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Pistons reinforce perception – mostly positive – in loss to Jazz

The Pistons 105-90 loss to the Jazz tonight didn’t say much about Detroit we didn’t already know – or at least suspect – but games likes this are always useful for establishing and affirming opinions.

Significant team-wide progress, but not season-altering progress

The Pistons can compete game in, game out. They’re legitimately a better team than earlier in the season, when they frequently lost by 15-plus.

For much of the game, the Pistons looked about even with the Jazz – who have an outside shot of the playoffs in the Western Conference – and honestly, I’m not sure which team is better right now.

But the game was in Utah, where the Pistons hadn’t won since John Stockton was still playing. Really, the game’s location didn’t, as long as it was outside The Palace, where the Pistons did a bulk of the work in getting their record out of the cellar. Tonight, Detroit became unsettled late as the Jazz got sharper and ended the game on a 16-2 run.

The Pistons, like most bad teams, aren’t good on the road.

Yes, the Pistons have improved significantly during the season. Yes, they’re still bad. But’s better than being horrible.

And they’re still headed for the lottery.

Rodney Stuckey has probably turned a corner

Rodney Stuckey (29 points, seven assists, four rebounds, two steals and one turnovers) was the best Piston on the floor. That won’t happen every night, but it’s no longer that noteworthy.

He’s attacking with more force and balance, and that’s a big reason he’s getting to the line so often (9-of-11 tonight). He’s even making difficult interior shots when his drives don’t draw fouls.

I still want to see a larger sample before declaring Stuckey has finally taken that elusive “next step.” It’s still Rodney Stuckey, after all. But, at this point, I’ll be surprised if he hasn’t.

The Pistons need a defensive big man

Stuckey wasn’t the best player on the floor because Al Jefferson (33 points on 14-of-18 shooting and 12 rebounds) dominated the Pistons. Greg Monroe was overmatched, and I actually thought Monroe made a decent effort to defend Jefferson. Ben Wallace had his turn on Jefferson, too, and was probably a little more effective.

But the real answer for players like Jefferson isn’t on the roster today. Hopefully, he comes in the upcoming draft.

Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight are growing together

Greg Monroe (14 points, five rebounds and five assists) had one of his better passing games. We all know he’s a good passer, and it’s just a matter of learning how to use all the offensive weapons he’s unleashed this year.

It was especially encouraging that three of Monroe’s assists went to Brandon Knight for two 3-pointers and layup. By all accounts, the Pistons are building around those two, and ‘it’s great to see them develop an on-court chemistry.

Ben Gordon can fill a role

Ben Gordon scored 12 points on 10 shots. In the first half, he was aggressive in looking for his shot and was better for it. Gordon can still get going, and even if his peak isn’t what it once was and even if his on nights come less frequently, he can still be a good scorer off the bench.

He also had a nice assists to an open Jonas Jerebko (more on that shot in the next section) when the Jazz defense collapsed on him. Gordon is actually a good passer as far as finding open guys and the getting ball through tight spaces, but he also makes too many careless and risky passes.

Essentially, Gordon should think score first, score second and pass third. When the defense has limited his first two scoring looks, someone will probably be open, and Gordon can make that pass.

Jonas Jerebko needs better court awareness

Jonas Jerebko probably leads the league in shots taken with a foot on the 3-point arc. If he doesn’t, it’s only because he doesn’t shoot a ton. But he must lead the league in percentage of shots taken with a foot on the 3-point arc.

He had another tonight, on the assist from Ben Gordon. Lawrence Frank needs to work with Jerebko on fixing this.

Jazz trick Pistons

The Jazz had the ball late in the first half with the shot clock off. I’m not sure who it was, but someone yelled, “High pick and roll coming your way!” It was probably a Pistons assistant coach – I don’t think it sounded like Lawrence Frank – but it could have been a Jazz coach playing mind games or an astute fan.

Anyway, whoever yelled it certainly looked to be correct. Devin Harris dribbled between halfcourt and the top of the 3-point arc, inching closer like he was waiting for a screen that Paul Millsap was heading out from the paint to set. Jason Maxiell followed Millsap out, fully prepared to defend the pick and roll.

Then, suddenly, Millsap turned back to the basket – Maxiell stuck with all his momentum carrying him toward center court – and elevated to catch an alley-oop from Harris.

Maxiell got fooled, but that happens. More than anything, Utah’s play impressed me.

32 Comments

  • Mar 12, 201211:56 pm
    by Reaction

    Reply

    I really hope the Pistons try to acquire another first round pick in this draft.. it would be nice to see them draft another big man and a good small forward.

  • Mar 13, 201212:19 am
    by Daye and Knight

    Reply

    I first want to open up by saying I’m glad I’m one of a very few on here to have Stuckey’s back this whole season but don’t worry, the bandwagon has room for plenty…hop on! (lol)

    Second, it doesn’t matter who’s on the Jazz, we just can’t win against them, even in or glory days we couldn’t figure out how to win against these guys. It’s frustrating but I’m starting to gradually accept we can’t win against them…put the bobcats in Utah and we would still find a way to lose.

    We have a game coming up against a winnable team Wednesday so hopefully they don’t take this and turn it into the start of a new losing streak. We’re growing as a team and as noted above it’s great to see Knight/Monroe build chemistry. This offseason will help us plenty and if Stuckey stays to his word and works with Knight over the summer then our guards will have even more chemistry.

    Throw in a stacked draft and free agency (insert Lopez/McGee/Kamen here) things can only go up from here, highly doubt we’ll make playoffs this season but in the next year or two it’s a possibility.

    • Mar 13, 20125:19 am
      by Stuckey and whoever

      Reply

      There needs to be a Stuckey jersey night soon!  LOL  Seriously though..get yours!

    • Mar 13, 20129:50 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “I first want to open up by saying I’m glad I’m one of a very few on here to have Stuckey’s back this whole season”

      He’ll probably invite you to hang out soon.

      But seriously … his first 18 games were really bad. His last 19 have been really good. That has added up to a season where he’s right about at the numbers he produced last year.

      Everyone certainly hopes he’s turned a corner, but he’s had just about as many sub-par games as good ones this season. If he keeps the pace of his last 19 up the rest of this season, then the Pistons might have something there. He certainly looks like he will, but I’m sure you know there have been other times he’s looked good for stretches and then fallen off.

      • Mar 13, 201210:42 am
        by Normal 2

        Reply

        Don’t forget, Stucky was injured about 10 of those 18 games he played really bad.  He didn’t play in any preseason games and when he finally did come back, he got hurt.  That should be noted in any evaluation of Stucky this year.  I don’t know if he turned a corner yet either but you can’t leave the injury out when evaluation Stucky for this season.  When his Injury subsided, he started going off.  But i agree, I need to see it for a whole season too before i start making conclusions But i like Stuck’s games

  • Mar 13, 201212:44 am
    by Mark

    Reply

    McGee is that defensive big man we need and would fit perfect.

    If we can get a late 1st rounder for Max from some contender, might be enough ammo to send to WAS for McGee.

    Word is they’ll trade anything to whoever takes Blatche. I’d take that deal, worry about dumping Blatche  llater, and end up with our frontcourt set for the next decade with Monroe-McGee. Even has a ring to it, sounds like a law firm or somthing .lol

    • Mar 13, 201212:48 am
      by Mark

      Reply

      Monroe by himself vs Jefferson, Milsap, Favors, and Kanter not going to win too many matchups. He needs help, and I don’t see us getting anything special where we’ll be picking in the draft now.

      T-Rob looks like a great scorer, but he’s undersized, and we need a defensive anchor. Davis/Drummond both will be gone by the time we pick. McGee is already a proven elite shot-blocker and just entering his prime. He is EXACTLY who Joe D should be targeting. And if we can get him w/o giving up our #1 pick and still draft a SF like MKG or Barnes, we’d have a serious team of the future to reckon with .

    • Mar 13, 20129:53 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      For a big man who blocks shots, McGee is a really poor defender.

      There’s certainly a case to be made to take a chance on his potential, but he’s been in the league four years now and still doesn’t really get it. Plus, pretty sure that having his mom around would drive the coaching staff crazy. I think he’s worth a look, but I’m kind of terrified of anyone who has had to do with the Wizards the last few years except for Wall, Booker, Singleton and maybe Seraphin.

      • Mar 13, 201210:50 am
        by rick77

        Reply

        You say that Patrick but cant the same case be made for Detroit and the last four years? It is not like he was surrounded by a cast of head strong veterans. I mean Gilbert Arenas was waving guns in the locker room this kids first year in the league. Then it is not like the Wizards are a class organization that cares about winning either. I say he would help them a whole lot more than the numbers say. He wont be asked to do too much but play defense and grab rebounds. Different owner, different team, different city, different agenda. I try not to look at the numbers but more so the team and how they are built. Detroit with that move could still be a run and gun half court team that plays hard nosed defense. This move gives Detroit an indentity.

        • Mar 13, 201210:59 am
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          But the thing is, he’s not asked to do all that much now in Washington. He blocks shots, but he’s a bad, undisciplined defensive player.

          Also, my issue is “this move” won’t happen. It just won’t. Washington is not giving him away, even if they don’t think they can re-sign him. He’s young, has upside and his contract right now is cheap. If they trade him, they could get much more than whatever scraps Detroit would offer.

  • Mar 13, 201212:47 am
    by tim

    Reply

    ben gordon cant even dribble the ball effectively without getting it stripped or knocking it off his own leg.  SMFH at you suggesting 12 pts on 10 shots is a worthwhile contribution.  Dude is a complete waste of money and minutes IMO.  Better off running out Bynum, Walker or even Daye.  Except hes the $11 million man.  This guy is washed up and a terrible player at this point of his career.  Anyone catch the play where he fell on his ass and Knight? had to jump his guy?

  • Mar 13, 201212:50 am
    by Mel

    Reply

    Dito to Daye and Knight, How long does people have to wait before accepting Stuckey is becoming a man.
    Stuckey was the only player forcing the issue and making it work. We lost because of rebounding and missed free throws and Knight has to get better with the turnovers.
    Jonas and Gordon really frustrates me when they play at times they turn the ball over too much ( as well as Monroe and Knight but i give them a pass)and Gordon does’nt seem like he’s even engaged at times when he’s playing.
     
    But enough of not giving Stuck his props. Last 10 games he’s averaging almost 20pt with 475 fg%
    He’s in the mix with alot of top players in his position. And this is his first season with Frank. He’s also playing like he really want to win for the team now.

    • Mar 13, 20129:56 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      “Dito to Daye and Knight, How long does people have to wait before accepting Stuckey is becoming a man.”

      Hahahaha … he’s like 26-years-old! He’s been a man for a while now.

      “But enough of not giving Stuck his props. Last 10 games he’s averaging almost 20pt with 475 fg%”

      Yeah, and he shot like 37 percent through his first 18 games. No one has ever denied the dude has crazy ability. Consistency has never been his thing. I think every Piston fan is thrilled to see him playing this well, but again, the challenge for him is doing it over the course of an entire season. Hopefully he keeps this up.

      • Mar 13, 201210:55 am
        by rick77

        Reply

        Stuckey is 25 will be 26 next month.Born in April of 1986.

        • Mar 13, 201211:00 am
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          OK, so he’ll be 26 in a few weeks. Whatever. The point is, he’s not a kid, he’s not “becoming a man,” he was an adult man a long time ago.

      • Mar 13, 20122:10 pm
        by Max

        Reply

        I think Mel might have meant that Stuckey is becoming “the man” rather than saying he’s been dealing with growing pains or anything.

  • Mar 13, 20122:51 am
    by Nick II

    Reply

    I agree with Mark. Monroe really needs some frontcourt help and I believe Javale Mcgee is our best option. He can also be had without giving up the 1st rd pick.On Espn Trade Machine we can trade Austin Daye straight up for Mcgee.If they want us to take Blanche contract then they would have to take Charlie V contract from Detroit LOL.Unless we get lucky right now the Pistons are to good a team to get a top 3 pick and the only big I would take in this draft is Drummond.So I think Joe should go hard at Mcgee since Washington is so willing to get rid of him.I think all Mcgee needs is a good coach and a change in scenery.Just think of all the crap he been through in Washington with the Gilbert Arenas gun situation.You think Detroit locker room was bad last yr.We can only imagine what the Wizards lockeroom is like LOL.

    • Mar 13, 20129:58 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Washington isn’t so willing to get rid of him. They’re willing to get rid of him if a team takes their worst contract back with him. McGee has issues, but he also has a ton of upside and he’s still on his rookie deal, so they’re under no pressure to move him for the sake of moving him.

      • Mar 13, 201212:40 pm
        by Tim

        Reply

        I agree with Patrick on this one.  McGee is a spectacular shot blocker and a subpar defender.  Dude is constantly out of position and mentally lazy on defense.  Now, his incredible gifts cover some of that, but there is a reason only sacto allows more PPG than the wiz.  their opp fg% is also near the top in the league.  Sure, defense is a team effort, but it starts and ends with the anchor.  and mcgee is a subpar anchor, despite his incredible blocking ability and highlight reel material.  Besides, even he said his suit game is better than his game game.  Damn.

  • Mar 13, 20125:42 am
    by Stuckey and whoever

    Reply

    I do not like losing to the Jazz.  Does not even sound right but they for sure have some front court players.  And I know are defense is not Miami Heat like but when anybody shoots over 54% for the game, look out.  No excuses there.  And I feel a 3 on 3 trade talk coming soon about Stuckey if it already has not came yet.  His value is rising as the days go by, the guy is bringing the meaning to all around game.  I don’t know if Piston Fans are ready for his numbers..but most will say we have have been waiting for this sense he was a rookie.  I’m not mad at you..maybe question you, but not mad.

  • Mar 13, 20129:20 am
    by oats

    Reply

    I live in VA which has allowed me to see a lot of McGee, and I’m really not sold on him. He makes more dumb basketball plays than anyone I’ve ever seen. It’s kind of impressive really. He also definitely spends too much time looking for highlight plays. In short, he makes a lot of mistakes. He’s a 7 footer that blocks shots and rebounds, but I don’t know if I’d actually classify him as a good defensive player. I’d say he’s definitely not as good as this year’s version of Ben Wallace despite McGee’s 2.5 blocks/game. He is just out of position too frequently. Maybe a defensive minded coach gets him to play a more disciplined game, but I have my doubts.
     
    I do like McGee, and he would help Detroit. That said, the reason Washington might be fielding offers for him is they expect him to get a huge offer in free agency and they aren’t certain it will be worth matching it. The talk is he could get an offer somewhere around 4 years, $50 million. DeAndre Jordan just got more than $10 million/year with worse stats across the board than what McGee is putting up. Admittedly McGee is a little older than Jordan was, but it’s not crazy to think McGee will get offered $12 million/year. I think I’d be surprised if Boston doesn’t make an offer like that for McGee (Allen and KG are coming of the books giving them tons of cap space and pairing McGee with Rondo could be an interesting team). A big offer on McGee seems like a likely scenario for any other team that is trying to get cap space to make a run at Howard/Williams this year. It just seems like a lot of money for a defensive player who happens to have the same defensive rating as Greg Monroe. I don’t think the guy I’ve been watching in Washington is worth that much money, and I’m not certain Detroit could offer that much anyways. Maybe if they acquire him at the deadline they could afford to match that offer under salary cap rules, but I don’t think they can offer it to him even if they amnesty BG.

    • Mar 13, 20122:20 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      Wow…..that link is devastating.   I don’t want McGee.  The guy might be the most clueless player ever.

      • Mar 13, 20122:39 pm
        by rick77

        Reply

        Name we one veteran on their team that can hold these young guys accountable then I will say he is not worth it. The Wizards are garbage and have been for some time now. If they want us to take back Blatche contract and they take Villanueva then do it. We can probably trade Blatche(Dont know his contract situation) and put these guys in a better environment. Those youngsters were not listening to Saunders but with the type of organization we are I am pretty sure they would come in here with their heads on staright with the knowledge that this could be their last stop. It gives us two active bigs and gives Daye and Charlie V new scenery in Washington and provides them with two shooters to help spread the floor for John Wall.Plus Daye is cheaper than Rashard Lewis.Now if we hold guys totally accountable for what they did for their last team then we surely should have lost playing when we had Rasheed Wallace, epecially after all the dumb stuff he did in Portland. If you do not want him thats one thing but to try and diminish the value based on playing on a team w/o any direction is crazy in my opinion. He can play and be a better team player I think in a controlled environment.

        • Mar 13, 20123:14 pm
          by frankie d

          Reply

          agree with rick77.
          washington’s roster is a mess, especially in terms of its chemistry.  
          blatche is actually the elder leader on that team, which is one big reason so many of the other guys are conducting themselves in such a renegade fashion.  and blatche was there when arenas and those guys were acting a fool.
          i’ve changed my mind about trading for blatche.
          i’d do it.
          intitially, my view was no way, no how.
          but if i could get mcgee out of a deal for blatche, i’d gamble on blatche.
          mcgee is my real target.  
          yes, he’s done some extraordinarily dumb stuff over the years.  yes, he’s been very immature at times.
          but he’s relatively young, has a good BB pedigree, and is supremely talented.
          he is one guy i believe would respond well to a good environment and sound coaching.  in fact, there was an interview with his mom where she stated that they had begged washington management to bring in a big man coach for javelle.  that does not sound like a guy who is going to be resistant to being coached.  in fact, it seems like a kid who is looking forward to getting good coaching to improve his game.
          my plan would be simple: keep ben around as a coach/emergency player, have him work with mcgee specifically, sort of like what orlando has done with ewing and howard and la with jabbar and bynum, and my guess is that mcgee would respond very well.  
          and if it worked, you could have one of the top 3 defensive centers in the entire league, and possibly the best.
          that potential is worth the gamble, imho.
          blatche?
          dont really care that much about him.  it would help him, imho, to be the 4th or 5th option, perhaps off the bench for a team like detroit.  one of his problems in washington is that he is the go-to guy, and he is not suited to that intellectually, emotionally or by virtue of his game, which can be streaky because he is basically a jumpshooter.
          but put him here, where he can be a spot up shooter, an off the bench scorer and just another guy in the locker room – and not a “leader” – and it just might  work out.
          if it doesn’t, try to ride out the last years of his contract, or buy him out, or do something.
          and yes, his contract is horrible.  he’s owed 23 million, plus over the next 3 years, after this season. 
          one contrary note about sheed and i wish people would get this straight…
          sheed never had on court problems, other than the techs.  and people actually wanted him to shoot and score more.
          but he was always considered a very smart player and an excellent teammate.  
          his problems were strictly with the league and officials and the media.
          he never did “dumb” stuff that caused problems on the court.  to the contrary, he was considered one of the smartest players around.  unlike a guy like blatche or mcgee.

          • Mar 13, 20124:54 pm
            by oats

            This post is kind of crazy. I get that you and I have very different opinions on what coaching can do for a team, but this is just a bit overboard. Top 3 defensive centers? I see no chance of that ever happening for McGee. He just doesn’t have the kind of feel for the game necessary to get into that conversation. I don’t think there is even a remote chance that he could take to coaching that well. To be coached up you have to be willing to be coached and capable of being coached up. With McGee there is a definite limit to that second criteria. You don’t go from one of the dumbest guys to one of the smartest guys, and that is the kind of change McGee would have to make to get into the top 3. The league features centers like Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah, Marc Gasol, and Andrew Bynum. Again, McGee’s defensive rating is the same as Greg Monroe’s. He’s not even close to a top 20 defender right now. It’s highly unlikely he cracks the top 10. A coach twice as good as Popovich couldn’t turn McGee into the best defensive center in the league, no matter who his big man coach is. That is absolutely not on the table. Not even remotely.

          • Mar 13, 20126:10 pm
            by frankie d

            i attribute most of his problems to poor coaching, or neglectful  coaching.
            detroit fans are well aware of flip saunders benign neglect of young players.  saundes basically ignores young guys and expects them to be ready, regardless.  it appears, both from saunders’ history and his mom’s statements – check out the interview/column – that mcgee recognizes his need for more and better coaching.
            imho, that will go a long way to curing the problems that are absolutely present.
            does he do dumb stuff?  heck yes.
            does he make dumb mistakes on the defensive end?  no doubt.
            but does he have a rare athleticism for a true seven footer, making him, quite possibly, along with deandre jordan and howard, the most athletic big guys in the league?  i would say yes.
            i’d take a shot at him and line up one of the best defenders ever – ben wallace – to personally tutor him in the finer points.
            imho, he’s worth the gamble.
            and, are you seriously going to try to say that the guy with the second most blocks in the league, with the 3 highest rate, per 48 minutes in the league, is not even a top 20 defender?
            that is a ridiculous assertion.

      • Mar 13, 20123:40 pm
        by Daye and Knight

        Reply

        He’s like a lost penguin in Africa…finally get to use a Madagascar joke on here lol thanks for the memories McGee

    • Mar 14, 201212:42 am
      by apa8ren9

      Reply

      @N1ck, thanks for that link.
      I mean I knew McGee had a low basketball IQ but after watching that video.  I had no idea they had entire segments dedicated to his stupidity.  I knew he was dumb, but that was just stupidity on the court to another level.  You cant even get away with that crap at the playground with your boys!  McGee you are off the list my friend, dont even have your agent extend a phone call.

  • Mar 13, 20122:51 pm
    by jay_uno

    Reply

    not sure what you mean with the last few sentences..

    going early instead setting an actual pick is just reading the defense.. and with maxiell waiting to hedge (or whatever the instructions are), that was just a good, solid read..

    i don´t see the jazz tricking the pistons (with a p&r?)

  • Mar 13, 20124:31 pm
    by Jodi Jezz

    Reply

    Gordon peak is still what it used to be…He just is playing a different type of role now…He minutes aren’t what they used to be in Chicago, and he doesn’t have the ball in his hands as much as he did in Chicago…He can still score efficiently from the floor…

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