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Pistons take three-game win streak into five-game road trip


  • Teams: Detroit Pistons at Utah Jazz
  • Date: March 12, 2012
  • Time: 9 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Detroit


  • Pistons: 15-26
  • Jazz: 19-21

Probable starters



  • Devin Harris
  • Raja Bell
  • Josh Howard
  • Paul Millsap
  • Al Jefferson

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons +7

Over/under: 193.5

Score: Jazz win, 100.25-93.25

Read about the Jazz

Salt City Hoops


  • Mar 12, 20129:10 pm
    by frankie d


    jazz just had a controversy. something went on between raja bell and coach corbin. maybe it will be a distraction to the jazz.

  • Mar 12, 20129:30 pm
    by frankie d


    the pistons are not exploiting the fact that jefferson is a horrible defender.  they should be going to him every time down to try to get him in foul trouble and on the bench.
    otherwise he will really hurt you.

    • Mar 13, 201210:03 am
      by tarsier


      Jefferson gets way too much of a bad rap for his defense. He’s certainly not great on that end, but he is serviceable. Much like a McGee: big body, quite athletic, pretty decent shot-blocker, strong rebounder, but not great at the nuances of defense.

  • Mar 12, 201210:50 pm
    by frankie d


    bell has always been a prickly sort.  i guess that is why he ends up getting traded so often.
    would love to have him here in detroit, rather than tay.
    he’s still a pretty good defender.

  • Mar 12, 201211:07 pm
    by frankie d


    why is monroe sitting?

    • Mar 12, 201211:10 pm
      by RationalSportsFan


      I was just coming on here to ask that question.   No idea…you would think that the best way to develop Greg long-term would be to let him play in games like this.
      At least 68 year-old Ben Wallace is getting key developmental minutes.

    • Mar 12, 201211:12 pm
      by RationalSportsFan


      Larry Frank has done this with Greg and Brandon a bunch of times this year.  Stunting their development to either send a message or to try to let a bunch of random veterans win a useless midwinter game.

      • Mar 12, 201211:18 pm
        by RationalSportsFan


        Right on cue, Larry puts Ben “2012 Amnesty Clause” Gordon in over Brandon.  Frank is playing way too much for this useless season, while hurting future seasons in the process.

      • Mar 12, 201211:21 pm
        by Patrick Hayes


        Monroe asked out. He does that quite a bit. Dude gets tired a lot. If you watch him in the second half of most games, you see him motion for a sub quite a bit.

        As for Knight, he’s leading all rookies in minutes I believe. Not sure what you’re complaining about. He’s getting plenty of meaningful minutes.

        • Mar 12, 201211:28 pm
          by RationalSportsFan


          My claim: “Brandon Knight should not be sitting at the end of close games.”
          Your claim: “Brandon Knight leads all rookies in minutes played.”
          These claims are not the least bit contradictory.
          Every crunch-time minute he can be on the court is a plus for his future value/performance.  Larry frequently keeps him on the bench in these moments, either to send a message or because some player who won’t be a long-term contributor (e.g. Ben Gordon) is somewhat hot.  This is NOT the best path to long-term team success.

          • Mar 12, 201211:34 pm
            by Patrick Hayes


            “My claim: “Brandon Knight should not be sitting at the end of close games.””

            My response: he rarely does. He was turning it over too much and not playing good defense tonight.

            “Every crunch-time minute he can be on the court is a plus for his future value/performance.”

            Right. And he’s on the court a lot in crunch time situations.

            “Larry frequently keeps him on the bench in these moments”

            I can count on one hand the number of times Knight hasn’t been on the court late in close games this season. “Frequently” is just not accurate.

            “some player who won’t be a long-term contributor (e.g. Ben Gordon) is somewhat hot. “

            He’s signed for two more years after this one.

          • Mar 12, 201211:42 pm
            by RationalSportsFan

            I don’t think we’re disagreeing as much as you think we are.  You say you can count on one hand the number of times Knight had been benched during crunch time.  May be so.  My guess (without reviewing box score) would be about a half dozen times, so we are not to far off.  Where we seem to disagree is on the importance of those missed minutes.  You think they don’t really matter given how often Brandon HAS played those minutes.  I think they DO matter, since benching him for those times has caused him to miss roughly 30-40 minutes of crunch time development.  Might be marginal development, but any time lost is important.
            As far as Gordon being signed for two more years…that doesn’t mean that he is a long-term contributor (more line a long-term anchor).  Gordon will not be around when our beloved Pistons finally return to respectability.

          • Mar 12, 201211:50 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            “Where we seem to disagree is on the importance of those missed minutes.”

            I don’t think they’re unimportant. But, I think most would agree, the few times Knight has been benched late in those situations have been games he’s either played poorly on defense or turned the ball over a lot. I think it’s just as valuable to send a message to your PG that he’s expected to take care of the ball and he’s expected to defend, or he won’t be gifted those crunch time minutes. I’m totally OK with doing that as long as you aren’t completely burying the guy, and Frank obviously has given Knight a lot of leeway this season and not yanked around his minutes.

            “Gordon will not be around when our beloved Pistons finally return to respectability.”

            Maybe, maybe not. But that’s not Frank’s decision to make. He has to coach the team he has. Gordon is a part of that team, a professional, respected guy in the locker room and Frank has to find a role for him and use him. And when Gordon is shooting well, he should get to play a few more minutes, just like he should get yanked when he’s shooting badly.

            My hope is the Pistons are trying to trade him, but his contract is a burden, his production has slipped and there aren’t many teams that would take on the long-term commitment to his salary. So you can find a way to use him and get some modest production out of him and keep him motivated or you can bury him to develop your young players. For a coach trying to restore and maintain trust in the locker room, it’s important that he’s as fair with Gordon as the players who are considered brighter parts of the future.

          • Mar 12, 201211:58 pm
            by RationalSportsFan

            I get your point on Gordon.  Perhaps my bigger complaint is with Joe D for not amnestying him (or Chuck) this offseason.
            As far as your claim that “it’s just as valuable to send a message to your PG that he’s expected to take care of the ball and he’s expected to defend, or he won’t be gifted those crunch time minutes,” I disagree, though I think that your approach isn’t crazy or unreasonable.  I would prefer that he plays through mistakes and gets the crunch time opportunities (like the Cavs give Irving and the Wiz give Wall).  There are plenty of other opportunities to lecture Knight on ball control.  When watching film, for example, a coach can give emphasis to his TO’s.  Or in practice.  Or anytime Larry can call him into his office.
            So, I agree that the turnover problems and defensive breakdowns should be taken seriously, but I just wouldn’t punish him with limited minutes.  I think that hurts the team long-term.

        • Mar 12, 201211:32 pm
          by frankie d


          getting a blow is one thing…
          9 minute stretches?

        • Mar 12, 201211:34 pm
          by RationalSportsFan


          As for Monroe asking out, he was taken out at his standard time (less than a minute left in the 3rd), and for some reason came back 3-6 minutes after his standard return time (I am neither sure what you mean about asking out, nor how that influenced his minutes).

  • Mar 12, 201211:31 pm
    by frankie d


    well…i wish someone would explain this mystery…
    jefferson has two fouls in the first quarter.
    but frank keeps ben wallace in the game for almost 9 minutes from the end of the first quarter to about 4 minutes to go till half time.
    in the meantime, jefferson says, thank you very much because i don’t have to guard anyone when ben is in the game, and i can rest on defense, stay out of foul trouble and kill you on offense. 
    same thing happened in the second half.  monroe sat for a long time, jefferrson rode out his foul trouble and he killed the pistons.
    like i said right when the game started…
    they should have concentrated on getting the ball to monroe, cause jefferson is a horrible defender, made sure that monroe was in the game when jefferson was in, gotten him in foul trouble and forced him to take a seat on the bench.  instead, ben plays 17 minutes, monroe plays only 29 minutes. jefferson plays 36 minutes, has a great game and skates, only picking up his 3rd foul late in the game.
    i wonder what the logic was behind those moves?

    • Mar 12, 201211:38 pm
      by Patrick Hayes


      Yeah. Fire Lawrence Frank. You guys are totally right. It’s bullshit that Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight didn’t play 48 minutes tonight. Especially when they both played wonderful defense and shot the ball so efficiently. Oh, and Knight took really good care of the ball too. WHY WON’T FRANK JUST RIDE THOSE HOT HANDS!? And those 18 minutes of adequate defense by Ben Wallace totally cost the Pistons this game.

      • Mar 12, 201211:44 pm
        by RationalSportsFan


        Well, congrats on COMPLETELY misconstruing my position (as well as frankie d’s it seems).  The runner of this great site (and, seriously,  I truly enjoy it) should respond better than the average internet commenter.

        • Mar 12, 201211:53 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          Well, this is a long debate for Frankie and I. He feels strongly one way, I feel strongly the other. His post pretty clearly glossed over some facts, like the fact that Monroe was really ineffective offensively and defensively in the first half. No one defended Jefferson well tonight, but Wallace at the very least made him work harder than Monroe was. That’s a pretty important point to include in a discussion here.

          • Mar 12, 201211:59 pm
            by RationalSportsFan

            Oh, didn’t know about your and Frankie’s history.
            And to be fair, not many people can really defend a hot Jefferson.  Making him work for it is about the best you can expect.

        • Mar 12, 201211:59 pm
          by Patrick Hayes


          And as for “better than the average internet commenter,” I have never made apologies for arguing against points I don’t think are strong ones, and I don’t expect readers to hold back when they think I’ve made a weak argument (and lucky for me I guess, they don’t).

          I understand your point and Frankie’s point: the Pistons should care less about winning and play their young guys in late game situations regardless of their performance to that point in a given game.

          I just think it’s nitpicky here. Monroe played two minutes less than his season average. Knight played right at his season average. I don’t think having Monroe get abused by Al Jefferson for 2-3 more minutes would’ve been particularly beneficial, especially when he has to face another bruising big man in Sacramento Wednesday. I don’t think Knight getting schooled by Devin Harris for another couple minutes would offer all that much value when he has to contend with Evans/Isaiah Thomas, two tough matchups of their own, Wednesday.

          Those two guys clearly didn’t have it tonight, not that their replacements did either. Saving a few minutes for each guy to hopefully make them fresher in the next game is just not a bad strategy and not harmful to their development.

          • Mar 13, 201212:02 am
            by RationalSportsFan

            Agreed that it is a bit nitpicky, but a team like the Pistons need to push every potential edge…so, if it would be even SLIGHTLY better for the Stones to play  Greg and Brandon a few extra mins, they need to do so…
            Here’s hoping we somehow win the lottery this year, get Anthony Davis, and don’t have to worry about pushing small edges any more!

  • Mar 13, 20122:39 am
    by frankie d


    my initial point is being lost.
    i agree that detroit has no one who can guard jefferson.
    monroe is clearly not that guy and ben is past his prime.
    but just as detroit had no one to guard jefferson, jefferson could not guard monoe.  
    jefferson is one of the most notoriously bad defenders in the nba.
    this is what i posted during the first quarter:
    “the pistons are not exploiting the fact that jefferson is a horrible defender.  they should be going to him every time down to try to get him in foul trouble and on the bench.  otherwise he will really hurt you.”
    al jefferson is known as a bad defender.  if you get him about 12-15 feet away from the basket, any offensive player can just walk around him.  .
    so the strategy for a team in detroit’s position should be to make utah pay for having a bad defender on the court.
    and with a guy like jefferson, that means one of several things.
    making him defend.  not likely.
    or if he won’t defend, make him foul.  that is good because it limits his time on the floor and as i noted, he is less likely to kill you.
    and if he won’t foul – because he wants to stay on the floor – then greg monroe scores 40 points tonight. 
    and nowadays, jefferson will either foul or simply give up the points.  he is one of the league’s worst big man defenders, even worse than his numbers indicate. 
    detroit was in an ideal position tonight.  
    and then this sequence happens:
    jefferson had picked up his second foul with over 2 minutes to go in the first quarter.
    he goes out immediately.
    monroe goes out 1&1/2 minutes later. ben w. replaces him.
    jefferson comes back in with over 8 minutes to go in the first half.
    monroe doesn’t come back into the game until 4 minutes later, with a little over 4 minutes left in the half.after monroe left the game with a minute left in the first quarter, his replacement, wallace, did not attempt a shot.
    when monroe returned, with 4 minutes to go in the first half, he attempted one shot. 
    that is exactly what utah wanted.  their horrible defensive center gets a break because he doesn’t have to guard the totally offensively-incompetent backup center who is playing more minutes than usual for some inexplicable reason.
    (teams are treating ben wallace as they treated him when carlisle coached the team: they literally do not guard him.  he can stand 10 feet from the basket with the ball and no one will guard him.)
    the point i made as the game was progressing – this is not hindsight! – is that the pistons should do everything they can do to get jefferson in foul trouble.  
    they can’t guard him.  but he is a horrible defender.  common sense says go after him.  get him in foul trouble so he has to sit on the bench, instead of lighting up the pistons’ inadequate defenders.
    playing wallace extended minutes in this particular game is so mindnumbingly stupid, it boggles the mind. 
    did he do a better job defending than monroe?
    i guess….in the sense that he looked a little better while he was getting abused, i guess he did a better job.  
    but did he stop jefferson from getting his shots and his points? no.
    the coach’s fixation on ben’s “defense” was illustrated beautifully tonight. 
    his “defense” didn’t prevent jefferson from scoring tonight.  in fact, jefferson made lots of his point against wallace’s “defense”.
    would the team have been better off if monroe had been in the game and if the team had focused on making jefferson either defend or give up easy baskets or foul?
    imho, yes.  
    it is pretty simple.  ben w. couldn’t defend jefferson.  no one on detroit could defend jefferson.  so why ignore a strategy of trying to force  jefferson  to  defend/or foul/or give up easy baskets?
    this is a perfect example of what i consider to be a  the lack of “feel” for the game.  not only did he fail to recognize and understand the obvious way to go with his personnel – limit ben’s minutes; set monroe up to exploit his matchup with jefferson – but he exacerbated the situation by doing exactly the worse thing: allowing jefferson to go long stretches where he did not have to guard anyone, where he could save his energy for the offensive end.  
    a very winnable game tonight against a very flawed team that had its share of turmoil.
    unfortunately, the coach was on a siesta, when he should have been thinking of ways to get al jefferson off the court.

    • Mar 13, 20129:37 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      This isn’t grounded in the reality of what actually happened. This is your point: Al Jeff doesn’t defend well and picked up two fouls, so Monroe should’ve went at him. Maybe so.

      But to say that without mentioning that Jefferson actually defended Monroe quite well in the first half, pushing him off his spots and forcing him into tougher shots than he wanted (believe Monroe started 1-for-5ish and didn’t shoot the ball well all night) just isn’t making an honest argument. So it’s the coaching staff’s fault that Monroe shot the ball poorly and didn’t establish good position? Please.

  • Mar 13, 201212:28 pm
    by frankie d


    “This isn’t grounded in the reality of what actually happened.”
    fact: jefferson had two fouls in the first 9&1/2 minutes and had to sit as a result. getting two fouls like that is never good.  and he had to come out of the game as a result.
    he may have defended monroe relatively well, but he still fouled.  again, jefferson is notorious and has been throughout his career for this.  it is hardly news and surprising.  it is what he does…in addition to torching teams with his devastating low post game.
    “actually defended Monroe quite well in the first half, pushing him off his spots and forcing him into tougher shots than he wanted (believe Monroe started 1-for-5ish and didn’t shoot the ball well all night)
    only partially true.
    yes, monroe started off 1-5, but ended up making 4 of his last 7 shots to end 5-12.  he was definitely starting to shoot the ball better in the second half and was becoming more engaged offensively as the game went on.  in the 3rd quarter, he scored 9 points and had 3 assists.  and then he sat down with 48 seconds in the 3rd quarter and did not return until there were 3 minutes left in the game, with detroit behind by 3.
    yes, jefferson actually defended monroe well, initially, but monroe did what he does routinely…he adjusted as the game went on. 
    this is a pattern with monroe that was discussed by myself and other commenters after the atlanta game.  the first time he plays against a player, he will often take a while to figure him out.  and then he will make an adjustment – sometimes between games, but sometimes, as in the atlanta  and this game, in the middle of the game – and start to have success against that guy.
    that appeared to be what was happening against jefferson.
    jefferson is pretty simple to attack and i was surprised that monroe tried to attack him the way he originally did.  he started off deep in the low post and the lower part of the midpost.  this is right where jefferson can be reasonably effective.  in fact, i wouldn’t doubt that jefferson lured monroe down low, gave up ground to get monroe into an area where he could defend him. and, yes, down low, jefferson does a decent job generally, and last night he did a good job on monroe.
    jefferson’s achillles heel defensively is when he has to defend away fron the basket, out in space.  he is one of the league’s worst big men defending the pick and roll and he has horrible lateral movement.  what monroe discovered and started doing in the second half was that he just needed to get jefferson out in the 12-15+ foot area.  once he did that he started to have success.  he hit jumpers and he started to go around jefferson and when others came over to help jefferson, he found the open man with his assists.  
    the beautiful thing about monroe’s game is that he has that kind of versatility.  if he can’t work in the low post, he can go out in space and work like a small forward with mid-range shots and dribble drives.(which is something the utah broadcasters marveled at.)
    and just when monroe started rolling, frank takes him out and sits him for 9 minutes at the crucial part of the game.
    in that 3rd quarter, when monroe was rolling, jefferson had 2 baskets, 2 free throws and 3 turnovers.  
    imho, what was happening was something this fan has seen plenty of times this year: monroe had figured out something, had adjusted and was starting to get the best of the guy trying to guard him.
    and then, frank sits him down for 9 minutes.
    it really didn’t make sense.
    monroe looked like he was on his way to a huge half.  he could have carried detroit offensively.  detroit only scored 13 points in the 4th quarter and obviously needed offensive punch.  
    (it also didn’t help that frank used a lineup with 3 nonshooters on the floor for long stretches during that time.)
    this is a perfect example of frank’s lack of “feel” in games.  it is exactly what  i’ve noted several times.  often, he sticks to rotations that just are not working.  it was worse at the beginning of the year, but it is still an issue, as evidenced by last night’s game.  
    again, this is not “hindsight” as i touched on this issue in a comment in the first quarter.  and i questioned why monroe was not in the game in the middle of his fourth quarter banishment.
    it’s just one game, and one loss so it is not that big of a deal, obviously.  but because it is a habit of the coach and a real pattern, imho, it is something that continually hurts the team and will continue to do so.
    i hope frank takes note and makes his own adjustments.
    btw, i did not said anything about monroe and knight not playing in crunch time.  i just didn’t complain about that.
    i think my comments on last night’s game were pretty much confined to how monroe was handled…his PT, how he was subbed in and out, the way they used him last night.
    i have to admit i did think it was odd that gordon, once again, was out on the court at crunch time, but i didn’t say anything.   i imagined frank understood something i did not about using gordon and knight in that situation.

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