Category → Game Review
The Pistons haven’t had much of anything to play for for weeks now, and their 10-game losing streak and often disinterested play is a reflection of that. But we got a nice reprieve tonight as the Pistons gave a game effort and actually led at halftime as they took their turn at trying to end Miami’s historic winning streak. Not surprisingly, they weren’t successful, and that’s OK. It was nice to simply see some fight — including Jonas Jerebko, who always seems to irritate the Heat whenever the teams play, inducing a flagrant foul out of Mario Chalmers and Greg Monroe having one of his best games of the season with 23 points, 15 rebounds and six assists. Also, Kim English continues to be highly entertaining — he played solid defense in his 12 minutes of action. A little too solid. He picked up six fouls and fouled out in those 12 minutes.
The Pistons have had plenty of halftime leads and seen them evaporate this season, but tonight’s three-point lead seemed particularly unsafe. The Heat have been toying with bad teams a bit of late, including overcoming a 27-point deficit to beat the Cavs earlier this week. The Pistons, at the very least, played hard, played physical and made the Heat work hard. Or, at least work as hard as any team can make the Heat work right now.
Grades generator is down, so you’ll have to settle for text only tonight. Box score is here if you need it.
Jose Calderon (B-) – He shot the ball well and also moved pretty well without the ball — Monroe and Jason Maxiell both found him on nice cuts to the basket. But he was uncharacteristically sloppy with seven turnovers and he lost Mario Chalmers a couple times for open threes.
Rodney Stuckey (B-) – Stuckey didn’t shoot well, but the fact that I’ve watched so much college basketball the past two days has made me less harsh about that (seriously … college basketball is the worst). Stuckey played hard and did a pretty good job defensively against Dwyane Wade.
Monroe (A) – Monroe had his entire, beautiful offensive game on display tonight. He beat guys off the dribble. He passed from the high post. He took pretty good care of the ball. He made post moves. He even hit an elbow jumper. Monroe has been less consistent this season than we’d been accustomed, but there is no doubt that he’s one of the most skilled big men in the league offensively, and the more weapons the Pistons can put around him next season, the better he’s going to be.
Kyle Singler (A) – Singler made open shots, he rebounded, he moved without the ball and he had one of his best games of the season. He didn’t guard LeBron James particularly well, but who does?
Jason Maxiell (C+) – Maxiell had a nice pass to a cutting Calderon in the first, then also had an early turnover trying to make an extra pass, not bad for a guy who rarely looks to pass.
Jerebko (B) – Jerebko didn’t shoot well, but he did make an open three (something that is vital for him to improve if he’s going to be a rotation player), he grabbed eight rebounds and he was the feisty irritant and hustle player that made him gain so many fans in the first place
Will Bynum (F) – Bynum only played 13 minutes and made no impact in a game the PIstons really could’ve used his scoring off the bench.
English (C-) – English continues to shoot poorly, but he gave the Pistons good minutes defensively, even if he was too foul-happy. He took a good, hard (and clean) foul on James on a run-out that would’ve been a dunk in the first half and he handled himself well defensively against Wade and Ray Allen. I have no problem with is aggressiveness, even if he did pick up quick fouls.
Charlie Villanueva (F) – Ditto what I wrote for Bynum. If the Pistons got any offense at all out of either of their two bench guys whose job is solely to provide offense, they would’ve had a chance to win this game.
Lawrence Frank (A) – After weeks of this team playing like they didn’t care all that much, Frank deserves credit for getting the Pistons prepared enough to compete hard against the Heat. Whether he’s the coach here beyond this season or not, that’s a sign that he’s still respected in the locker room and, even in a lost season, can still motivate the team, even if trying to end Miami’s winning streak was also a motivating factor. The Pistons had a good gameplan. They were physical with Miami, they let Monroe dominate inside against Miami’s collection of stiffs they throw out there at the center position when Chris Bosh isn’t in and, if they got any shooting at all from Bynum or Villanueva, they would’ve had a chance to win on the road against the probable NBA champions who are playing out of their minds right now. Not a bad night for Frank.
|Jason Maxiell, PF 23 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -14
The Pistons grabbed 55 percent of available defensive rebounds when Maxiell was on the court tonight, the lowest mark on the team during a game nearly everyone rebounded poorly, according to NBA.com/stats. He had five defensive rebounds himself, but he didn’t help the Pistons rebound better.
|Greg Monroe, C 32 MIN | 8-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 6 TO | 17 PTS | -28
Monroe established great inside positioning to create many easy looks for himself, and he made some whizzing passes to create sure-fire baskets for his teammates. He even defended his position OK. But six turnovers, even not all of them were his fault, is still much too high. Monroe was in perfect control when taking shots, but those moments between gave him some problems.
|Jose Calderon, PG 8 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -11
Calderon left the game with flu-like symptoms. His hair must have been wet when Deron Williams (14 of his 31 points in the first quarter) breezed by him all those times.
|Rodney Stuckey, PG 34 MIN | 3-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | -21
Stuckey raises expectations and then underwhelms? I am shocked.
|Kyle Singler, SG 29 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -25
Didn’t guard well, didn’t shoot well,
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 19 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -19
Lawrence Frank must be itching to pull him from the rotation.
|Charlie Villanueva, PF 19 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -17
Villanueva hasn’t scored or rebounded more than this in a game in the last 10 days.
|Khris Middleton, SF 21 MIN | 2-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -12
It wasn’t that long ago Middleton raised his 3-point percentage above league average, but he’s sub 30 percent again. Let’s no overreact, in either direction, to fluctuations for someone with such a small total of shots. I stand by my previous opinion: Middleton has not proven he’s a good outsider shooter.
|Viacheslav Kravtsov, C 7 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -5
Didn’t play until garbage time, but he dunked in transition, which is the perfect garbage-time move. He’s getting it.
|Will Bynum, PG 30 MIN | 8-19 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -28
Because he led the team in scoring, Bynum will be the first Piston mentioned in any old-school, non-nuanced article about this game, but that doesn’t mean he actually played well. Bynum should not have taken nine more shots than anyone else on the team. I’m certainly not opposed to Bynum shooting, but many of these were forced looks, especially early, when the game wasn’t totally over.
|Kim English, SG 18 MIN | 3-7 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -5
English has played 99 minutes and appeared in each of the last seven games – that Frank coached. In the six games with Brian Hill at the helm, English played just six minutes and collected five DNP-CDs. If that isn’t evidence the two coaches disagree on English, I don’t know what is. English rewarded Frank’s faith with a not-terrible performance, which put him a step above most his teammates.
|Brandon Knight, PG DNP SPRAINED LEFT ANKLE
Knight had a fantastic night. This happened, and Jason Terry is now the victim of the latest, greatest dunk (and new hero of the anti-fun crowd).
In a moment that symbolizes Frank’s night, Brook Lopez, whom Frank coached with the Nets, ran over to wish Frank well in his return to coaching after dealing with his wife’s illness. However, 5:44 remained on the clock when Lopez approached Detroit’s bench. At that point, though, the game was long over.
|Jason Maxiell, PF 32 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 14 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -15
Maxiell went after rebounds like he wants to earn more than a minimum contract next season. He even made both his jumpers outside the paint.
|Greg Monroe, C 39 MIN | 4-16 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -12
Monroe’s defensive has never been stellar, but it has really fallen off lately. In the last six games, the Pistons have allowed 120.5 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor (107.7 off). The Warriors’ parade of dunks wasn’t completely Monroe’s fault and probably not even mostly Monroe’s fault, but he didn’t do much to stop it.
Monroe usually makes up for his positional-defense struggles on the other end, but he didn’t do so tonight. Not overly athletic, Monroe especially lacked elevation. He had four layups blocked. Andrew Bogut is an excellent defender, and that partially explains Monroe’s struggles, but Monroe can play well enough offensively to supersede good defense. He mostly got good shots tonight. He just missed most of them.
Monroe also must master arguing calls while running back on defense. Standing beneath the opponent’s rim and yelling at the ref is part of the reason his defensive rating is so poor.
|Jose Calderon, PG 30 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -8
Calderon wasn’t really involved much tonight. He hasn’t had so few shots and assists this calendar year, and he’s fallen below six shots and seven assists in this many minutes only twice prior in his career. Calderon’s defense on Stephen Curry was lacking, but that wasn’t the primary problem.
|Rodney Stuckey, PG 38 MIN | 8-18 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | -14
Stuckey guarded Curry more closely than Calderon did, but it didn’t matter much. Curry (31 points on 17 shots and eight assists) is an offensive wonder.
More importantly, Stuckey played with life for the first time in… [checks calendar] … [flips back another month] … [and another] … [hopes nobody notices I didn't complete this sentence]. You could easily argue the cause and effect are revered, but I believed Stuckey had energy because he knew he’d have an opportunity. With Brandon Knight (fourth on the team in shots per minutes) out injured and and Charlie Villanueva (second on the team in shots per minutes) benched, Stuckey knew, not only would he spend nearly all his minutes at the preferred position of shooing guard, he’d have opportunities to handle the ball. Before we get too carried away, Stuckey barely exceeded the minimum of “played energetically,” but for him, that’s huge progress.
|Kyle Singler, SG 29 MIN | 8-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | -19
While you were reading this, Harrison Barnes just beat Singler for another dunk.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 24 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +11
Jerebko took several shots that looked awful leaving his hands, but to his credit, a few went in. His performance wasn’t encouraging, but it got the job done tonight, at least.
|Khris Middleton, SF 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +11
Detroit cut its rotation to eight players, and Middleton still played. The Pistons are clearly giving Middleton a chance to prove himself down the stretch. This is exactly what they should have done with Vernon Macklin last season – except that was even more pressing, because Macklin had an expiring contract, and Middleton’s is guaranteed for next year. Middleton didn’t stand out much tonight one way or the other, but he added data to his sample of his plays.
|Will Bynum, PG 28 MIN | 8-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +6
Bynum scored efficiently, but he appeared at first glance to score more efficiently than he actually did. He neither made a 3-pointer nor attempted a free throw. Still, Bynum’s job is create an offensive spark off the bench, and he did that.
In Hill’s five games as head coach, the Pistons’ offensive rating (93.8) and defensive rating (114.2) would rank last in the NBA over the full season. For reference, Detroit’s offensive rating ranks ranks 23rd overall, and its defensive rating ranks 24th. Perhaps, this is a simple as bad team like the Pistons going through a rough spot while playing a tough stretch of the schedule. But I think the Pistons missing a coach – let alone the head coach – plays a big factor. Lawrence Frank delegated responsibility based on having a full staff, so every coach working now is spread thinner than usual.
All that said, I was mostly pleased tonight given the circumstances. Unlike against the Jazz on Monday, the Pistons appeared to actually run offensive sets. Plus, by benching Villanueva, Hill showed Detroit’s coaching is not completely on autopilot with Frank out.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 29 MIN | 5-14 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -10
Maybe Jerebko deftly establishes tendencies then breaks them once the opponent overreacts – but I don’t think so. Jerebko has stopped shooting all the time, but he always looks like he’s readying himself to hoist. I hate repeatedly watching Jerebko size up the rim while he holds the ball, even if he’s been been passing more often lately. Jerebko has been a terribly inefficient scorer this season, and I just wish he’d go back to the low-usage, highly awesome Jerebko we knew and loved. However, Jerebko, who started for an injured Jason Maxiell, might be a slightly reduced role from going the other direction.
|Greg Monroe, C 41 MIN | 7-15 FG | 1-1 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | -2
Monroe played fine, maybe even well. But his production didn’t stand up to his comments Sunday, when he called out his teammates for lack of effort. But Monroe put in 41 minutes during a game the Jazz led since the first quarter. His teammates who have been mailing it in lately can’t say that, so tonight isn’t the time to challenge Monroe in the locker room.
|Jose Calderon, PG 37 MIN | 6-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -2
Calderon watched the Pistons force jumper after jumper before deciding, "Hey, if we’re going just jack up long 2s, a good shooter might as well take them, and I’m the only one here." Calderon shot 6-of-7 outside the paint. His teammates shot 9-of-30 from the same zone. Calderon’s lack of lateral quickness and strength limits him defensively, but at least he was active on that end tonight. Calderon kept buzzing around, using his smarts to be in the right position a little more often than not, and got his hands on a couple steals, two defensive rebounds and even a block.
|Brandon Knight, PG 4 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2
Knight might have read his own obituary when DeAndre Jordan dunked on him Sunday, but Knight didn’t succumb until Monday. He sprained his ankle just four minutes in and immediately left the game for good. Knight was already having the toughest week in the NBA, and somehow, it got worse. If you believe in basketball karma, Knight certainly temped his fate by forcing two bad shots early, but I would have thought admirably standing up to the backward norms that are ruining basketball and getting dunked on would have bought him a little more leeway.
|Kyle Singler, SG 23 MIN | 1-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -1
Took shots, scored little.
|Charlie Villanueva, PF 21 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -8
Took more shots, scored less.
|Khris Middleton, SF 25 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -12
Middleton made 4-of-5 3-pointers, pushing his season total to 8-of-21 (38 percent). After so much hype about his form, Middleton has finally passed the line to become an above-average 3-point shooter. Of course, we’re still dealing with way too small a sample, but his production matched the aesthetic tonight. He still looks lost on defense, which is to be expected from someone who has played just 174 NBA minutes.
|Viacheslav Kravtsov, C 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -8
The Jazz selected Kravtsov to shoot Knight’s free throws when Knight left the game in the first quarter. As Haralabos Voulgaris pointed out, Brian Hill didn’t call timeout to sub out Kravtsov. In Hill’s defense, a Calderon-Singler-Jerebko-Monroe-Kravtsov lineup actually makes a ton of sense – if you’re tanking.
|Will Bynum, PG 19 MIN | 4-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -11
I’m grading Bynum more favorably than his standard-box-score numbers suggest he deserves, but Bynum was the Pistons’ main source of scoring when they needed it most. He scored 10 of Detroit’s 18 second-quarter points, shooting 4-for-6 in the period when his teammates shot 2-for-11. Bynum missed his five second-half shots, but the Pistons were stuck in the second quarter and had to call on Bynum to take over. You take that every time and the consequences that come with it.
|Rodney Stuckey, PG 35 MIN | 6-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -9
First half: four points and two turnovers in 17 minutes.
Second half: 11 points and no turnovers in 18 minutes.
It’s like Stuckey realized the Jazz were playing lackadaisical enough he could try a little bit and produce, keeping Monroe off his heals for another week. If you’re going to sleepwalk through a season, you have to pick your moments to play hard so it’s not completely obvious.
The Pistons miss Lawrence Frank – badly. Their offense devolved into quick jumpers, and it’s clear they’re missing a coach who can implement a gameplan. Brian Hill is in a tough spot, because he’s surely trying to guess what Frank would do and emulate that while doing what he believes is best. I don’t envy Hill’s challenge, but at this very moment, with a full chance to establish his system, Frank is a much better coach than Hill. Although I want to give Hill slack, how hard is it to tell the players to run some sets rather than just taking terrible shots?
Most Valuable Player
Mo Williams scored seven points during a 12-3 fourth-quarter run that iced the game, coming up big for a balanced Jazz team when it was most needed. Williams finished with 20 points and six assists.
That was.. expected
The Pistons have lost 10 straight in Utah, six straight overall and all 12 road games against Western Conference teams this season. So, it wasn’t a surprise the playoff-hunting Jazz pulled away late. It was a surprise the down-and-out Pistons hung around so long.
If any of you have anything constructive to say about tonight’s game, feel free to do so in the comments. The Clippers shot 63 percent for the game (and would’ve been pushing 70 percent if they didn’t empty their bench). Blake Griffin had 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting in his first six minutes of action, and would’ve done even more damage if he didn’t pick up three quick fouls. Chris Paul had 20 points, 14 assists and no turnovers in just 31 minutes. In short, the Clippers completely picked the Pistons apart, Detroit played no defense and there was literally nothing redeeming to take away from this game. Grades below.
|Brandon Knight, PG 19 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -28Any nondescript losing team like the Pistons struggles to get national news coverage throughout the season as interest wanes. But not every losing team has a selfless up and coming player like Knight, who selflessly goes out of his way to get his team headlines all over the national media. Players all over the league could learn a thing or two from the way Knight approaches his job.|
The only two Pistons who played reasonably well were Jose Calderon, whose solid offensive contributions were dwarfed by those of his counterpart Paul, and done so relatively easily, and Jonas Jerebko, who got the bulk of his points when the benches had been emptied.
|Jason Maxiell, PF 34 MIN | 4-10 FG | 4-6 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -1Jason Maxiell had his second straight good game, hopefully a sign that he’ll end the season strong. He would’ve shot 50 percent in this game if not for a missed open dunk in the first half that he went up for and didn’t look to completely have his feet under him. Maxiell has been a lightning rod for criticism this season, mostly because nearly everyone wanted to see more of Andre Drummond. But it’s not his fault Maxiell has been asked to play a role as a starter that he’s not really equipped to play. Like I said, he deserves a strong finish to the season as he enters free agency. He’s worked hard the last two seasons to get himself in shape and get a chance at another NBA contract.|
|Greg Monroe, C 34 MIN | 5-13 FG | 4-5 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | 0Monroe didn’t shoot well and didn’t defend well, but he was effective on the glass and he did a nice job creating shots for others. The saddest, “I miss Drummond” moment came in the second half when Will Bynum tossed up a short lob in traffic to a cutting Monroe — a play we’ve seen plenty between Bynum and Drummond. The differences between Monroe and Drummond were abundantly clear there as Monroe couldn’t get to a ball Drummond would’ve undoubtedly reached above everyone for and finished.|
|Jose Calderon, PG 35 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +5Calderon’s seven assists and no turnovers were nice, and he helped on the glass with six rebounds from the point guard spot, but he didn’t shoot well and he didn’t defend well.|
|Brandon Knight, PG 32 MIN | 9-17 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 21 PTS | -1Brandon Knight was aggressive, frequently taking defenders off the dribble. But more importantly, he was purposeful in his movements. He rarely forced his way inside, he took good shots, he finished well and he took care of the ball with only one turnover. Any game where the Pistons backcourt has just one turnover combined is an impressive performance.|
|Kyle Singler, SG 28 MIN | 3-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -4Singler shot poorly, but in what is becoming a broke record, did enough other things well to justify minutes. He played passing lanes well, picking up three steals, and he did a great job at the end of the third quarter drawing a foul on Vince Carter as Singler was just shooting a desperation heave in the final seconds. It was a boneheaded play by Carter, but Singler also deserves credit for selling it well, considering officials tend to let contact go on shots like that.|
|Charlie Villanueva, PF 14 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +6Villanueva, along with Khris Middleton, helped the Pistons erase a double-digit deficit in the second half. He also had a great look at a three that would’ve tied the game in the final seconds, but he appeared to rush the release some, so that’ll knock him from an A to an A- tonight.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 14 MIN | 2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -11Like Singler, Jerebko shot really poorly, but he wasn’t a total loss on the court because he was active in other areas, particularly rebounding. Jerebko also made an open three, something that will undoubtedly get him on the court more if he can do it consistently.|
|Khris Middleton, SF 20 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +1Remember earlier today when Dan posted about Middleton’s shot getting rave reviews, but his pro and college percentages never really matching the hype? Well, tonight Middleton had the production to match his mechanics. With Rodney Stuckey playing awful, Middleton took advantage of increased minutes and teamed with Villanueva to shoot the Pistons back into a game that looked over at one point in the second half.|
|Will Bynum, PG 16 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 4 PTS | -1Bynum had his second straight bad game. As nice as his block on an O.J. Mayo jumper was in the second half, his poor shooting and four turnovers make it impossible for me to give him anything higher.|
|Rodney Stuckey, PG 13 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | -9There’s not much to say about Stuckey’s performance. He wasn’t aggressive, he’s now 0-for-11 shooting over his last three games and he lost his rotation spot, at least for this game, to a second round rookie who has barely played this season.|
Brian Hill is in a tough situation, and it’s hard to evaluate him as a result. But tonight he made a couple of decisions that stood out — first and foremost, he benched Stuckey. Secondly, he drew up a play for the final shot that resulted in a nice open look for Villanueva. For an assistant coach stepping in on the fly, those two things are enough to give him an A for the night, even in a loss.
|Jason Maxiell, PF 37 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -8
Maxiell dunked four times, three thanks to Jose Calderon’s ability to run the pick-and-roll. If only Maxiell had stuck to that. He was 0-for-3 on jumpers outside the restricted zone.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 27 MIN | 5-8 FG | 1-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -1
In his first 12:41 of playing time, Jerebko had three shots and two assists. Per 12:41 entering the game, Jerebko averaged two more shots and one fewer assist, and the Knicks seemed to know that, overplaying him for the shot. I get Jerebko wants to score more, but he’ll do so more effectively if he’s less focused on shooting all the time. Once the Knicks adjusted to Jerebko’s willingness to pass, he had room to score. Amar’e Stouemire (22 points on 8-of-12 shooting) torched him, but I won’t blame Jerebko much for that. With Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Charlie Villanueva out injured, the Pistons didn’t have the size to defend Stoudemire. Unfortunately for Jerebko, he just got stuck guarding Stoudemire more than anyone else did.
|Jose Calderon, PG 40 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 16 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | -3
Who leads the NBA in 16-assist games? That’s right, it’s Calderon. With his fifth of the season, Calderon broke his tie with Rajon Rondo.
|Brandon Knight, PG 39 MIN | 6-17 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 17 PTS | 0
Three of Knight’s first seven shots would have been assisted. He shot 1-for-7 on them. Nine of his next nine shots would have been assisted. He shot 5-for-9 on those. (His final shot was with the Pistons down 10 with 34 seconds left, when it was fine for Knight to force the action in isolation.) Also, Knight’s five turnovers were each pretty ugly, though it’s possible Calderon was out of position on one pass from Knight that went out of bounds. In short, Knight was pretty good when working hard off the ball to get good looks and awful with the ball in his hands.
|Kyle Singler, SG 42 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -1
Singler put in work tonight, playing a season-high 42 minutes and grabbing eight rebounds, which ties for his second-most. The undersized Pistons needed both, minutes and rebounds, and Singler answered the call, but he wasn’t overly effective in any one area.
|Viacheslav Kravtsov, C 12 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -2
I can’t tell whether Kravtsov moves slowly on defense because he’s slow-footed or because he’s unsure where to go. Either way, it makes his defense poor.
|Will Bynum, PG 17 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -17
I could tell you everything Bynum did wrong, or you could go read something nice about him.
|Rodney Stuckey, PG 26 MIN | 0-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -18
When many people see Stuckey shot 0-for-5, they assume he didn’t give much effort. I don’t think that’s fair. Stuckey was trying tonight. He was just bad.
|Brian Hill, acting head coach
Hill was pretty unimaginative, playing the starters a combined 185 minutes. The only other time the Pistons’ starters played more was Detroit’s double-overtime loss to the Nets, and the starters played less in regulation than they did tonight. I’m fine with this, because part of Hill’s job in his one-game fill-in for Lawrence Frank is to maintain the status quo. Fans might not like everything – or anything – Frank does, but as long as he remains head coach, Frank must maintain clear authority. If you don’t understand that, two words: Ron Rothstein.
The Pistons were outrebounded, 48-36, and I don’t mention that above, because only injuries are to blame. But that is a big reason Detroit lost, so if grades skew high, it’s because I’m not focused on a losing rebounding battle that has no bearing on the Pistons’ actual ability to rebound.
|Jason Maxiell, PF 16 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | -11Tonight, Jason Maxiell only had one point in 16 minutes of play, while racking up four fouls. He didn’t have any turnovers, which is the only thing that gives him a passing grade.|
|Greg Monroe, C 30 MIN | 6-13 FG | 4-4 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 16 PTS | -33In 30 minutes, Monroe almost got a double-double, but had a relatively low shooting percentage for a big man and turned the ball over four times.|
|Jose Calderon, PG 28 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -30Calderon played a mediocre game, but the thing stopping him from getting a higher grade was the two assists he had. He was brought in to Detroit to get the ball to the big men, and that’s not what he did tonight. He did shoot well, however.|
|Brandon Knight, PG 36 MIN | 3-14 FG | 1-3 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | -25Brandon Knight played another horrid game, going 3-14 from the field and 1-6 from three point range. Although he had six assists, he countered that with three turnovers.|
|Kyle Singler, SG 24 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -21Singler played 23 minutes tonight, took a lot of shots and didn’t make many of them. He went 2-10 from the field and had two turnovers.|
|Charlie Villanueva, PF 25 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -19Villanueva was one of the only Pistons to not have an awful game tonight. He got a double-double and didn’t shoot too poorly. He played alright on defense, too. Nothing spectacular, but enough to make a good impression.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 18 MIN | 3-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -6Jerebko didn’t play a ton tonight, but while he was on the floor he shot below average, had two turnovers and three fouls. He won’t earn himself more playing time if he continues to play like this.|
|Khris Middleton, SF 16 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -13Tonight, Middleton showed Lawrence Frank why he doesn’t play a lot. In his 15 minutes of playing time, he shot 20% from the field and had four personal fouls.|
|Viacheslav Kravtsov, C 7 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-3 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -9Kravtsov barely saw the court tonight, but in his short stint out there he didn’t miss a shot and grabbed five rebounds. He would’ve made a bigger impact had he played more.|
|Will Bynum, PG 11 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 6 PTS | -2Bynum also didn’t play a lot tonight, but was efficient in the scoring department while playing. He did have four turnovers, however.|
|Rodney Stuckey, PG 19 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -18In 19 minutes, Rodney Stuckey made absolutely no impact. He went 0-5 from the floor and that’s about it. Not many bright spots tonight for Stuckey.|
|Kim English, SG 11 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -8Just like Rodney Stuckey, Kim English did not make much of an impact tonight. He missed all three of his shots and had two turnovers.|
|Lawrence FrankLet’s be frank (pun intended) here. He coached his team to a 114-75 loss. That’s unacceptable. He played his starters, who were obviously not making any plays, way too much and they ended up losing by 39 points. There’s no excuse for that.|
I’m no fan of tanking. But, as I wrote earlier, I am a fan of a non-playoff team like the Pistons trying really hard and losing, especially when that loss is to a team like New Orleans, who could move in front of the Pistons in the standings this season and improve Detroit’s lottery odds. Grades are below. Unfortunately, our recap generator isn’t working properly, so you’ll have to live without the graphics tonight. Box score is here.
Jason Maxiell was active, he picked up a couple of blocks and he had a big 3-point play in the fourth quarter to keep the Pistons close. Maxiell shot well, including from the perimeter, something he just hasn’t done a lot of since early on in the season. – B
Greg Monroe played about as well as anyone playing in front of his hometown crowd could want to. His scoring and rebounding were impressive, but he also was really active in the passing game, frequently finding Piston cutters with nice passes. – A
Jose Calderon ran the offense well and has 29 assists with just three turnovers in his last two games. Greivis Vasquez lit him up defensively, but Calderon did put up a fight. Vasquez hit a tough, contested runner late in the game to seal it for the Hornets. Calderon did just about everything he could do on that play and several others. Vasquez is just one of those players who excels at making weird looking shots (as anyone who watched him closely in college surely remembers). - B-
Brandon Knight has been exception in both games since returning from injury. He and Calderon seem to be quickly developing some chemistry together and Knight has confidently looked for his shot. He played good defense against Eric Gordon tonight too. – A
Kyle Singler was Kyle Singler — active, hit open jumpers and moved without the ball. He was the recipient of one of those nice Monroe dishes after a good cut towards the basket by Singler. – B-
Charlie Villanueva missed his only two shot attempts and didn’t do anything else to justify his existence on the court tonight. – F
Jonas Jerebko was active and, like Singler and Slava Kravtsov, provided a nice target for Monroe by moving without the ball. – B-
Slava Kravtsov didn’t do much, but he did find himself open for a nice cut to the basket and dunk in the first half. – D
Will Bynum wasn’t awful tonight, but he also wasn’t the dynamic presence the Pistons really needed off the bench either. He’s obviously not going to be much help defensively, but he also wasn’t very aggressive offensively. – C-
I was tempted to give Rodney Stuckey an ‘F’ simply for forcing an awful three with less than 10 seconds left and the Pistons down three. Yeah, he had the ball, yeah, time was running down, but he had much more time to get a better shot than that. But that would be unfair, considering Stuckey had an OK all-around game off the bench. – C+
Tonight was pretty much a similar weakness with Lawrence Frank getting exposed. The Pistons played tough and competitively on the road, but the Hornets seemed to make better use of halftime to make a few adjustments that helped the team win. – C
“Welcome back, young fella,” Villanueva boomed as he left the locker room. “Welcome back.”
“Thank you, sir,” Knight said before continuing his response to the media.
I’ll take a cue from Knight and show my appreciation, too.
After missing the last three games – his first-ever DNPs – Knight scored a career-high 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting, including 5-of-6 on 3-pointers, to lead the Pistons to a 96-95 win over the Wizards on Wednesday.
Knight’s performance was hardly transcendent, but this season, when every Pistons game is quickly forgotten, it might come as close as we get. With Knight sidelined, the Pistons lost by 32, 18 and 11. Facing his first return after a missed game, Knight quickly changed the Pistons’ direction with 12 points, two assists and no turnovers in the first quarter.
“Our fight just wasn’t really there,” Knight said of the three games he missed. “So, me, as one of the leaders, just wanted to come back and make sure I provided us with some fight.”
The Pistons responded like Knight hoped.
Jose Calderon’s defense tightened on John Wall, who finished with more turnovers (seven) than points (six). Kim English raced the floor to get 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions. Jason Maxiell played stifling defense, finishing with seven defensive rebounds, four blocks, a steal and a well-earned, game-best +21 plus-minus rating in 26 minutes.
All fed off Knight’s fight.
There’s room to pick apart Knight’s game – especially his four turnovers, including two on the first two possessions of the second half – but I’m just going to note those miscues and move on.
Knight played brilliantly offensively. He ran the pick-and-roll to create space, ran hard around off-ball screens and pushed up court during fastbreaks to get his points. Most of his arsenal was on display, and it was a joy to watch.
Defensively, Knight struggled,which he admitted after the game, citing his knee injury.
“I wanted to play last game,” Knight said. “So, it’s not good. There’s going to be some discomfort, just a matter of how much and how much you can play through. I always play through some discomfort, different things that you guys don’t always know about.”
I asked Knight about preparing after his first missed games, and he dismissed any significance, saying he prepared for every game as if he were playing. That’s a veteran answer from a 21-year-old.
It can be easy to forget how many situations Knight has yet to experience, but tonight, he got a new one, and that could pay off later. I can imagine Knight, relying on his experience tonight, getting injured in the playoffs a couple years from now and coming back without missing a beat.
Nearly every night, there are lessons like that for Knight to absorb.
The same can be said for Greg Monroe, the 22-year-old who had 26 points, 11 rebounds and four steals Wednesday. He stopped hesitating on his mid-range jumper, and not only did he make shots from that area, it opened the rest of his offense.
Monroe’s and Knight’s 58 combined points were the most they’ve ever scored together in a game. Of course, they had plenty of help from Calderon, who had 18 assists, including six to each Monroe and Knight. Knight was asked whether the Pistons were unstoppable when he and Monroe played so well.
“Not necessarily unstoppable, because we still almost lost,” Knight said. “So, it’s not about offense. It’s about making sure, no matter what’s going on offense, it’s about making sure we’re getting stops on the defensive end.”
Another veteran answer and also a very correct one. Trevor Ariza ended the game on a personal 8-0 run before missing a 3-pointer as time expired.
With Monroe and Knight playing well simultaneously, we glimpsed where this team was hopefully headed after last season. Those two looked great, but a one-point win over the Wizards hardly constitutes the end goal. As the Wizards shot 25-of-40 in the paint (63 percent), it became clear how fortunate the Pistons were to draft Andre Drummond, a potential rim-protecting difference maker.
Monroe and Knight are nice pieces to rebuild around, but they’re not nearly enough.
They were enough to win Wednesday, though, and that counts for something. There has been a lot of talk about whether the Pistons should start tanking, and Lawrence Frank basically admitted before the game he’d begin more lineup experimentation once the Pistons are officially eliminated from the playoff race. As a fan, that’s satisfying. But for the current players, these days must be torture. It’s important – if for no other reason than to keep morale high enough to keep working hard – they experience some success, some good feelings.
With postgame of Georgetown’s just-concluded win over Connecticut playing on the locker-room television, Monroe stopped teasing Villanueva and Drummond long enough to talk about Knight.
“He’s a big part of what we do,” Monroe said. “So ,whenever he’s on the floor, guys do feel better.”