think he could do stuff like play zone at certain times, to get some use out of guys like CV.

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