Category → Game Review
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -14
Let’s just look at what happened when Monroe played and sat in this game:
8 minutes on court, Nuggets outscore Pistons 23-14
Yeah, that’s really bad.
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 46 MIN | 14-27 FG | 1-4 FT | 10 REB | 8 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 30 PTS | +21
Smith keeps on putting the early season woes behind him. At this rate, he’ll look like he is worth his contract by season’s end.
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 46 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +14
Singler sat just two minutes in this one. Not a great line, but he managed to stave off fatigue and move well start to finish. On the second night of a back to back. Without getting into foul trouble. This is from a guy who picks up more fouls per minute than Drummond. Excellent effort, Kyle.
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 35 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 15 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +22
Eight offensive boards on back to back nights, both in games in which the Pistons blew out a team I would have considered significantly superior to them.
When the Pistons win, Drummond usually isn’t their best player. And that was the case tonight. But credit where it’s due: both he and his team (he is still easily the best player overall this season) look to be on a roll.
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 40 MIN | 11-22 FG | 7-7 FT | 1 REB | 12 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 35 PTS | +29
Efficient scoring? Check. 35 points on 22 shots, that’ll do.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +8
Jerebko played the last 1:37 of the first half. He had no impact on the outcome of the game.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 12 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2
KCP’s defense was mediocre at best as he was late on rotations and several times forced to foul. Also, he contributed nothing on offense. His play from earlier this season probably should have earned him some more minutes, but his play in this game didn’t.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 7-15 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +7
Stuckey played well. It’s a bit sad that Jennings did a better job of stopping Lawson than Stuckey did, but really that says more about how good Jennings was in this one than it does about Stuckey. Lawson is a very good player, after all.
I can’t say I approve of all of his decisions: playing just seven players (two minutes for Jerebko doesn’t count), playing three guys over 40 minutes, continuing to start the big three and Singler over KCP…
But wow, it worked in this one. Back-to-back blowouts of superior teams. Maybe this is fool’s gold; but if this happens a couple more times, I’ll have to seriously consider the possibility that Cheeks is starting to figure out how to use this roster.
Two Things We Saw
- For this season to be very worthwhile, I think the Pistons need to snag a sixth seed. To do that in this pitiful Eastern Conference, I expect they’ll have to be over .500. So let’s be really generous and say it will probably only take about a 42-40 record. That would still require the Pistons to finish the season 21-11. I don’t think they can pull that off. But over these past two games, the probability, in my mind, has gone from not a chance to very unlikely.
- The Pistons’ big three played 11 minutes altogether tonight. I’m not convinced that plying them all such big minutes can work consistently, but it appears to have more potential than I would have been willing to concede.
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 31 MIN | 5-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | +11A solid, efficient game for Monroe in which he didn’t get burned by his counterpart. That doesn’t happen every day.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 35 MIN | 9-16 FG | 4-5 FT | 8 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | 23 PTS | +19Over his past dozen games, Smith has been shooting better than 47%. Still not great, but a huge uptick from the sub-40% level he had been shooting at for the season before this stretch. It helps when he can finish even with a defender’s finger in his eye.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 39 MIN | 6-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 16 PTS | +8Singler was the team’s worst starter tonight and he still put together an above average game.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 40 MIN | 7-12 FG | 2-8 FT | 22 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | +12Drummond continues to be a beast. Now if he could only hit some free throws…|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 39 MIN | 8-13 FG | 5-5 FT | 10 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 8 TO | 26 PTS | +21Efficient scoring, good defense, and a near triple-double? If he didn’t nearly get a quadruple-double due to turnovers, I’d be sorely tempted to give out my first ever A+.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 10 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +1Jerebko managed to not mess anything up too badly, but the Pistons were mostly at their worst with him on the floor.|
|Chauncey Billups, SG Shot Chart 9 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -5Billups is totally washed up. It’s hard to post a line this bad when your team throttles the other. Also, his defense was a primary culprit in letting the Nets almost get back into it in the 4th quarter.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 8 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +10KCP played well when he was on the floor in spite of missing a couple shots. He played some of the better defense I’ve seen from him so far and his steal and subsequent feed to Smith was huge. I’m not sure why he only played 8 minutes. But that did mean he didn’t end up doing a whole lot.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +3Remember how fans always used to wish that Stuckey would become more consistent? Well, he’s now the epitome of consistency, but he’s not really any better.|
I’ve lost all faith in Cheeks, but I’d put the blame on him if this went the other way so I guess I have to give him some credit tonight.
Maurice Cheeks foolishly changes starting lineup then bickers with Will Bynum during blowout loss to Magic
|Greg Monroe , PF 31 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -11Monroe looked particularly lethargic early – calmly missing close shots, carelessly turning the ball over and lazily defending the post. He got it together later to salvage a decent enough line, but his overall performance was pretty sour.|
|Josh Smith, SF 41 MIN | 11-19 FG | 3-9 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 25 PTS | -13Smith was mostly a bystander as the Pistons fell behind double digits in the first half. He played very hard in the second half, mostly independent of his teammates. But by then, it was too late for his quality play to make much difference.|
|Kyle Singler, SF 32 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -22Singler was helpful offensively, making 3-of-4 3-pointers. And as hoped, his length both persuaded Arron Afflalo (5-for-14) not to post up and contest Afflalo’s jumpers. As feared, though, Singler was too slow to cover the shooting guard. Afflalo got space to set up his teammates, collecting seven assists. With the Pistons rotations strained as a result, the Magic all moved the ball well, dishing 29 assists. That’s much more Maurice Cheeks’ fault than Singler’s, though. Singler handled a difficult assignment the best he could.|
|Andre Drummond, C 39 MIN | 6-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 14 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | -12Drummond was particularly aggressive on the glass early, really snatching rebounds regardless of who else was in his vicinity. Considering Drummond already leads the NBA in rebounding percentage (minimum: 400 minutes), that’s saying a lot. By the third quarter, Drummond was reduced to shaking his head while Cheeks talked during a timeout. This team will do that to you.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG 43 MIN | 5-23 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 10 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | -16Dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, shoot. Repeat. Mix in a few passes. Dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble, shoot. Repeat. Jennings’ nearly had as many shots blocked by Kyle O’Quinn (four) as the point guard made (five).|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 9 MIN | 1-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +3Jerebko got his turn in the rotation, and he didn’t do much – positive or negative – in his meaningful minutes.|
|Luigi Datome, SF 2 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +6Datome played the final 1:43 and made an uneventful 12-footer.|
|Will Bynum, PG 3 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -4Bynum had a rough few minutes to open the second quarter, and Cheeks benched him. That’s where Bynum’s night really got interesting. Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 13 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +7As a starter or reserve, Caldwell-Pope has been prone to deferring. I know he got in the game. I saw him on the court once and everything. But I was shocked to see he played 13 minutes. It seemed like much fewer.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 27 MIN | 6-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -8Stuckey showed up and got his points. That was about it.||
Cheeks made his big move before the game began, starting Singler over Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard. Predictably, it didn’t work. Whatever advantage he had in a one-on-one matchup with Afflalo, Singler harmed the team defense more. He’s just too slow to guard the shooting guard position. That’s a critical problem when the Pistons also start Smith, Monroe and Drummond – a big frontline with its own foot speed issues. The foursome just can’t cover enough ground defensive. When Singler played shooting guard with the big three tonight, the Pistons’ defensive rating was 125.5. For the season, the Magic have an offensive rating of 98.6 – 25th in the NBA. The Pistons turned one of the league’s worst offense isn’t a juggernaut.
Alternate grade: A+ (if you want the Pistons to tank)
|Greg Monroe, PF 35 MIN | 6-13 FG | 5-7 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -8
Monroe was a strong interior scoring and rebounding force against the smaller Heat. This wasn’t Monroe’s best game, but he definitely took advantage of the matchup as you’d hope he would. The Heat moved the ball well, which both fairly unfairl, made Monroe look bad defensively. Fairly: Monroe is not the most nimble on his feet as the ball swings around the court. Unfairly: Monroe played a lot of center, and when he rotated properly as the primary paint protector, his teammates did a poor job of helping the helper, leaving Monroe’s man easy baskets.
|Josh Smith, SF 38 MIN | 5-20 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 12 PTS | -6
Smith actually worked to get some close, though off-balance, shots. It’s almost as if he weren’t totally used to shooting from the interior. Soon enough, Smith drifted back into his comfort zone — the perimeter. As has been a repeated problem, Smith too often makes risky passes that, although they have a high reward, too often lead to turnovers to justify the tradeoff. But he defended LeBron well and really kicked up his defense a notch when the Pistons went on an 11-2 run late in the third quarter, also running the floor well in that stretch.
|Andre Drummond, C 24 MIN | 5-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -6
Drummond sat just two minutes into the game with two fouls, and he didn’t return the rest of the first quarter. He lasted 2:23 into the third quarter before picking up his third foul and sitting the rest of the half. Drummond finished with three fouls. He must do a better job of not fouling, but Maurice Cheeks was the biggest culprit. Why sit the team’s best player for such minor foul trouble? If he fouls out, he fouls out. The consequence would be the exact same one Cheeks imposed, anyway. When Cheeks let him play, Drummond was excellent. He padded his stats a little when the Heat let up late, but the game was not actually decided at that point.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 41 MIN | 7-15 FG | 10-12 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 26 PTS | -6
It’s games like this, when Jennings both made shots look easy and still had a cold stretch bring down his efficiency, that I wonder how he can be shooting 38 percent for the season. He’s really not that bad a shooter. Jennings was opportunistic defensively, really going hard after steals. I really liked his effort on that end, and he even got a couple blocks for his trouble.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3
Dwyane Wade absolutely worked Caldwell-Pope, who got a quick hook in both halves. He left just two minutes into the first half and five-and-a-half minutes into the second half, playing only for the final 27 seconds of the first half otherwise. Caldwell-Pope is a good perimeter defender for his age and a great perimeter defender for this Pistons team. But let’s quiet the talk of him being a lockdown defender. Still, what was the point of starting him if he was going to get pulled so easily? It’s not as if his backups shut down Wade, either. Caldwell-Pope did terribly in his limited minutes, and he’s graded only on those, but he probably should have gotten more of a chance.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 11 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +3
Jerebko’s defense was lacking, and his shot was off. But he offensively reboundeda Detroit free throw and then hit a stepback turnaround jumper late in the first half, so give him points for degree of difficulty on his one positive play.
|Kyle Singler, SF 33 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -2
Someone was likely going to have to take the grade hit and guard LeBron James. Tonight, that was Singler who got lit up by the reigning MVP. Singler didn’t do nearly enough to compensate, even slightly on the other end – though he mixed it up on the offensive glass.
|Will Bynum, PG 15 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -9
Bynum was too out of control, even by his usual standard.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 36 MIN | 8-17 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 20 PTS | +7
Stuckey didn’t draw a foul on a drive late in the first quarter. In protest, he didn’t run back on defense, allowing the Heat to both get an open 3-point attempt and the offensive rebound when they missed. In the second quarter, he missed a layup and stopped to inspect his shoes rather than get back on defense. When Stuckey bothered to play defense, he was actually pretty good for a while before easing up on that end. However, he never slacked when the ball was in his hands, which was often.
Cheeks got a technical in the second quarter, and then Smith and Monroe got technicals later in the period. Jennings and Norris Cole got double-technicals in the fourth quarter. If there’s a motivational benefit to technical fouls, it didn’t show tonight. The Pistons didn’t play harder after their technicals, only whinier. In the fourth quarter, they had more turnovers (seven) than field goals (six). This was not a team in control of its emotions, and that started with Cheeks. Also, down six with 10 seconds left, the Pistons didn’t foul. In just a two-possession game, I would have fouled, but I’m not going to make a big deal out of that. It would have been very difficult to beat the Heat, who are ramping up their intensity, regardless of any coaching decisions, but Cheeks didn’t make it any easier on his team.
Woohoo! The Pistons get a convincing win, albeit against a really bad team. I guess it was bound to happen eventually.
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 25 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +2Monroe rebounded well, particularly offensively, but he could never make anything happen on those offensive boards. And the shots he did make were not really attempts he should be going for, including a long jumper (which at least he took without hesitation) and a shot down low that he put up after about 500 head fakes.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 8-12 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | +17Smith was taking terrible, terrible, typical Josh Smith shots. But he was making them, so credit where it’s due. And he had one of his best perimeter defensive performances of the season. Also, his fast break block was sick.Funniest moment of the night: when Smith tried to be the Piston to take a technical free throw. Jennings saw him going there and sprinted to get to the line first.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 33 MIN | 5-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 17 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +19Drummond was a beast. You see his 17 boards and 2 blocks. What you don’t see are how many attempts he altered. Nor the fact that every time he didn’t crash the offensive glass, he was hustling back on defense hard. He was almost back to the paint by the time Monroe corralled an offensive board for Detroit.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 7-19 FG | 4-7 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | +22Jennings was a tale of two halves. He was brutal in the first, but hit some really big buckets in the second. I average that out to a mediocre game.The most damning part of his performance wasn’t the inefficient scoring. It was the noteworthy drop off in defense when he played as opposed to Bynum. I don’t expect strong D from Jennings, but you don’t want to be the guy who looks way worse on that end than Will.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 19 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +4Why did KCP play so few minutes? He wasn’t incredible, but he was better than 19 minutes. Not much to analyze here.|
|Tony Mitchell, PF Shot Chart 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -9Mitchell made the most of his minimal floor time.|
|Josh Harrellson, PF Shot Chart 18 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 3 PTS | -1Harrellson contributed to the Pistons domination of the glass (dropping Orlando to 0-23 when outrebounded), but apart from that, he was awful. He spent too much time near the basket (when he’s on the floor presumably to space it), he missed shots, he turned the ball over 3 times in spite of the fact that he hardly ever touched it, and he got repeatedly burned on D, forcing him to foul.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 6 MIN | 0-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | -8Jerebko was lackluster. I can’t blame him as the game was over when he entered, but that’s not how you get more minutes.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +20It is so much fun to watch Singler crash the offensive glass. He picks his spots, but makes the most of them. Other than that, it was pretty much a typical game for Kyle, but he hit his shots at a slightly better rate than normal.|
|Luigi Datome, SF 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -7Ok, I’m drawing the line here. There just wasn’t enough to analyze.|
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 15 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | +5Bynum’s stat line doesn’t look very good, but he came in and changed the tempo of the game. He got Detroit’s lead started and then it continued to balloon after he sat (is that a plus or a minus for him?). Mostly, I was really impressed by his defense, forcing Nelson into a 24 second violation and then blocking a layup after it looked like Nelson had everyone beat.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 4-9 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +16Typical numbers, typical game from Stuckey. It was hilarious to hear the commentator talking about the right corner being Stuckey’s sweet spot after he hit a shot from there. “He’s now 7-12 from there on the season”. Really, he shoots from there once every four games and that’s his spot?|
I’m not quite sure what was up with Cheeks. He was in the stands, not on the bench. I don’t know if he showed up late or just decided to try deferring responsibility to his assistants, but it worked. Clearly, less Cheeks, is Mo. Let’s hope he continues to take himself out of the picture moving forward.
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 29 MIN | 9-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | -1Considering the fourth-quarter struggles that have followed the Pistons in recent weeks, months, well, all year, Monroe has gotten stuck in it as well. After being benched in the fourth quarter of the loss in Milwaukee, Monroe played seven minutes in the fourth tonight. He defended admirably, scored seven points (on 3-3 FG), and grabbed two rebounds. He was easily the most productive big man tonight, and he was the only guy with a positive +/- in the final quarter. Monroe went 2-for-2 on rhythm jumpers tonight, which is a good sign.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 41 MIN | 10-24 FG | 5-7 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 25 PTS | -9I mean, if you squint your eyes and look at the basic stat line — 25-8-2-2 — it’s pretty impressive. Problem is it took Smith 24 attempts (but only two 3s) to score that 25 points; not so good. His scoring did keep the Pistons afloat early, though. He’s been farrr worse than he was tonight, but his defense wasn’t fun against Dirk Nowitzki, either. Then again, so was everyone else’s, so.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 26 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -12This was probably the worst game Drummond has played in awhile. He wasn’t really active as a cutter/roller like he normally is, and it felt like he just floated around. He looked attentive, but not as much as normal. His defense wasn’t particularly good. Perhaps most surprising was how Samuel Dalembert, Dirk and Marion kept him off the boards. He also got himself benched twice, but we’ll get to that in Cheeks’ section.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 38 MIN | 10-18 FG | 4-8 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 26 PTS | +2Just like Smith, Jennings’ numbers look a heckuva lot better than how he actually played on the court. Jose Calderon scorched him, shooting 7 of 8 from the field, which is a lot of shots for the sometimes shy Calderon. Jennings did score 12 points in the Pistons’ big third quarter, and he’s appeared to have found a rhythm. Still, that shot selection is pretty terrible, and he had six of the Pistons’ 12 turnovers. He looks like he’s playing point guard to accumulate assists, not to run an offense and team.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 30 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -9Unlike other games, Caldwell-Pope made sure people were aware that he was on the court tonight. He did most of his damage in the first half, but he hit a nice 3-pointer in the first quarter, and had four steals, which led to a number of fast breaks where he finished strong with a pair of layups and a dunk. He defended well, too. He forced the ball out of Dirk’s hands at the end of the first quarter, and was big in forcing Monta Ellis into eight turnovers.|
|Tony Mitchell, PF Shot Chart 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2He grew up in Dallas, so it was cool that Cheeks got him into the game.|
|Josh Harrellson, PF Shot Chart 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +1He wasn’t good or bad. Harrellson does some things very well — eat up space, make open 3-pointers among them — but he’s a very limited player. Being able to match up with guys like DaJuan Blair tonight give him a chance defensively, but against more athletic guys he doesn’t stand a chance on defense.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 32 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -13Someone has obviously told Singler to start shooting more. He took 11 shots tonight, and has taken 10 and seven in recent games. It’s not a bad thing for him to look for his shot, but in the Pistons early-fourth collapse, he was involved in three of the first five plays:Singler, miss
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 31 MIN | 3-11 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -11Stuckey shot poorly, but I think he was pretty good once the Pistons regained consciousness in the fourth quarter. He got to the line when he wanted, he did other things like rebound and facilitate. His defense wasn’t horrible, either. Also still appears wants to get paid (or traded at this point?).|
It’s easy to pile on Cheeks, but he had his guys ready tonight — for three quarters, again. I’m not sure why he’s discussing starting lineup changes. Just pick a group to start the fourth quarter, that’s the problem. I’m not sure if there’s a correlation between Cheeks’ shorter rotations and playing good teams, but he only went eight-deep tonight, and Stuckey was your backup point tonight. As for the Drummond thing, Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News tweeted: Cheeks on pulling Drummond: “Just about a play. He went right back in. It’s a learning experience to do what we do coming out a timeout.” So, it sounds like Drummond strayed from the play call coming out of the half? He only lasted 11 seconds before being benched. Goodwill also reported that Drummond chose not to speak after the game, so maybe he was frustrated? Who knows, but either way, it appears that Cheeks has given every meaningful Pistons player a mini-benching at some point this season. With how bad they’ve played, I can’t really say it’s a bad decision — especially considering Drummond’s play was so blah before. His second benching came after he was nowhere to be found on an Ellis’ drive followed by a lazy seal and fumbled entry pass. In all, Drummond saw the floor for 3:13 in that third quarter. But, with all of that said, it’s worth noting that after discussing Monroe’s lack of shots recently, Cheeks went to Monroe on the first three possessions of the game, resulting in an easy six points.
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 25 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 8 PTS | +7Monroe played a solid game. But he never felt like a difference maker in this one.8 and 11 in 25 minutes and that’s all Monroe gets too play. The 5 TOs suck and his defense wasn’t exactly inspire, but consider Monroe marginalized.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 36 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-1 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +613 and 5 in 36 minutes. For better (at least he played pretty well this game) or for worse (still hugely productive), consider Smith emphasized.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 39 MIN | 9-17 FG | 3-6 FT | 20 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | +11Andre Drummond, C Drummond was awesome. He built up an almost insurmountable lead.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 37 MIN | 7-20 FG | 12-14 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 28 PTS | +1Jennings got to the line a lot and only turned the ball over once. And he didn’t get burned on D either (although that’s probably largely because he was defending Brian Roberts who doesn’t really have the potential to burn a team. Still, this was nearly a perfect Jennings game and it was wasted|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 41 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -1KCP played well on offense, but he is there for his defense, and he was the primary culprit in letting Morrow go off in the 4th and steal the game. Unacceptable.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 24 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -15Singler was useless on both sides of the floor. He earned every bit of his -15.|
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 11 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -3Bynum played well but wasnt on the court enoguh to make a difference|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 27 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -16See Kyle Singler.|
When you lose a double digit lead in the final 9 minutes, there was probably some bad coaching. I don’t buy it, but it really does look like a tank job.
Every game is critically important for the Pistons in their quest to be one of the East’s default playoff teams this season. Tonight’s against Milwaukee, though, was especially winnable. The team is fading in the standings, its top acquisitions are struggling and the team has a penchant for blowing leads.
Tonight was the chance to start strong in a stretch of six straight winnable games against one of the league’s worst teams, the Bucks. Brandon Jennings was returning to his former home arena, the Pistons are a better road team than home team and … did I mention the Bucks are terrible? Maurice Cheeks even shortened his rotation to try to ensure the Pistons got this game, and you know how often Cheeks likes to make adjustments, amiright?
Well, things didn’t play out correctly. The Pistons blew another double-digit second half lead, Jennings ran out of steam late, Josh Smith continued to struggle and the current eight seed in the East is now Charlotte. So the Pistons’ ineptness could allow the Bobcats to sneak into the playoffs and still get a lottery pick out of it.
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 29 MIN | 7-11 FG | 4-6 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | +13Dan Feldman suggested last week (to a mixed reaction from the peanut gallery) (Updated: Let the record reflect that ‘peanut gallery’ links to a Vince Ellis tweet as a joke. Also, let the record reflect that Vince Ellis is the only beat writer I read) that Maurice Cheeks’ plan to get Josh Smith more comfortable would amount to Cheeks marginalizing either Monroe or Andre Drummond. Tonight, Monroe scored efficiently, hitting 7-for-11 of his shots, rebounded well and passed well. Smith shot inefficeintly, rebounded poorly and turned it over more than Monroe. Smith played 34 minutes, Monroe played 29. Consider yourself marginalized, Mr. Monroe.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 34 MIN | 2-10 FG | 4-8 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +8Before I pile on Smith, I would like to praise how much I enjoyed his passing in this game. Between Monroe and Smith, the Pistons have two of the best frontcourt passers in the league. Monroe had an entry pass to Drummond in the third quarter that led to a layup that was beautiful — it was a difficult angled bounce pass that Smith kept just low enough and had just the right spin on to get past defenders and perfectly lead Drummond to the hoop.But seriously, Smith was bad tonight. He missed two late free throws that would’ve cut the Bucks’ lead to one, he had a late turnover when the Pistons could’ve tied and he was one of the many defenders who had nothing for Caron Butler tonight.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 33 MIN | 4-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -2Drummond was his normal efficient self. Replay helped eliminate an incorrect goaltend call against him on a Brandon Knight shot, and officials missing a pretty obvious goaltend call against him on another Knight shot in the third credited him for a block he probably didn’t deserve. The lesson here is it is hilarious watching Brandon Knight get his weak shots blocked. Also, a predictable refrain for Drummond — he looked gassed in the fourth quarter. But hey, look at that free throw shooting!|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 37 MIN | 11-23 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 30 PTS | +4Jennings shot beautifully for most of this game in front of his former hometown crowd, but ran out of steam late. He missed all four shots he took in the fourth quarter. He got lost defensively on a couple of late shots by Milwaukee’s guards. But overall, Jennings’ scoring early was a big reason the Pistons built a double-digit lead.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 44 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +5Caldwell-Pope had a nice all-around game, but every wing player who stepped on the court is responsible for Caron Butler playing like it was 2006 tonight, so his grade is going to suffer for that.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 19 MIN | 0-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -20Singler shot poorly, which he does occasionally. The difference is he usually helps out in other areas even if his shot isn’t falling. Tonight, he didn’t do anything of value in the game.|
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 11 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -7Bynum played very few minutes and came up with a couple of steals, but also turned it over twice in 11 minutes. Not great.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 33 MIN | 8-16 FG | 7-8 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 23 PTS | -16The Rodney Stuckey Would Like Another Multi-Year Contract/Make Lawrence Frank Look Like An Idiot Redemption Tour continues with another great performance. Honestly, as critical as I’ve been of Stuckey at times, I’d love him on any team I root for … provided it is a one-year contract.|
|Charlie Villanueva, PF Shot Chart DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | Charlie Villanueva tweeted Feldman tonight!|
Maurice Cheeks really wanted to win this game tonight. Boy, did he want to win this. He shortened his rotation to eight guys (and really, seven guys because Bynum didn’t play all that much). The Pistons still had a similar result, though. They build a lead with good shooting early. They didn’t get the lead as big as it should’ve been because their hot shooting was combined with uninterested defense that always allowed the Bucks to be a quick run from getting back in it. Then, when the Bucks tightened their defense, the Pistons started missing shots and had no ability to make adjustments (I think they might not make adjustments well because I’m fairly convinced that the don’t have any plays that they know how to run). The offense became, “let a guy dribble around for a while and shoot a contested mid-range shot,” which resulted in a 58.7 (!) (seriously, 58.7!) offensive rating in the fourth quarter. Then, in the postgame interview, Cheeks said “50-50 balls” about 35 times in three minutes.So, to recap, the Pistons lost tonight because they didn’t get to enough 50-50 balls. And that’s the only reason they lost. Also, the game is 48 minutes long, which Cheeks was also kind enough to remind everyone.
Mailbag Mailbag Mailbag
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 1-3 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | -13
Blake Griffin (25 points, five rebounds, five assists and a steal) absolutely dominated this matchup on both sides of the floor. Griffin is vastly superior to Monroe athletically, but – even though this disparity was as big as it gets – Monroe is usually at an athletic disadvantage. He typically finds ways to compensate. Today, he was completely overwhelmed.
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 42 MIN | 12-22 FG | 0-3 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 24 PTS | +3
The Pistons made a point of posting up Smith on Matt Barnes to start their offense, and it usually worked. Smith shot, passed and Kobe assisted well from that position. In other circumstances, he was a little more out of control, but still generally effective.
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 34 MIN | 5-6 FG | 5-8 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -4
Drummond and DeAndre Jordan are similar players in that both excel because they’re physically elite. But Jordan (16 points on 11 shots, 21 rebounds and four blocks) is clearly further along. He repeatedly got better position than Drummond today. That’s OK, because Drummond is five years younger, and he’ll get there. Drummond more than played well enough to show why everyone believes in him. There’s little shame in not being as good as Jordan, who has really elevated his game to the next level this season. I look forward to Drummond eventually taking that step.
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 0-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +2
Jennings forced – and missed – just enough shots to remind you he was there, but he was mostly invisible. On defense, though, that’s progress.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +5
Caldwell-Pope had a couple nice moments (a steal and self-started transition opportunity, a confident jumper) and a couple lousy ones (fouling J.J. Redick twice on made 3-pointers). Two of Caldwell-Pope’s steals came immediately after the Clippers got the ball, so today didn’t spotlight his lockdown defense as much as how his athleticism helps in chaos. Overall, the good outweighed the bad. There just wasn’t much of either.
|Josh Harrellson, PF Shot Chart 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -2
Harrellson made a 3-pointer, but his lack of defensive mobility limits him.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1
Jerebko came in to play a little defense at the end of the first half. He fouled Blake Griffin.
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 29 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -14
Singler was asked to do a lot, and he did some of it. He even ran the point late in the game, which is interesting, and based on how Cheeks has managed this team recently, quite possibly something the Pistons had never practiced before.
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 17 MIN | 5-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -14
Bynum was aggressive when the Pistons didn’t have much else going, providing the spark they needed. They just didn’t have much else going too often today.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 11-20 FG | 6-7 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 29 PTS | -7
Stuckey is more focused on scoring than he’s ever been. As long as he does it this efficiently, I’ll gladly take it. He’s made real strides with his mid-range game.
The Pistons’ defense is horrendous, and the issues are systematic. Detroit’s wings sag inside to protect the paint, leaving closing out on open 3-point shooters nearly impossible. When the opponent penetrates or moves the ball – or, god forbid, both – the Pistons are too frequently out of position to rotate multiple times. It’s as if their defensive gameplan doesn’t account for more than the initial adjustment. Today put both issues on prime display, at least through three quarters. The Clippers had 94 points before losing focus in the fourth quarter. Let’s not overreact to a comeback that got the Pistons no closer than nine. The Pistons have survived at times defensive, because they’re aggressive. Detroit starts five players who, when targeting them, get steals at high rates for their positions. The Pistons still have some defensive liabilities mixed with their good defenders, and that makes creating quality defensive lineups difficult. But Detroit’s defense is fundamentally unsound, and that’s on Cheeks. Patrick and I spent part of the fourth quarter discussing whether the Pistons could/would fire Cheeks this season. As Patrick pointed out, the Pistons don’t have a logical replacement on the staff – their own failing, but an issue nonetheless. Coach Sheed sounds great, but he’s probably not ready. Anybody want to force out Cheeks for Henry Bibby? I didn’t think so. The schedule softens in the next month, and I could see the Pistons at .500 15 games from now. That wouldn’t make Cheeks suddenly a good coach, but that probably pushes him past the point of no return – for the rest of this season, at least.
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 31 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-5 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | 0Monroe played a solid game. But he never felt like a difference maker in this one.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 35 MIN | 8-17 FG | 6-10 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 22 PTS | -5Smith was the tale of two halves. He was 0-6 for 2 points in the first as the Pistons looked like they were probably going to let another opportunity slip away. Then he came roaring back in the second with 20 points on 8-11 shooting. It was still terrible shot selection, but he was knocking them down.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 27 MIN | 5-6 FG | 0-2 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -2Drummond was once again crashing the boards like a monster and scoring very efficiently. And the fourth foul he picked up was totally bogus. But in spite of the fact that Cheeks (presumably) knew that he wouldn’t trot Dre out down the stretch, he still pulled Drummond early–again. I gotta mark Andre down, though, for failing to register a single block or steal all game.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 32 MIN | 4-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -6Jennings missed a lot of shots and was useless on Wall, but he still got 14 points on 13 shots (below average, but not bad) and took back the ball for every time he gave it away. If Wall hadn’t dropped 34, I’d call it a good performance.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 41 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +10KCP, what to do with you? You shut down Beal. He was worse than useless for the Wiz. But offensively, you were a liability as well. I guess I would expect a bigger game from Beal than from Caldwell-Pope, so the fact that they were both dreadful is a net plus.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 22 MIN | 5-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +21Singler didn’t get much burn in the second half, so, by game’s end, he was easy to forget. But he was the only Pistons really stepping up in the first half. And his incredible hustle and good shooting in that period meant there was a relatively small hole for Smith, Stuckey, and Drummond to dig out of in the second.|
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +3Bynum didn’t hugely move the needle in either direction. But I love watching him play with Drummond. His oop off the backboard was awesome.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 31 MIN | 8-15 FG | 4-5 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | +9Stuckey’s scoring has been better this season than any prior year. But the rest of his contributions have tailed off. This game was exemplary of those facts. But in his current role as the scoring combo guard off the bench, what Stuckey is giving the Pistons is exactly what they need from him.|
Cheeks is playing the rotations like he said he would. All three of Detroit’s bigs start, but once one of Monroe/Drummond leaves the game, they just sub in and out for each other. That’s probably better than his early season rotations, but still leaves something to be desired.
What really leaves something to be desired is his perplexing tendency to pull really anyone, but especially Drummond when they are barely in foul trouble. Let ‘em play Cheeks, especially Dre who won’t be closing out most contests anyway.