Category → Game Review
Detroit Pistons blow 20-point lead then bench Andre Drummond just to ensure Charlotte Bobcats hold on for win
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 35 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 13 PTS | -9Unlike Josh Smith, Monroe continues having issues dealing with lack of space inside, a downside of Detroit’s jumbo lineup. Still, he can use a nice spin move to get a good look in the paint at times. Monroe’s defense, ranging from lazy to ineffective, in the fourth quarter was instrumental in the Pistons blowing their 20-point lead. He’s never been a great defender, but he’s a good rebounder, so why was he not attempting to block out and allowing key Charlotte putbacks?|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 41 MIN | 8-20 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 18 PTS | -15-for 6 inside the restricted area, 3-for-14 outside it. Sight. Smith makes just enough jumpers to convince himself they’re good looks. He made his first shot tonight, an open long 2. On his second shot, he airballed a contested long 2. At least Smith was really hustling on defense, swarming all over the court to make plays. He wasn’t quite as strong locking up his man, tough.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 34 MIN | 7-13 FG | 0-2 FT | 15 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 5 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -21Drummond got more post-ups than usual, and they yielded mixed results. But I love Drummond becoming more involved in the offense, and I’ll happily ride out the growing pains. Drummond is so big big and nimble, he can get point-blank looks over nearby defenders who barely bother him. He just needs to get more comfortable with his footwork and finishing, but the early signs of dominance are there. In the meantime, he’s still consistently contributing offensively by dominating the offensive glass. Drummond also used his size to his benefit defensively tonight. He held Al Jefferson to 4-of-14 shooting while guarding the Charlotte big man, including blocking three of Jefferson’s shots, but more on that later.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 37 MIN | 10-20 FG | 3-5 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 26 PTS | -10Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. That’s Kemba Walker repeatedly blowing by Jennings. Jennings had one great defensive play, a backcourt steal and layup, on Walker. Otherwise, Walker (34 points on 17 shots) abused him. Jennings scored well, did an OK job of setting up his teammates and protected the ball excellently. But his defense stunk.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 22 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -7It’s not totally Caldwell-Pope’s fault his teammates ignored him for most of the game, but because he can’t do more than spot up, he’ll rarely make huge contributions. Though Caldwell-Pope’s defensive effort was high per usual, Gerald Henderson gave him fits. Even on a good defensive play, getting a steal, Caldwell-Pope’s limited skill set hurt him right after. Bringing the ball upcourt through merely light traffic, he was stripped.|
|Josh Harrellson, PF Shot Chart 18 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +11Harrellson missed three point-blank attempts on one possession, and then he caught fire, hitting five straight jumpers. He made an on open mid-range shot and then built from there, knocking down a couple 3s and semi-guarded shots. For a while, The Palace had Harrellson fever. He showed the diversity of his offensive game, driving and dropping for a Monroe dunk and cutting hard off the ball, though he dropped the pass. Defensively, got pushed too deep under the basket a couple times, preventing him from contesting drivers. But he ran the court hard to block a transition layup and had decent results stepping out to defend the pick-and-roll.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 26 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -7Singler made the Pistons’ ball movement pay off, hitting 2-of-3 3-pointers. Henderson gave him trouble, too, though.|
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 13 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -3Bismack Biyombo literally blocked most of Bynum’s shots. The Pistons point guard just didn’t seem to have enough lift tonight. Even his passes lacked lift. Bynum’s lob to Drummond wasn’t high enough, so Drummond had to lay in the ball rather than dunk it.|
|Chauncey Billups, SG Shot Chart 13 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 3 PTS | -3Billups is a smart player. I know that. But he didn’t look it tonight, or at least he didn’t appear to realize his limitations. He hit a 3-pointer with a hand in his face, and then he forced a long 3-pointer while guarded and airballed it. He had nice drive and dish to Bynum for a corner 3-pointer, and then he tried to drive by Ramon Sessions, who was closely guarding him, and had ball stolen. The Pistons waste too many possessions trying to push their luck. I can’t be surprised when Jennings and Smith do it. Billups should know better.|
|Maurice Cheeks Lawrence Frank
Al Jefferson made three straight Charlotte shots midway through the fourth quarter, the first two over Drummond and the third over Smith. On the next Bobcats possession, Drummond, as he’d done most of the night, kept Jefferson from getting too deep. Jennings doubled anyway, and Jefferson kicked to Walker, who made a 3-pointer that put Detroit down 103-99 and capped a 9-0 Charlotte run. Cheeks Frank pulled Drummond after that sequence, even though, as noted above, Drummond had done an awesome job on Jefferson in aggregate. With Drummond on the bench, Jefferson abused Monroe on the next two possessions and then hit a ridiculous jumper over Smith on the third post-timeout possession, putting Detroit down 110-102. The final shot was unguardable, but Drummond would have certainly fared better than Monroe on the previous two. I don’t care about free throws. Drummond is the Pistons’ best player, and he was dominating the game’s most-pivotal matchup at that point. Detroit needs to ride him in that situation. There’s no excuse for Cheeks Frank to keep Drummond on the bench. I thought this problem ended after last season.
|Greg Monroe, PF 34 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-5 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | +10
If Monroe had a jumper he trusted, he would have dominated this game (though he probably would have been guarded differently). The Celtics backed off, daring him to shoot even from short-mid-range. He refused, taking just one shot outside six feet. Boston’s defensive plan made it much harder for Monroe to get good looks inside, but he still used aggressive moves to get a few. Defensively, Monroe was strong. He was slow on some rotations, but he moved well enough that the Pistons could switch frequently on pick-and-rolls. He also effectively defended bigs physically, even if that led to a few fouls.
|Josh Smith, SF 33 MIN | 8-18 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | -8
Does any other player miss more open shots? Opponents give him a lot of open jumpers, and he rarely hesitates to take them – and he misses most of them. Smith shot 4-for-4 in the restricted area and 4-for-14 everywhere else, though he hit a couple late long 2s that helped down stretch (and will likely further skew his perception of a good shot). Since getting inside against the Trail Blazers, Smith has wandered outside more often in these last two games. I hope that trend ends soon. Smith defended well on the ball, but his off-ball defense was more adventurous. Smith roamed and pressured passing lanes, but that also left his man open on the perimeter and took Smith out of rebounding position. On the plus side, Smith handled the ball a lot and had no turnovers.
|Andre Drummond, C 38 MIN | 7-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 16 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +14
Tim and I agree on most basketball issues, but one area where we don’t see eye-to-eye is how to best use Drummond defensively. Though Drummond has had flashes of defending the perimeter well, I don’t think that’s sustainable. Tim does, believing Drummond should handle that role in Detroit’s big lineups rather than Smith. Score one in my favor tonight. Drummond was often pulled outside the paint defensively, and he was largely lost. When protecting the paint, he did an excellent job, though. He also absolutely destroyed the glass on both ends. Drummond might be the NBA’s best rebounder.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 40 MIN | 9-21 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 14 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 28 PTS | +12
Jennings is not afraid to shoot. That’s for certain. He pulled up for jumpers Sidney Deane would be ashamed to take. But Jennings made more than his fair share tonight, including 5-of-8 3-pointers. Avery Bradley is no defensive slouch, either. Jennings was just an offensive force tonight, clearing the bar he raised for himself by dominating the ball throughout many of Detroit’s possessions. Not all Jennings’ dribbling went toward finding himself shots, and he did a good job of getting his teammates good looks, too. The timing of Jennings’ breakthrough game couldn’t have been better. He’s underwhelmed this season, and his detractors wouldn’t have had to look past Wednesday night to see what could have been (Brandon Knight had 36 points, three assist and nine rebounds*) and what should have been (Trey Burke had 30 points, eight assists, seven rebounds).** But Jennings more than held his own in a mythical matchup that exists only in the mind of Pistons fans, and he wasn’t so bad in a real-life matchup with the Celtics, either.
*And eight turnovers. Some things never change.
**For the record, I would have drafted Burke and still completed the sign-and-trade for Jennings.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 27 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -1
Caldwell-Pope ran the floor hard to get good offensive looks, and he made a majority of his shots for the first time in two weeks. Caldwell-Pope did not get many opportunities defensively. Jordan Crawford took many awful shots before any defender could have an impact, positive or negative. When given a chance in the halfcourt, Caldwell-Pope fell short of his usual high defensive standards, but he anticipated passes to make a couple nice steals.
|Josh Harrellson, PF 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -7
Harrellson tried to be active, but sometimes he was half a beat slow to react. He still made a few quietly helpful plays, but he wasn’t getting those deflections/tips/etc. as often as usual.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 5 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +4
Jerebko showed good energy on defense, and he converted an and-1 on a strong cut along the baseline. He looked a little too hard for his 3-pointer, missing both his attempts from beyond the arc in just five minutes.
|Kyle Singler, SF 25 MIN | 3-8 FG | 4-5 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -6
Singler made a comical blunder when he jumped straight up and came back down with the ball at the end of the first quarter. It became less funny when the Celtics threw an inbound with 0.2 seconds left, and Jared Sullinger tipped in the ball. Singler was poor as a spot-up shooter, making just 1-of-5 3-pointers, but he found moderate success as a cutter and running the break.
|Will Bynum, PG 5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -12
Bynum had more turnovers than field goals and assists combined. The offense just lacked flow when he played, though he played all five his minutes with a motley lineup. He made up for some of his point-guard issues with a steal and breakaway layup.
|Chauncey Billups, SG 19 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -1
Billups looked resigned to the effects of his aging. All his shots were 3-pointers, and after initially seizing point-guard duties from Jennings after entering for Caldwell-Pope midway through the first quarter, Billups drifted into a complementary role.
The Celtics scored 42 first-quarter points on their way to building a 21-point lead. Their good ball movement and player movement left the Pistons frequently out of position to contest shots. But Detroit adjusted, and it became clear players gained a better understanding of their defensive assignments. However, Cheeks’ talk with Smith, what appeared as if it could be a pivotal moment in the season, has already stopped resonating.
Josh Smith hitting higher gear as Pistons compete with NBA elite, beating Pacers after overtime loss to Portland
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 39 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-5 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +8
Monroe was huge on the glass for the Pistons, who outrebounded Indiana, 55-40. And his post game was solid. But Monroe got frustrated in the fourth quarter, not getting a foul call when his shot was blocked then committing an offensive foul on the next possession. I don’t know whether Monroe let that linger, but Luis Scola was abusing him around that time. Maybe it was just Monroe’s typical lackluster defense. The nadir was Monroe letting Scola easily offensively rebound a free throw and get a putback.
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 37 MIN | 13-29 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 30 PTS | -2
Picking up where he left off against the Trail Blazers last night, Smith really looked for his own shot. His 29 attempts were the most by a Piston since Richard Hamilton in 2009. Unfortunately, as tonight’s game progressed, the quality of Smith’s attempts dropped considerably from Sunday against the Trail Blazers. Though early third quarter, Smith was 11-of-19, including 5-of-7 within eight feet. After that, he shot 2-for-10 overall. At least Smith took a lot more good shot inside, by volume, than usual. Inside shots from Smith are preferable to most other attempts Detroit generates in its halfcourt offense. So, comparing Smith’s good shots to his bad shot is meaningful, but so is comparing Smith’s good shots to all the Pistons’ shots. And it wasn’t always easy for Smith to get looks near the basket. When guarding Smith outside the paint, Indiana’s power forwards backed off. Early, Smith didn’t accommodate with a lot of jumpers in those situations, but the strategy made it harder for him to drive to the rim. Still, Smith had at least some success penetrating anyway. That speaks to his skill scoring nearing the basket. Smith did a good job on Paul George (4-for-14), but the Pistons’ team defense was the biggest key to slowing the Pacers star. At one point, it appeared Smith would contribute more. He was into this game – getting inside, picking up a technical foul, talking to fans. The way he finished was certainly underwhelming given the expectations he set, but overall, Smith was very good.
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 21 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-6 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | 0
Drummond was a monster on the offensive glass, getting a few putbacks that only he could make look easy. He mostly played well defensively, but he got lost a couple times. Due to foul trouble, Drummond just didn’t play much tonight, but he still found time to confirm his status as a dreadful free-throw shooter.
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 37 MIN | 4-13 FG | 8-9 FT | 3 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +2
With fewer than four minutes remaining, Jennings dribbled down the shot clock while then made a pull-up 3-pointer. It was a dumb play, but it worked. The rest of Jennings’ late play was equally dumb, but it didn’t work. Unlike many fans, I don’t see a need to replace him with Chauncey Billups in the fourth quarter. When both are just playing their games, Jennings is much better than Billups now. But if Jennings remains intent on breaking his typical habits to play hero ball, he’s going to make what should be a useless plan necessary. At least he made his free throws down the stretch to preserve the win. Earlier in the game, Jennings gave a quality performance, setting up his teammates while protecting the ball, though seems to get impatient when the offense goes away from him for too long.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 36 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +6
Whether it was covering Lance Stephenson or fighting through the screens of Indiana’s bigs, tonight showed why Caldwell-Pope must become stronger. That shouldn’t be a big surprise for the rookie, who probably just needs time to fill out. Still, Caldwell-Pope used his energy to defend well, anyway. In particular, drifting off his man who had the ball to steal a pass stood out as a positive play. Caldwell-Pope continues to try, and struggle with, his mid-range game.
|Josh Harrellson, PF Shot Chart 16 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +4
Due to foul trouble, Harrellson was pressed into season-high playing time, and he rose to the occasion. At times, Harrellson can disappear offensively, but he shot with confidence tonight, including making 1-of-2 3-pointers. He also attacked the glass on both ends. Defensively, Harrellson’s success depended on the matchup. David West isolated Harrellson inside and scored a high percentage on him, and Luis Scola found success by pulling Harrellson outside. Harrellson was more effective against the more-powerful, but less-crafty, Roy Hibbert, and Harrellson blocked Hibbert as a help defender. An ability to handle only certain matchups is probably what limits Harrellson’s minutes, but he’d be capable of playing a few more most nights.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 1 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +7
Jerebko knocked down a wide open corner 3-pointer at first-half buzzer, and to do so, he did something he sometimes struggles with: Making sure his feet are behind the arc. Jennings drove in the final seconds of the second quarter and missed. Under most circumstances, Jerebko should either crash for the offensive rebound or rotate to the center of the court to prevent an Indiana fastbreak. But with mere seconds remaining, he didn’t have time to accomplish either of those. So, he wisely stayed home, and Jennings rebounded his own miss then rewarded Jerebko with a kick-out pass.
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 26 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +3
Singler is proving surprising adept as an interior defender, whether he’s camped out in the paint to defend the rim or coming down from the perimeter to help on a post player. Singler was active on the glass, which isn’t exactly his game and partially explained his foul rate, but he was key in the Pistons winning the rebound battle so convincingly.
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 11 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +3
Bynum, playing for the first time since Nov. 27 and just third time since Nov. 15, showed his rust but looked healthy. He got to the rim with relative ease, but was a little sloppy once he penetrated.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 16 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -6
Stuckey made a wide-open short jumper but missed everything else. He made a couple lazy passes, and aside from minimally helping on George, Stuckey didn’t do much else.
Cheeks had a successful plan for neutralizing Paul George, throwing a number of defenders at him and switching on many screens. Smith, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Singler and Stuckey all had turns on George as the Pistons have a bevy of long players capable of covering George. Cheeks has expressed his preference for teaching between games rather than during games, and I think there’s merit to that. But Jennings clearly didn’t learn anything about not playing hero ball after Sunday’s loss to Portland. Within this game, Cheeks erred in his handling of Drummond. Drummond played just 3:43 in the first half while picking up three fouls. He finished with four fouls. Though the Pistons played well in the first half without Drummond, it seems likely they would have played even better with him. The NBA’s foul limit does enough to punish the Pistons if Drummond fouls out. There’s no need for Cheeks to preemptively punish the team. Also, the Pistons still seemed confused defensively, especially before they set. Teams attack defenses before they set for a reason, but Detroit seems particularly scrambled when identifying whom to guard.
|Greg Monroe, PF 39 MIN | 7-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 17 PTS | -14
Monroe ran the court well to get good looks before the defense set, and that obviously improved his offensive efficiency. Against a set defense, Monroe wasn’t nearly as productive. Monroe struggled defending Aldridge, too. That undermined an overall positive offensive game.
|Josh Smith, SF 46 MIN | 13-17 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 31 PTS | 0
It’s amazing how good Smith can be when he’s not wasting his talent shooting jumpers. Smith repeatedly posted up Nicolas Batum with tremendous success. Then, Smith repeatedly posted up Wesley Matthews with good pretty high success. Smith had a little trouble defending Batum on the perimeter, but when defending LaMarcus Aldridge, Smith helped Detroit’s cause. Aldridge didn’t exactly struggle, but for a fringe MVP candidate, he was held somewhat in check with Smith on him.
|Andre Drummond, C 44 MIN | 6-15 FG | 1-5 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +7
Couple awesome lob finishes, a few steals and blocks. No big deal from the Eastern Conference’s best center. Really. Despite an impressive stat line, this was a relatively underwhelming game from Drummond. It’s getting tough to assess him without weighing giant expectations against him.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 45 MIN | 6-16 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 10 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -7
Jennings did a good job using his dribble to create space, including an awesome step-back 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring in overtime. He’s a good ball-handler. What he did with that space was more hit than miss, but the split was definitely influenced by whether he could go left or right. The left-hander still has issues with his right hand. Jennings also played his best defense in some time, though that’s a relative accomplishment. He didn’t necessarily harass Damian Lillard or Portland’s other guards, but Jennings made a real effort to stick near them. Sometimes, just being in the vicinity can be enough to cause a miss.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 21 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-3 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +14
Caldwell-Pope was testing his in-between game, running off picks and taking mid-range jumpers. It didn’t exactly inspire confidence. He’s probably better off improving his spot-ups before diversifying.
|Josh Harrellson, PF 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -4
Harrellson was a little too slow to defend the range of Aldridge or the athleticism of Thomas Robinson. Harrellson did break up a lob attempt though when he didn’t have to cover much ground.
|Kyle Singler, SF 14 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -10
Singler kept drifting toward the interior defensively — I’m not sure how much of that was by design — and he doesn’t have the physical strength to play down there. That meant several fouls. Singler took an effective backseat role in an offense that was humming most of the game.
|Chauncey Billups, SG 17 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +16
Billups had an extremely positive effect on the Pistons’ offense, keeping the ball moving. Defensively, he made no noticeable impact, which I’ll take 10 times out of 10 from him.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 37 MIN | 7-18 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -12
Stuckey didn’t shoot particularly well, but he had some tough-luck misses. His defense wasn’t bad either, but he also didn’t up his defensive intensity against such a good offense. Lillard made his game-winner over Stuckey.
Are fourth-quarter problems a coaching issue? They seem like a coaching issue, but it’s difficult to know from afar. The Pistons blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead, but it seemed more to do with the Trail Blazers asserting their advantage in well-fitting talent than anything Cheeks did wrong. Cheeks deserves credit for milking Smith in the post for so much of the game.
|Greg Monroe, PF 34 MIN | 10-18 FG | 2-4 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | -4
Monroe ran the floor hard and crashed the glass even harder. He’s a skilled player, but high effort like he displayed tonight takes him to the next level. Add a couple nice passes and quiet defense (which is good for him), and Monroe deserves stellar marks.
|Josh Smith, SF 35 MIN | 3-13 FG | 4-6 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +1
Smith did a good job getting inside, taking eight shots in the paint. He had poor results on them tonight, making just 2-of-8, but those are good looks for him. His 1-for-5 shooting outside the paint was mostly due to regular ole poor shot selection. His defense was unimpressive, though it didn’t sink to problematic.
|Andre Drummond, C 39 MIN | 8-11 FG | 6-8 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 22 PTS | -1
Drummond is too big. He jumps too high. He’s too strong. His hands are too good. On one play, he caught a pass behind him while barreling through the paint, absorbed a foul and threw the ball toward the hoop. It was a little bit of luck that it went through the rim, but Drummond deserved full credit for giving it a chance. On another play, he reverse tipped in an airball that fell short of the rim. (He actually tried to reverse dunk it.) His conditioning could probably still use some work, as he definitely faded. But Drummond was so good earlier, he all but locked up a good grade. Oh, and his free-throw shooting might have finally turned for the better. Drummond changed his routine at the foul line. Now, he waits several beatt, takes a deep breath, spins the ball in his hands and then shoots without dribbling. Small sample, but it obviously worked tonight.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 35 MIN | 3-14 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +3
Jennings looked for his own shot way too often considering how well his teammates were shooting. He had his usual difficulties keep the opposing point guard in front of him, but Jennings gets a small reprieve tonight, because Deron Williams (22 points and nine assists) also gave Caldwell-Pope and Rodney Stuckey issues. It’s tough to slam Jennings too much when not even better defenders had much success.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 19 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -5
Twice, Caldwell-Pope launched a 3-pointer and crashed toward the rim right after releasing the shot to try for an offensive rebound. It’s the type of effort many players display only when they think they missed. But both Caldwell-Pope’s shots swished. He’s developed a lot of good habits while working through his poor shooting to start his career. Hopefully, he doesn’t lose those once he gets comfortable in the NBA.
|Josh Harrellson, PF 11 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +18
Harrellson was +18 in 11 minutes, and while much that was coincidence, he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. On both ends of the court, Harrellson makes the little plays that help a team function well.
|Kyle Singler, SF 23 MIN | 5-8 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -2
Singler is a very good cutter, but his jumper is merely an OK secondary weapon. Tonight, Singler deftly focused on cuts and used his jumper only as a threat to open cutting lanes. Unfortunately, his defense was somewhat ineffective.
|Chauncey Billups, SG 13 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +1
Billups was fine, passing well, though he forced a long 3-pointer that missed badly seemingly because he got impatient with such a reduced offensive role. But the Pistons’ nearly blew their 21-point lead, and they had a net rating of -76.8(!) while he was on the court in the fourth quarter. Obviously, that’s far from entirely Billups’ fault, though he applied no defensive pressure on a late Paul Pierce 3-pointer. But Billups is the one who bragged about being capable of solving the Pistons’ fourth-quarter woes. Nope. Not even close. Who would have though role players don’t have that ability?
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 29 MIN | 7-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +9
Stuckey had the size and speed to take his defender, typically a lighter Brooklyn guard, wherever he wanted. Then, Stuckey had the body control to make his shots. This was a real expert offensive game from him. Stuckey was far from perfect defensively, and multiple players gave him trouble, but his effort was certainly there.
The Pistons’ defensive scheme gives stretch fours way too much room on the perimeter, even accounting for the jumbo frontcourt’s inherent defensive issues. Even two-big lineups have the same problem, because both bigs stay in the lane too resolutely. It’s a fine initial plan, but it doesn’t work in every matchup. Mirza Teletovic exploited the issue with 5-of-6 3-point shooting, and Cheeks never adjusted. It nearly cost Detroit a win.
|Greg Monroe, PF 42 MIN | 13-22 FG | 2-7 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 28 PTS | +6
Monroe worked really hard on offense. Generating 18 shots in the restricted area — he made 12, converting 6.8 percentage points better than league average — is not easy, but Monroe kept forcing his way into that high-efficiency area both with and without the ball. That outweighed defensive laziness, though his defense and free-throw shooting drop his grade.
|Josh Smith, SF 32 MIN | 5-15 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -8
Smith made a few big shots, but that doesn’t negate an overall underwhelming shooting night. Smith took too many jumpers, of course, but he also shot just 4-for-9 in the paint. He often didn’t get all the way to the rim, settling for hook shots a little further out in the paint. Smith had a couple shots blocked, and that might have spooked him. If that were the case, he can’t let that happen next time. Although his hook looks nice when he makes it, Smith is capable of getting all the way to the rim more often, and his layups are much more effective than his hooks. His defense doesn’t save him this time.
|Andre Drummond, C 35 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -13
Drummond is so good, he can have a quiet double-double. He didn’t make enough noise defensively, and that hurt the Pistons. They need more from him on that end, but games like this show why they can’t keep him off the floor.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 46 MIN | 10-23 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 6 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 25 PTS | -2
Jennings was 6-for-8, including 4-of-5 on 3-pointers, into the third quarter. After that, he went 4-for-15 and 0-for-5 on 3-pointers. That’s the problem with Jennings: He’s rarely as hot as he thinks he is. Even though the Pistons had team-wide issues keeping guards from penetrating on the pick-and-roll, Jennings did a particularly horrendous job of staying in front of Jrue Holiday. At least he adjusted by gambling more, and he gambled effectively, even poking the ball loose a couple times after his man blew by him. Also consider that a few of Jennings’ late misses came with the clock forcing his hand, and overall, this was a very strong performance.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 25 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -8
Caldwell-Pope’s defense was good enough to create his only made shot, a layup after a steal, but his effectiveness on the defensive end fell well short of great. His effort was there, but the Pelicans’ screens and ball movement had him lost at times — though it’s quite possible his teammates did a poor job of communicating on those plays. Within the offense, he took a couple comfortable shots and a couple uncomfortable shots and missed all four.
|Josh Harrellson, PF 12 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | 0
Harrellson was all over the place, making the little deflections that don’t show up in the box score. He was the Pistons’ best defensive big man, but he was also a non-entity offensively. That’s better than being an offensive negative, but it would help if he didn’t disappear on that end.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1
Small sample, but the Pelicans killed the Pistons on the glass while Jerebko got his lone run in the second quarter, and Jerebko was at least somewhat at fault, even though he grabbed one rebound with a New Orleans player on his back. Jerebko never had a chance to do anything offensively. This was was nearly an incomplete.
|Kyle Singler, SF 29 MIN | 1-5 FG | 6-8 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -7
Singler cut very well, and his teammates found him, often leading to New Orleans fouls. Singler also looked really, really good as a rim protector. His three blocks were no cheapies.
|Peyton Siva, PG 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3
Siva defended better than any other Pistons guard, but his defense was not overly impressive. It probably didn’t just as many minutes as he got, considering the offense remains very poor when he’s running it.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 33 MIN | 7-16 FG | 6-6 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | +9
Stuckey just looks so confident with the ball in his hands. His range beyond 13 feet or so is shaky, but he gets it done inside that with a variety of moves — shots and passes.
The Pistons’ defense was a mess. Confusion on pick-and-rolls, rotation issues when the Pelicans moved the ball, losing track of Ryan Anderson, getting outrun even in non-obvious transition opportunities. I’m not sure how much of that to pin on Cheeks, but he likely deserves at least some of the blame. On the plus side, Cheeks allocated minutes in line with production.
|Greg Monroe, PF 20 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -14Monroe shot efficiently, but who cares? He didn’t bully his way inside nearly enough times and he did a horrendous job on Love. I expect Love to score on anyone, but getting beat on the glass 16-2 is unacceptable.|
|Josh Smith, SF 34 MIN | 7-14 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | -18Smith took 7 of his shots in the paint. And he hit 5 of them. The other 7 attempts were stupid, especially the 20-foot 2-pointers (even though he made one of them).
But Smith also bailed out two of three abysmal passes by Jennings–and another from Billups–that would have been turnovers if they’d been thrown to a player only slightly less alert, hustling or athletic.
|Andre Drummond, C 29 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -19Drummond didn’t play a terrible game, but he is easily the best player on the Pistons. They need more from you, Dre.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG 31 MIN | 8-16 FG | 2-5 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 20 PTS | -19See Josh Smith above for why Jennings had “only” six turnovers. Early in the season, Jennings was putting up an excellent assist-to-turnover ratio but couldn’t shoot. Now his shots are dropping but he can’t stop giving the ball away.
You’re in Motown, take a cue from the obnoxious Ford commercials, Jennings. Accurate passing AND shooting is better than accurate passing OR shooting.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 33 MIN | 7-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -22As is normally the case, Caldwell-Pope’s grade is only slightly based on his box score. Tonight, he was making tons of huge plays that required hustle and getting himself to the right place in time:
Monroe dribbled the ball off his foot and KCP saved it from going out of bounds, instead draining a corner 3. Smith bobbled the ball away on the fast break; the Wolves would have recovered it, but KCP was right behind and slammed it home. Billups tried to throw the ball away but Pope bailed him out and two passes later, Harrellson got an easy deuce.Biggest of all was his block on Love’s fast break dunk attempt. He wasn’t even in the screen when Love started going up, but Caldwell-Pope pinned the ball on the glass, recovered it, and sent it the other way for a Smith dunk and a quick four point swing.
|Tony Mitchell, PF 10 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -4Mitchell played well in garbage time.|
|Josh Harrellson, PF 13 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -6Harrellson didn’t do a great job on Minnesota’s big men but he ended up guarding wings a couple times and did a really good job of that. Martin got him in the air on a pump fake, but Josh landed right in front of him so K-Mart couldn’t pull a Pierce and get cheap free throws, but was instead trapped in the corner with a massive body impeding his movement. Then Harrellson drew a fast break charge from Cunningham that felt very important at the time, before the Wolves’ lead ballooned.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 21 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 5 PTS | -9Jerebko was decent but unremarkable. It’s too bad his one spectacular play (a vicious putback dunk) was called off for offensive goaltending.|
|Charlie Villanueva, PF 8 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -9Villanueva’s time on the floor was fairly irrelevant, but he did hit a 3-pointer on just two tries and he was making an effort on D, which was half-encouraging and half-depressing.|
|Luigi Datome, SF 6 MIN | 0-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -5Datome is gradually building up a big enough sample size to conclude that perhaps he’s not actually a good shooter. He is now 4-23 (17 percent) from beyond the arc and 13-43 (30 percent) overall.|
|Kyle Singler, SF 11 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0Singler might as well have not played in this one.|
|Peyton Siva, PG 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -6Siva got the inverse of his regular numbers. Coming into this game, he had a 1:2 AST:TO ratio. Tonight, it was 2:1, which isn’t great, but is a lot better.|
|Chauncey Billups, SG 18 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -4Don’t be fooled by Billups’ zero turnovers, that is thanks to some incredibly athletic saves by Smith and KCP. But apart from a couple wild passes, Billups played about to expectations. His poor shooting is probably more due to decline and the fact that he’s always shot a low percentage than it is due to rust.|
I don’t know what Cheeks could have done differently in this one. Detroit just got torched by Love. But he certainly didn’t make a positive impact.
Two Things We Saw
- Love put up an insane line of 26 points, 16 rebounds, and 7 assists–in just 30 minutes. The Wolves were pounding the Pistons sufficiently that he never got on the court in the 4th quarter.Only Kevin Garnett (26-15-5 in 29 mins) and Brad Daugherty (30-15-5 in 29 mins) have managed to put up a 25-15-5 in so few minutes.
- The Pistons were less aggressive than their opponent at going to the hole. Given their relative lack of shooting prowess, that can’t happen. Minnesota ended up with 33 free throws to Detroit’s 16. And then the Pistons exacerbated the problem by missing half of them.
Miami trounces Detroit, Pistons (somehow, at 10-11) still hold fourth-best record in Eastern Conference
|Greg Monroe, PF 29 MIN | 3-10 FG | 4-5 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -15Monroe played hard but was largely neutralized offensively by the Heat. He has to throw his weight around more against smaller guys. His strip as LeBron went hard to the rim was a thing of beauty though.|
|Josh Smith, SF 31 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -16Smith wasn’t taking bad shots. He wasn’t hitting enough of his good ones, but this would represent progress if he somehow maintains it. His defense left a lot to be desired, but Smith isn’t a perimeter defender. That’s an adjustment Cheeks has to make. Drummond is good at corralling smaller guys, Smith isn’t. Switch who’s guarding whom.|
|Andre Drummond, C 36 MIN | 8-11 FG | 3-6 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | -12I saw Drummond grabbing boards all over the place and playing fantastic help defense. I had no idea, until I looked at the box score, that he had 19 points. Drummond is a beast!|
|Brandon Jennings, PG 34 MIN | 6-14 FG | 6-7 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 19 PTS | -13Jennings hit 43% of his shots, so that’s better than normal. The 1:1 AST:TO ratio hurts though. Like most of the team, he looked good early and terrible late.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 18 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -14Caldwell-Pope had a miserable game. He contributed nothing on offense and while his defense didn’t look awful (it didn’t look good either), he got burned by every wing he tried to cover.|
|Tony Mitchell, PF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3Mitchell’s garbage time did not yield anything worth evaluating.|
|Josh Harrellson, PF 11 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3Harrellson’s battled, but he didn’t exhibit much talent tonight. Cheeks was getting better play out of Jerebko and Villanueva so he had no reason to leave Josh in.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 21 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | +1Jerebko played very well and his threes were a huge reason the Pistons stuck around in the first half.|
|Charlie Villanueva, PF 14 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -6Villanueva made the most of his time on the floor offensively. But he may as well have been a pylon on defense. So we pretty much got “good Villanueva” in this game.|
|Luigi Datome, SF 8 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3Datome is a Piston for one reason: to hit shots. He didn’t do that.|
|Kyle Singler, SF 20 MIN | 3-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -1Singler is reasonably good at sticking with his man and rotating properly. But he’s also a bit slow, so when the other team moves the ball really well, he’s doomed. I don’t know how much better he was capable of guarding all of Miami’s shooters, but he wasn’t good enough in this one.On the other hand, Singler shot well.|
|Peyton Siva, PG 14 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -2Siva looked like a competent end-of-the-bench player! It’s a miracle.|
I don’t know if Cheeks did anything differently in this game than the one in Miami, but the Pistons looked their worst out of the gate and immediately after the halftime break. At one point, he was playing either Jerebko or Villanueva at SG. Sorry, Mo, you only get points for creativity if it works (or at least if I think it should have a shot at working).
Two Things We Saw
- The Pistons have been pretty up and down in the 3rd quarter this season. This game was a big down. Miami tore the game open by starting the quarter 15-4 and the Pistons never got close enough again to make it seem like they had a shot.
- Miami’s shooting was unstoppable. At one point, their bench had 31 point on 12 shots. In general, when the other team shoots 56% to your 42%, you’re probably not going to win that game.
|Greg Monroe, PF 36 MIN | 3-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +20Monroe didn’t have the prettiest stat line, but he owned the paint in the second half. Even as Drummond sat, Chicago’s bigs were worse than useless.Also, he seems to be developing some real chemistry with Caldwell-Pope. Early in the game, Monroe made a lane to the basket appear for Caldwell-Pope by placing the ball perfectly on a pass. Later, he somehow split a pair of Bulls as he fell out of bounds saving a tough rebound to KCP.|
|Josh Smith, SF 35 MIN | 2-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 7 PTS | +15Smith continues to take bad shots and miss good ones. This has been a rough season for him. But he also gets tons of deflections and hockey assists that just don’t make it into the box score.|
|Andre Drummond, C 30 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 14 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | -2It’s amazing the Drummond got 30 minutes given his foul problems and the fact that he got hobbled in the second half. But he made his presence felt while on the floor. On one possession in the second quarter, the Pistons managed to get six offensive rebounds (five of them by Drummond!) before Dre eventually flushed the ball home.Drummond’s inability to push Muhammad around was disconcerting.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG 42 MIN | 12-22 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 33 PTS | +25When Jennings actually scores efficiently, he’s really good. Of course, it speaks volumes that the commentators referred to him as “hitting everything” and “unable to miss” in a game where he hit one more than half of his shots.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 38 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +19Caldwell-Pope had a couple highlight moments, but he didn’t do much else in between. His defense was again good, but his production should really be higher for 38 minutes of playing time.|
|Josh Harrellson, PF 13 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +16Harrellson was the most important player in the third quarter stretch when Detroit pulled away. The basketball being played at that point was really ugly; everyone was making mistakes more often than not, and Harrellson’s play was no exception. But he outhustled everyone and hustle is even more important in a sloppy game.Harrellson had some beautiful blocks including one that somehow got called a foul.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 7 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -3Jerebko played a couple minutes of very good D and hit what felt at the time like a huge three. But he seems to have lost the hustle and do-it-all tendencies that made him so much fun early in his career.|
|Kyle Singler, SF 22 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +5Singler did a miserable job of covering Dunleavy, but contributed more than he gave up. It was a solid outing.|
|Peyton Siva, PG 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -8Siva played without making too many mistakes (just one ugly shot and one intended lob that was awful–it clanked off the rim), but he still doesn’t look like an NBA caliber player.With Siva on the floor, the Pistons essentially play 4-on-5 offensively, so you have to hope he completely shuts down his man so that his presence is a wash.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 10 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -2Rough night for Stuckey. But it seems his knee was probably to blame. Here’s hoping he gets well soon, the Pistons have really needed Stuckey so far this year.|
After getting beaten up in a close first half, the Pistons came out swinging to open the third quarter and din’t let up. I don’t know if that’s on Cheeks, but he certainly didn’t seem to screw anything up in this game. That’s enough to keep me happy.
Two Things We Saw
- Both Stuckey and Drummond went down in this game (Drummond returned, Stuckey didn’t). But a Bulls squad missing Rose, Deng, and Butler won’t offer any sympathy.
- The Pistons are getting it done on the road. They hadn’t won at the United Center since 2006, but are now one of just two teams to win in Chicago this year (along with New Orleans) as well as one of just two teams to win in Miami (along with Boston).
|Greg Monroe, PF 37 MIN | 8-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | +11
Whether working with or without the ball, Monroe consistently established shooting position deep in the paint. In fact, all 10 of his shots came in the paint. The undersized Heat did their best to swat at the ball when Monroe had it, but he showed off his improved core strength to keep them at bay. Monroe looked bad defensively, but he was often guarding perimeter players – obviously not his forte. Monroe’s defensive issues seemed mostly due to a gameplan that put him in position to fail (though maybe a gameplan that sacrificed Monroe on defense to avoid greater problems on that end).
|Josh Smith, SF 39 MIN | 7-21 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | +3
Shots. So many shots. Smith made just 1-of-10 attempts beyond seven feet, a mark that is dreadful for both the volume and quality of his jumpers. Smith defended well, but his performance on that end fell short of the of the high bar that convinces coaches to look past his poor shot selection.
|Andre Drummond, C 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-6 FT | 18 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -2
Drummond had a few 50-50 calls go against him, and that led to him fouling out. Before that, he rebounded like crazy, especially offensively, and provided plus defense. Drummond has to be more careful about avoiding fouls. He’s too good to get trapped on the bench, even if he didn’t necessarily deserve it.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 44 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 7 TO | 15 PTS | +3
Jennings often over-dribbled, which resulted in most of his season-high seven turnovers. Those were problematic, but they didn’t define Jennings’ performance. He got to the rim effectively and made 2-of-4 3-pointers. He also used his quick hands to make up for otherwise-pedestrian defense, most memorably late in the fourth quarter as Detroit prevented a Miami comeback. LeBron James drove on a fastbreak, but Jennings made a quick swipe as LeBron rose to finish. Then, Jennings got the ball upcourt in a hurry for a Monroe layup.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 20 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +13
Caldwell-Pope started very aggressively, making 3-of-4 shots in the first five minutes, by cutting harder off the ball than he usually does. Then, he faded into the background.
|Josh Harrellson, PF 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +5
Harrellson didn’t really play like himself. He drove from beyond the arc right through the Miami defense, and he also attempted a mid-range jumper. On defense, he covered LeBron on the perimeter, and LeBron took a 3-pointer. All three shots missed, probably a decent tradeoff.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 10 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +4
Jerebko was very active and shot well. Offensive and defensively, I was quite pleased with him. He’s knocking on the door of getting another chance at a bigger role.
|Kyle Singler, SF 27 MIN | 6-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +9
Singler rewarded Cheeks’ confidence by making 4-of-7 3-pointers, leading Detroit’s 7-for-16 night from beyond the arc. That brings the number of Pistons making 3s at better than the league-average clip to… one – Rodney Stuckey, a notoriously bad outside shooter who would be below average had he missed one more of his small sample of 3s. Only one current Piston has a career 3-point percentage above the current league-wide season average, and that’s Chauncey Billups, who’s both injured and past his prime. Long story short, Singler’s and Detroit’s outside shooting against Miami was impressive, but it wasn’t encouraging – and there’s a difference. That Singler, now up to 29 percent for the season, is one of the Pistons’ top 3-point shooters says more about them than him.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 33 MIN | 4-9 FG | 8-8 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 16 PTS | +4
Stuckey is not shy about attacking nearly every time he gets the ball. That led to plenty of free throws, shots near the basket and turnovers. In this game, and most games lately, those positive outcomes far outweigh the negative ones. Stuckey also got a few assists by faking a drive to create passing lanes.
I don’t think Cheeks was the catalyst for this win. The Heat had a ton of unforced turnovers and missed many open 3-pointers they’d typically make. But the Pistons did a good job of generating fastbreak opportunities (15 fastbreak points) and quality looks in semi-transition (60 points in the paint) even though Miami sacrifices offensive rebounds to get back on defense. Cheeks’ style is really beginning to take hold, and that particularly shows in games like this one, when no single player dominates.