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Pistons prove they’re no longer pitiful by beating Kings

There are no must-wins this early in the NBA season, but this was a necessary step for the Pistons.

They’d lost 21 straight road games against Western Conference foes and had gone just 1-38 record in their last 39 such games. It was a symptom of a team that often couldn’t win, but never believed it would, even when facing similarly weak opponents.

The Pistons lacked talent and were mentally weak. They clearly upgraded their talent this summer, but it hadn’t been clear whether they’d fixed the other problem.

It’s still not clear, but at least their condition has improved.

The Pistons are a much better team than the Kings and should win most games like this. This victory doesn’t deserve wide celebration, but a loss would have caused real worry.

Now that we know the Pistons are progressing, it’s time to set higher expectations – like seeing them win a Western Conference road game outside Sacramento for the first time in more than three years.

Detroit Pistons 97 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Sacramento Kings
Greg Monroe, PF 30 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +7

The once-oft-made comparisons between Monroe and DeMarcus Cousins have become less relevant now that the Pistons have surrounded Monroe with actual talent. Detroit’s success is no longer so desperately tied to Monroe (though Sacramento’s is still very reliant on Cousins), but I was still drawn to the matchup. I’m not sure which player I’d prefer given all factors, but games like this show why Cousins has a much higher ceiling. Cousins (26 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks) is an amazing athlete and has great size. At times, it seemed like he just flew around the court. Monroe can still produce, but because he’s not on that level athletically, he must labor to make more of his plays.

Josh Smith, SF 44 MIN | 6-13 FG | 7-10 FT | 8 REB | 7 AST | 5 STL | 4 BLK | 4 TO | 21 PTS | +11

He was more successful on his bad shots than his good shots, so hopefully this game doesn’t reinforce Smith’s desire to take long jumpers early in the shot clock. He was also aggressive getting to the rim and making plays for teammate, though. On the other end, Smith mostly did not force the Kings into offensive mistakes. Rather, they did that to themselves. But Smith put himself in position to take advantage of Sacramento’s miscues. In previous years, the Pistons haven’t had players who have the athleticism and defensive awareness to make opponents pay for making the ball available. I’d like Smith to force the issue more in the long run, but against a bad offense tonight, he successfully made the defensive plays available to him.

Andre Drummond, C 36 MIN | 7-13 FG | 1-3 FT | 18 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 15 PTS | +7

Used his size well to score and rebound in traffic. As teams focus more on him, Drummond will have less space to operate, so this type of growth is imperative – especially on a Pistons team that struggles to space the floor.

Brandon Jennings, PG 39 MIN | 5-14 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +11

I didn’t love Jennings’ shot selection, but he did a good job of getting up court and the Pistons’ into their offense quickly. He threw an alley-oop off the backboard to Drummond, who looked stunned to receive it but still finished. Players should use the backboard like that more often.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +1

Caldwell-Pope is clearly a starter in name only, with Rodney Stuckey and Kyle Singler both playing more than him. But it seems Caldwell-Pope is a legitimate part of the rotation now, and that should only help his development. Generally, I believe players should hunt 3-pointers rather than long 2s. But Caldwell-Pope has clearly been jittery from long range early in his rookie year. I definitely don’t mind him scooting inside for slightly easier looks just to get his confidence up, as Caldwell-Pope did a couple times early. Hopefully, that helps put him on the right track.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 7 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -5

Jerebko made the most of his limited minutes, and games like this boost his case for re-joining the rotation. When he focuses on cutting and spotting up for open shots rather than over-dribbling, like he did tonight, Jerebko is effective.

Luigi Datome, SF 1 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2

Only the very best shooters in the NBA can come in cold and knock down shots. Maybe we should accept that Datome is not one of the very best shooters in the NBA. He could still become a helpful rotation piece, but it’s time to lower expectations for the time being.

Kyle Singler, SF 23 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +3

Singler was definitely active, leading both to shots inside on offense and fouls committed on defense.

Will Bynum, PG 8 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -7

Might Bynum be headed out of the rotation once Chauncey Billups gets healthy? Bynum didn’t do much tonight.

Rodney Stuckey, SG 30 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +5

Stuckey played well from mid-range, both shooting and passing. He’s not a good 3-point shooter, and he struggles to finish at the rim. Perhaps, this is becoming his niche.

Maurice Cheeks

I was very curious what Cheeks would do after pledging lineup changes, but Billups’ injury forced his hand. Interestingly, Cheeks used Smith, Monroe and Drummond together 31 minutes, just shy of the season-high 32 minutes they played together against the Grizzlies. Is that a long-term shift? Not necessarily. Those three have struggled defensively as a trio, though they were excellent together tonight. Usually, Detroit’s jumbo front line leaves too many shooters open, because Smith, Monroe and Drummond lack the collective foot speed to cover enough ground. But the Kings, who are still getting used to running an actual offense after years of bad ball, weren’t prepared to take advantage with deft passing.

18 Comments

  • Nov 16, 201312:23 pm
    by @GPMasters

    Reply

    Cheeks deserves credit for the sets he ran in the final part of the game. As noted by Goodwill and Ellis, those Jennings-Smith pick and rolls utterly routed the Kings in the end.

  • Nov 16, 201312:27 pm
    by Mikeyahoosports

    Reply

    They would have one with last years roster. This game shows nothing. 

    • Nov 16, 20133:23 pm
      by Max

      Reply

      Well, your comment is certainly pretty worthless and poorly written too.   

  • Nov 16, 20134:55 pm
    by jg22

    Reply

    On your comment about Datome. He actually did come in cold off the bench and made a shot. To close the 1st half, Cheeks calleda a TO with 7 seconds left, inserted Datome into the game and drew up a play for him to get an open midrange shot. He swished it at the buzzer. Great shot, great execution, and great coaching on that play. 
    Which leads me to comment on Cheeks only getting a C+. That play/decision to bring in Datome was just one of the many great moves he made last night. I thought he coached his best game of the year. He benched Bynum when he was playing poor. He rode guys when they were playing great like Smith/Drummond. He rode plays that were working over and over until SAC was forced into a zone, like the pick/roll with Jennings/Smith.
    I’d give him a solid A-

    • Nov 16, 20135:01 pm
      by jg22

      Reply

      Oh and he started KCP over Stuckey which proved to be the right move, as both played great in their roles, and most of all the team played great with them in their correct roles.
      Cheeks is pushing the right buttons right now. After benching Smith, he motivated him to come back with this magnificant game. After benching Drummond vs OKC, Andre has avg 16/16 in the 3 games since.
      Also, he got Jennings playing maybe his best true PG game last night with 9 assists and 1 turnover, and better yet, the team offense had 26 assists and only 11 turnovers, so Jennings was running the whole offense, not just racking up assists by penetrating and dishing like Bynum
      I’m very happy with Cheeks coaching right now.

  • Nov 16, 20136:52 pm
    by Frankdog

    Reply

    jesus, that was the one of the most doom and gloom assessments of a win I’ve ever read. 

  • Nov 16, 20137:24 pm
    by Otis

    Reply

    I have to laugh at the assertion that this game taught us anything about where the team is going. It helped remind everyone that Moose is actually surprisingly expendable. Smith does a lot more and should be playing PF anyways, so let’s ship Moose out by February and move on with our lives. The Wiz was a better, though still meaningless, measuring stick. Lakers should be meaningless too. The only thing that matters is how we stack up with the top half of the league, because those are the guys you have to get through to win an eventual championship, and if this formula isn’t working, you gotta cash in on the Moose.

    • Nov 16, 20139:32 pm
      by D_S_V

      Reply

      You must get along so well with the folks at DBB!

      • Nov 17, 20133:38 pm
        by Otis

        Reply

        I do follow that site, but not a fan of the community. So I only comment here.

    • Nov 16, 201310:05 pm
      by Some Dude

      Reply

      How does it make Monroe expandable? So what he didn’t have a good game. It happens. And when one of our big 3 doesn’t have it one night the other two do. If Smith is off, Monroe/Drummond play well. If Drummond is off, Monroe/Smith play well, and so on. It’s a luxury to have 3 reliable bigs on the team. 
      Get over yourself with the trade Monroe bull crap.

      • Nov 17, 20133:57 pm
        by Otis

        Reply

        For one thing, I just plain think he’s expendable. I think if you want a basket in the low post, you can dump the ball to Smith down low and post him up. Smith should be our top scorer, and when he’s on his game he just generally scores in the flow of the offense. When Greg is on his game, they post him up in isolayshaun plays where he flips the ball up and either gets a bucket or doesn’t. We can debate this all day, but I just plain think he’s very near his ceiling and isn’t going to take this team very far… especially as a power forward.
         
        As far as two of our bigs being on and the other off, doesn’t that maybe give you some indication that perhaps this town isn’t big enough for all three of them?? I mean, ideally wouldn’t you like to have three top players who could theoretically all have great games on the same night? I mean, you’re literally never going to win a championship with a core that can’t all jell together at the same time. And I certainly don’t see that happening with our bigs. And you can’t possibly invest so much in these three guys so that two of them at most will have a good game.
         
        It’s not about getting over myself, friend. It’s about the fact that this FABULOUS luxury of having three great bigs who can’t all play together is going to be much more of a drag in the long run than if we divided our resources among the front line and the perimeter. You know, so that maybe once in a while we can have a game when one of our Big Three isn’t a total non-factor just because there’s not enough room on the court and not enough touches to go around? Ya know? Like maybe have a team that’s built with some balance so we can build a formula for sustainable success? Like, just maybe? Would that be so bad?
         
        The alternative seems to be that we can PROUDLY boast that we’re #1 in points in the paint, but we’re #30 in points outside the paint and we can’t beat any halfway decent opponents (we sure haven’t so far) because the team can only hurt you from one area of the court and is extremely easy to game plan. A lot of people seem to be very content with that, and maybe they’re the ones who should get over themselves. PS I actually think it’s sad and pathetic that we don’t even have the #1 starting front court in rebounds. I mean, we’re built to lead the league in rebounding and points-in-the-paint and wasted potential, and we can’t even win rebounds. SMH

      • Nov 17, 20134:27 pm
        by Otis

        Reply

        Oops! I forgot to add: When you spoke about this glorious luxury of having all these wonderful big men who can’t play together: I was going to make a joke about how being an underachieving, low ceiling team that DOMINATES one area of the game but is grossly deficient in other important areas and won’t be able to address those holes unless they’re willing to trade off from their area of strength. It’s like having the biggest TV on the block. Like, a ten foot 1080p LCD 3DTV with surround sound, but you live in a van. I’ll start getting excited about how we dominate one area of the game once the team is no longer sleeping in a van. Beating Sacto, Boston and the Wiz doesn’t mean anything. I’m not sure we’re better than the Lakers, but it’s still in the same category. Our faith in the team should be almost entirely based on how they stack up to the top half (heck, maybe top third) of the league. Because once Moose’s $11 million pay raise kicks in, without a pick this year, you don’t have very much room to add help.

  • Nov 16, 20137:49 pm
    by hoophabit

    Reply

    Wow, some of these opinions are amazing.  Datome goes 1 for 3 and with 3(?) games under his belt it’s time to lower expectations?  Maybe that is the right thing, but this sample size is pretty small.  Moose has an off game where the whistles went against him and now we’re “reminded he’s surprisingly expendable?”  Sorry, but he’s been our most consistently productive player so far.

  • Nov 16, 20138:26 pm
    by Lethal Leeroy

    Reply

    A good win boys. I think that beating the teams you are supposed to beat is a good start. The better teams are better for a reason though, so we need to find the rotation that takes us past that threshold… Thus was a step in right direction. Starters are much better balanced with KCP at the 2. CB and Stuckey look better suited as back ups, and KS and GD look to round out a regular 9 man rotation… Dont want to see anyone but Dre and Greg play the 5, and smith and Greg the 4. That should be enough to get us to a lower playoff spot… But getting to that elite level will need a trade, I think,. and rapid development of KCP and GD as >40% 3pt shooters.

  • Nov 16, 201311:55 pm
    by James Hunter

    Reply

    Im ready to see Cheeks bench Kyle Singler and give Tony Mitchell quality minutes off the bench, KS is in a shooting slum hes like 2 for 15 from 3, for the season so its not like we’re gonna miss his shooting. He sticks terrible defense, isnt a great rebounder, and takes bad fouls. TM can give the hustle plays just like KS, He can give us second chance points off the bench, but most off all HE CAN PROTECT THE RIM off the bench. I got faith in Tony Mitchell.

  • Nov 17, 20133:56 pm
    by Vote for Dumbars

    Reply

    Dumars should package stuckey and singler to Orlando for Aaron Affallo, we should’ve never let that guy go.

  • Nov 17, 20138:12 pm
    by Big moose 4 life

    Reply

    Trade moose Charlie v and stuckey for demar derozin and Rudy gay 

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