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Pistons have heartbreaking loss to Bulls, but Rodney Stuckey will be better for this

Let’s get this out of the way up front: I know Rodney Stuckey missed two free throws near the end of regulation, either of which would’ve made Derrick Rose’s game-tying three an irrelevant lead-cutting three in the final seconds. More on that in a second though. Rose getting that clean a look was Greg Monroe‘s fault.

The Bulls had no timeouts, Rose’s man got rubbed on a screen and, with the Bulls in need of a three, Monroe back-pedaled, as he would in most normal situations with Rose in front of him in the open court so that he doesn’t get blown by. But a blow-by at that point in the game would’ve been fine. The Bulls need a three, Monroe gave Rose a lot of space on that switch and Rose did what Rose is known for doing, hit a big shot to send the game to overtime. (NOTE: Just watched Lawrence Frank on Fox Sports Detroit say that the plan was to foul Rose before he could get a shot off, but Ben Gordon got too hung up in the screen to grab Rose and Monroe stayed to far back to foul before getting the shot off).

But back to Stuckey, the other factor in a poorly played final minute that erased an otherwise really good effort by the Pistons. Stuckey split at the line twice in that final minute and actually hit only 13-for-18 of his free throws in the game (72 percent compared to his season average of 84 percent). When the Pistons walked off the court as regulation ended, a visibly upset Stuckey had his jersey pulled over his head and had to be consoled by several teammates. That whole scene is a big change from a year ago, when there were times Stuckey didn’t care all that much when he was on the court and the entire Pistons team seemed hesitant to comfort or support each other in trying moments.

It’s unfortunate regulation ended that way for Stuckey, because he was brilliant in the game. He scored 32 points on just 19 shots. Chicago’s guards couldn’t keep him out of the lane and he absorbed crazy amounts of contact from the Bulls’ physical frontline as he contorted his way to the hoop. He out-played Rose (24 points on 22 shots) and really, for the first time in his career, looked like Detroit’s leader on the court. As the season wraps up, Dan and I will write much, much more about the season Stuckey has had, but moments like this, where he comes up just a bit short, show just how much he’s improved as a player in order to get the Pistons in a position to win against a much better team and matured as a leader as his teammates definitely followed the example he set with his aggressiveness, defense and energy.

On Friday, Dan wrote about Detroit’s effort against Milwaukee being close to perfect. In essence, they played well enough to win without actually winning while other teams they’re in the mix with for lottery odds won. Well, if Friday was close to perfect, tonight was fully perfect. The Pistons were more competitive against a better team, still lost and still gain lottery position as Toronto and Sacramento both won tonight.

That’s no comfort to a Pistons team that deserved this win and, I’m sure, desperately wants to end that now 15 game losing streak to Chicago. But it doesn’t have to be consolation to them. They keep showing that their young players are starting to understand the level they have to play at to win consistently in this league, they keep coming up just a bit short and, hopefully, those losses now result in improved chances at landing another impact player to help the cause next season.

Villanueva and Gordon shine … defensively?

OK, so I’m exaggerating a tad. But Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon both gave the Pistons a lift, and both guys surprisingly held their own defensively. Villanueva, who got a shot at early playing time and made the most of it, scored 13 points and had three rebounds. He’s never going to be an instinctively good defender, but he is strong enough to do what he did tonight: hold his position in the post. Chicago’s bigs are strong and have established good post position against Detroit’s frontcourt in each meeting this season. Villanueva successfully pushed Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson further away from the basket than they wanted to set up and he made a nice defensive play holding his ground against Gibson and stripping the ball from him when Gibson tried to shoot anyway.

Unfortunately, Villanueva also played a role in that fourth quarter that went really poorly late. He was called for a (completely bogus, in my opinion) flagrant foul against Rose on a layup attempt (Villanueva clearly made a play at the ball and his arm happened to make contact accidentally with Rose’s nose). Then, they jawed back and forth afterwards and Villanueva picked up a technical. So Chicago got three free throws plus the ball and ended up wiping out a four-point deficit on one possession. I think it was weak that Villanueva got the technical too. Rose was jawing way more than Villanueva, it appeared on TV. I don’t understand why it wasn’t a double technical, but whatever. It was an unfortunate cap to what was otherwise Villanueva’s best performance since last season.

As for Gordon, he made a nice defensive play blocking a C.J. Watson jumper, blocked another shot and had a steal. He didn’t provide much offense and his ball-handling was its sloppy self, but Gordon was committed and tough on defense. That hasn’t happened a lot in his Pistons career, so it’s worth pointing out, even if he didn’t score big.

Knight is good and not so good

The positive for Brandon Knight? He had seven assists, the third straight game he’s had seven or more. That’s the longest such streak he’s had this season. The not so positive? He had a season high seven turnovers. Chicago’s perimeter defense is good, but a lot of those turnovers were unforced, a result of Knight’s sloppiness moreso than Chicago’s defense. Stuckey, conversely, faced that same defense, handled the ball nearly as much and didn’t turn it over.

Knight hit five of his 10 shots and I’m really encouraged that this modest streaks hows a bit of consistency when it comes to him looking to set up other guys for good shots. I hope he can continue it until the end of the season and hope that the spike in turnovers was a one game blip.

Monroe struggles but battles

Chicago’s frontcourt has beat up on Monroe this season, and that was no different tonight. They contested virtually everything he put up and he only made 5-of-13 shots. He struggled to keep Joakim Noah off the glass (17 rebounds, 13 of which were offensive) and he had some noticeable mistakes (like the one highlighted above, for instance), but something that I liked: he still played a 41 minutes, nearly matching his season high. Frank has benched Monroe for costly miscues late in close games before. Tonight, he let Monroe play through those mistakes and stay on the court. With a back-to-back-to-back starting Tuesday, hopefully Monroe makes good use of his day off tomorrow.

This … (via)

I can’t find video but …

I thought the above dunk by Jason Maxiell was the best play of the game, until Damien Wilkins absolutely destroyed Kyle Korver on a break. I can’t do it justice with a description, but Wilkins drove hard at the basket, slowed down and acted like he was pulling the ball back out, then Korver pretty much stood straight up and looked the other way as Wilkins drove baseline for a dunk. I know I shouldn’t expect a lot out of the man who plays defense this way, but come on Kyle!

No Jonas

Jonas Jerebko received a DNP-CD most likely because he is physically over-matched against Chicago’s frontline and he’s played really poorly offensively (below 30 percent shooting) in three games vs. the Bulls this season while also not being able to defend Boozer, Noah, Gibson or Asik effectively. The bigger Villanueva got the first crack at Chicago off the bench and when he played well, I assume that’s why Jerebko didn’t get in.

I haven’t seen an injury or anything like that reported so, like Knight’s seven turnovers, I hope this is just a one-game thing and Jerebko is back in his normal role Tuesday.

30 Comments

  • Apr 15, 20129:38 pm
    by Yooper

    Reply

    Any particular reason Jonas Jerebko did not play tonight? As I watched the game I found that quite curious that he did not play at all. On a side note Charlie V. played well but I feel when he is in there like always rebounding is terrible. And could we ever get a call from a ref that sure would be nice Monroe, Stuckey, and Knight all got fouled or bumped and there was no call. I guess thats what you get for having the best record and the leagues MVP.

    • Apr 15, 201210:20 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s because Jonas has played really poorly vs. Chicago this season, plus been over-matched physically. Frank probably gave Villanueva a shot early just because he’s bigger, and when Villanueva played OK, he stuck with him.

      I assume it’s just a one game thing, unless there’s an injury or something that hasn’t been reported.

      • Apr 15, 201210:25 pm
        by MNM

        Reply

        I thought Frank had said that to put CV in, someone had to sit out of his rotation..He knows what he has in JJ and CV is making a lot of money and is in the best shape since his 2nd year. It’s basically the end of the season and this organization has to make a decision about Charlie..It’s less about JJ as it’s more about CV… At least thats MY opinion.

        • Apr 15, 201210:49 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          Could be. But you could make the case that they still have to evaluate Daye too, so why wouldn’t he be getting Wilkins minutes if Frank is going into evaluation mode? I would guess just based on Frank’s pattern, this is just a one game thing, but we’ll see. I definitely wouldn’t want to see Jerebko lose minutes even if I do agree they should see if Villanueva has anything over these last few games.

          • Apr 15, 201210:58 pm
            by MNM

            Oh believe me, I agree on the Austin Daye point.. I’ve been calling for Daye to get minutes..It just seems that this organization likes playing veterans in most cases, because it “feels safe” to them. They want wins and can’t help themselves..The vets give this team a better chance to win games…Something I’ve been against since it’s doing them little to no good in the short term and/or long term..something we’ve already been over in a previous posts..(sigh..)

  • Apr 15, 201210:00 pm
    by Corey

    Reply

    I assume Frank wanted to give CV some meaningful minutes to see where he’s at. Hopefully that’s all that’s behind JJ not playing. And hopefully it’s Macklin’s turn next game!

  • Apr 15, 201210:02 pm
    by Stuckey and Whoever

    Reply

    Great game overall.  The Bulls just had a game like this with the Heat early this week, and a lot of people blamed James for missing closing free throws that left the Heat with a three point lead.  Chicago comes down hits a three and win in overtime.  The Pistons and Heat both should of fouled so the three would not be possible.  I am not excusing Stuck especially when you get 4 tries.  You have to make 3 of those at least.  But if your up three with seconds left, if you don’t foul all they have is a three point shot.  You just can’t give up a shot like that, but the positive was a lot to learn from.  The best teams get a lot of calls, (CV foul clearly going after the ball) but we had our chances and need to take better care of the ball.

  • Apr 15, 201210:09 pm
    by tarsier

    Reply

    It’s hard to complain when the Pistons play the Bulls (with Rose) and it took some help from the zebras for them to get beat.

  • Apr 15, 201210:12 pm
    by Edgar

    Reply

    I’m interested to see where you guys go with the Stuckey evaluation. He’s definitely progressed as a teammate and a leader. You could probably measure that in terms of strikes participated in and number of pouty faces. Statistically, he seems to be the same player though. His three-point percentage is up and I think his overall field goal percentage is up slightly. Surprisingly that hasn’t really translated into more output per game. Aside from those two upticks, he’s basically performing at career averages. Stats don’t tell the whole story though, so I’m anxious to find out how he’s improved.

    • Apr 16, 20124:01 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Stuckey started the year off pretty poorly. So his improvement won’t show as much in his season stats. But in the second half of the season, he’s been playing very well.

      Stuckey (first half):
      12.8 ppg 2.5 rpg 4.1 apg 0.5 spg 0.1 bpg 39/38/85 % .50 FTA/FGA
      Stuckey (second half):
      18.7 ppg 3.0 rpg 4.0 apg 1.0 spg 0.3 bpg 49/33/83 % .58 FTA/FGA

      So in the second half of the season, Stuckey has really shown improvement, especially in efficiency. He’s hooting a fantastic percentage and getting to the line a ton. Unfortunately, his 3 point shooting has slipped a little.

  • Apr 15, 201210:18 pm
    by MNM

    Reply

    Ping pong balls.. That’s the main point at this point. But they will hit a bump in the road on tuesday when they most likely beat the Cavs on tuesday before most likely losing to the Hawks on Wednesday. Heres to hoping that Daye and Macklin get playing time now.

    • Apr 15, 201210:46 pm
      by Anthony

      Reply

      Daye sucks!!!! Get that through your head and give up on him like he did himself!!!! Thats all i have to say about that!

      • Apr 15, 201211:03 pm
        by MNM

        Reply

        Never said Austin Daye DIDN’T suck..Where did I say that? Get that through YOUR head.  The point this year was to “develop young talent”..Playing a bunch of veterans for meaningless wins in the name of “pride” and therefor potentially hurting your lottory stock isn’t something Im willing to accept from at team that told us that they were gonna “get younger” and were “rebuilding”… Pay attention.

  • Apr 15, 201210:41 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    Good game , I’m proud of those guys. This is the first time they played Chicago in a long time with any fight. The last tie was when Stuck scored 40 on them. Frank is doing a good job with them boys, they had Chicago sweating. Just give Frank some good draft pieces and have a full training camp along with a full preseason and there good to go. I remember not so long ago Chicago was in the same point as a team. oh yeah and if you don’t know how Stuck has improved , maybe because you haven’t watched any of his games before he was getting hurt thre past 2 weeks he was averaging 25 7 assist and 5 rebounds for about a month. He’s still hurting now, I notice him grimacing early in the first half. Can’t wait till next season.

  • Apr 15, 201210:45 pm
    by gordbrown

    Reply

    I can’t imagine the confidence it must give a team to know that they can play at less than their best and still have a chance to win because the referees will pull their cookies out of the fire. I can’t believe that Noah of all players is allowed to travel on key plays and stand in the key for five seconds or more and still score. Bad enough that he only gets called for half the fouls he commits. And don’t get me started on Rose. But the play of the game is definitely the phantom flagrant. That cost the Pistons the game.

  • Apr 15, 201211:24 pm
    by Daye and Knight

    Reply

    Good article, good game. Taking the bulls to OT and watching Toronto/Sacramento win was a great way to end the night. Currently Sacramento is projected the 4th pick and after them in Toronto. If they both catch us then we can grab Drummond with our 4th pick after Davis, MKG and Robinson is gone. What would make this better was if we ended up somehow winning the lotto and grabbing Davis…but realistically it won’t happen baring a miracle like the bulls when they were able to get Rose when they had the ninth best odds of landing the first pick. I was warming up to Sullinger a bit but if we can grab the 4th pick and take Drummond I won’t argue that!

  • Apr 16, 201212:17 am
    by 2Tough

    Reply

    Stuckey choked.  Flat out gag job.  No sugar coating here.  He flat out blew the game for the Pistons, and he’ll have to think about that as he lays his head on his pillow tonight.

    • Apr 16, 20122:01 am
      by gmehl

      Reply

      Or Stuckey could have been thinking hmmmm let me see here, i need another big on this team that can block shots and rebound so he thought fcuk it and missed on purpose.

    • Apr 16, 20124:10 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      What exactly do you mean by choking? If you just mean his last minute shots didn’t fall, yeah, I’ll agree with you. But if you mean he cracked under pressure, I won’t. An 80% free throw shooter will go 4/4 41% of the time, 3/4 41% of the time, 2/4 8% of the time, 1/4 1% of the time, and 0/4 almost never. Sometimes a guy misses some shots. Whatever. You deal with it and move on.

      • Apr 16, 20124:19 am
        by tarsier

        Reply

        So I screwed up there and understated my won point. 2/4 should be 15% and 1/4 should be 3%.

  • Apr 16, 20122:32 am
    by Nick II

    Reply

    @gmehl LMAO that’s what Monroe was thinking when he gave derrick rose all that space to shoot the 3 LOL.

    • Apr 16, 20124:29 am
      by gmehl

      Reply

      Yeah I am sure Moose is thinking any extra losses it takes to fall back into a tie with Cleveland and Sacremento then so be it. It will interesting to see who tries to win when we play Cleveland on Tuesday. I am satisfied with the progress we have made this year and if we can somehow finish equal 4th worst and get a better chance at a higher draft pick then i personally won’t think any less of the organisation. If we do finish equal with another team how do they decide who choose first again?

      • Apr 16, 20126:06 am
        by Zeiram

        Reply

        There are tiebreakers for these kinds of situations. I don´t know the exact order (or all factors) but in a two way tie the first thing they look at is the season series. It´s the same thing in the playoff race just upside down^^

        • Apr 16, 20126:27 pm
          by tarsier

          Reply

          Incorrect. For drafting purposes, tiebreakers are completely random. A coin toss, I believe.

          • Apr 16, 20127:16 pm
            by gmehl

            I think a coin toss for a tied record would be a fairer way to do things even though i think by memory we lost the last coin toss in the same situation.

          • Apr 16, 20129:40 pm
            by tarsier

            I’m not sure if it is a coin toss or some other random 50/50 event. But it definitely pays no heed to such things as head-to-head record. And yes, two years ago Detroit lost the tiebreaker to the 76ers. So they got the nominal 6th pick to the Pistons’ nominal 7th. Then they had good ping pong ball luck and moved up to second and selected Turner. Detroit stayed at 7th and got Monroe.

  • Apr 16, 20126:21 am
    by 2Tough

    Reply

    It’s obvious what I meant… the dude caved in under the pressure.  He missed 3 free throws in the last 1:48 of the game.  He had TWO chances to ice the game and he blew it both times.
     
    I sincerely hope the Pistons look into moving Stuckey.   I don’t want our best players being choking enigmas who can’t close out games.

    • Apr 16, 20128:12 am
      by Daye and Knight

      Reply

      Too bad without Stuckey the team is only 2-9 and without Stuckey the game wouldn’t be that close…ya lets move Stuckey so we can lose twice as many games that’s SMART

    • Apr 16, 20129:04 am
      by Stuckey and Whoever

      Reply

      You know the Bulls are like the best team in the league, right?  Who has closed out more games than Stuckey this year?  They are not moving Stuckey flat out..nope.

    • Apr 16, 20126:29 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Fair enough. If that is what you meant I simply 100% disagree with you. He missed some shots. Unless you have any evidence that it was because of pressure, your comment is groundless. Ever heard of the phrase “correlation does not imply causation”? Well for this, you don’t even have correlation. Why? Because it is one game.

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