Pistons Hit Rough Stretch, Drop Five of Six

FEB 26 – 23-34 is not usually the record of a team in playoff contention.

Through a coach firing, bricks galore and a horrible conference, the Detroit Pistons miraculously find themselves four games out of the playoffs with 25 games remaining. Their recent 1-5 stretch has not helped their chances, but with no one wanting to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, Detroit is in prime position to screw up yet another season.

Here is a breakdown of their last six games.

The Cavaliers came to the Palace for the last game before the All-Star break. Trailing the Pistons by three games at the time, this was viewed as a must-win for both teams.

Detroit held a seven-point lead entering the fourth quarter and looked in control on their home court. The Cavs went on an 8-0 run midway through the quarter to cut the deficit to two points. Tristan Thompson came up clutch for Cleveland late, scoring eight straight for his team in the final frame and 25 points overall. He also pitched in with 15 boards.

A pair of Kyrie Irving free throws with two minutes remaining gave the Cavaliers a one-point lead. Irving showed why he is regarded as one of the brightest young talents in the league by hitting a three-pointer with 27 seconds left to seal the game for the Cavs. They went on to win 93-89.

After a much-needed reprieve for the Pistons due to the All-Star break, they opened a back-to-back home-and-home series with the Charlotte Bobcats. Detroit received a thumping in both contests, dropping the first game at home 108-96 and the road game 116-98. The Pistons’ bigs had no answer for Al Jefferson, as he scored 32 and 29 points, respectively. Detroit was tied with Charlotte for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East before the two games, which turned into another opportunity squandered.

After the brief one-game road trip, Josh Smith got some revenge on his former team in their next game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Pistons found themselves in a familiar position at halftime, down by 11. In uncharacteristic fashion, Detroit was actually able to mount a comeback. An 8-0 run midway through the third quarter brought the Pistons even with Atlanta at 71.

With two minutes left in the game, Kyle Singler broke a 104-104 tie with a bomb from beyond the arc and an and-one by Will Bynum a minute later extended the lead. Singler sealed the deal with another three as Detroit walked away with a 115-107 win.

Dallas, a sneaky good team flying under the radar in the Western Conference, was next up for the Pistons. Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis were too much to handle for Detroit and handed them yet another home loss. The Pistons were never really in the game, down by 10 at halftime and unable to get closer than four points for the rest of the game. Nowitzki scored 24 for the Mavs and Ellis dished out 13 assists.

The final game of Detroit’s 1-5 streak came against Golden State on Monday. The Splash Brothers (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) made their only visit to the Palace this year. It was an entertaining game throughout, with the Pistons hanging tough with the hot-shooting Warriors. They found themselves up three at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

The final frame always seems to be the Achilles heel for the Pistons, and Monday’s matchup was no exception. Detroit could only muster 13 points in the fourth quarter and were outscored by 10 points. With Curry only shooting 6-15 from the field and 3-9 from deep, the Pistons had their best shot at beating Golden State. But the defense collapsed and the Warriors made it rain from three-point land, running away with a 104-96 win.

Through this six-game stretch, new interim coach John Loyer inserted Singler into the starting lineup in place of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Singler has been averaging 13.3 points per game in the last six, including hitting 50 percent of his three-pointers. The switch seems to be helping Singler, but at this point any roster changes may be too little too late.

Josh Smith was nearly traded at the deadline, but Joe Dumars could not swing a deal in time. In the last six games, his play has improved slightly, averaging 18.5 points per game with double-digit rebounds in four of those games.

Greg Monroe, also rumored to be on the trading block, remains a Piston until at least the end of the season. He has been one of the most consistent players on the team, scoring at least 13 points in the last six and making at least five shots per game.

Detroit might be the most frustrating team to watch in the NBA. With so much star power and young talent on the team, they should be bound for the playoffs. But every time they appear to be turning a corner in their season, they fall flat on their faces. As of right now, no one knows if they will make the playoffs, and we might not know until the final game has been played.


Blake Froling is the co-host of Impact Izzone for Impact Sports.

 

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NBA Trade Deadline Targets: Jeff Green

FEB 4 – With just two weeks until the All-Star break, the Pistons find themselves a half game out of the playoffs in an embarrassingly weak Eastern Conference. With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, Joe Dumars will almost certainly make a move that could make or break the season.

Jeff Green was a standout at Georgetown before being drafted No. 5 overall in 2007 by the Boston Celtics. He was traded to Seattle on draft night and spent three years with the SuperSonics and the Thunder. Green was traded back to the Celtics in 2011 at the trade deadline, but missed the entire 2011-2012 season with a heart complication

 

Green leads the Celtics in scoring with 16 points per game and has started every single game this season. This is by far the best season the 6-foot-9 small forward has had in his career and would be a perfect fit for the Pistons.

* * *

What Would the Deal Look Like?

The trade would likely be Jeff Green and a 2014 first round draft pick for Greg Monroe and Jonas Jerebko. Green makes $8.7 million per year, which is a hefty price, but the pick sweetens the deal enough. Green has two more years on his contract after this season and is only 27 years old. The first round pick depends on how Brooklyn finishes because the Celtics acquired it as part of the Garnett/Pierce trade.

* * *

Why the Deal Would Help Detroit?

The Pistons would be getting an athletic small forward that plays better defense than any small forward the Pistons have. According to nba.com, Green’s defensive rating is better than Josh Smith’s and Kyle Singler’s, but their offensive ratings are both better than Green’s. With Green not having to carry the team in scoring like he does in Boston, he could focus on defense, but still provide an outside threat that would help clear the paint.

With Monroe gone, Smith could move to his natural power forward position and hopefully stop shooting threes. He is much more effective around the basket and would see a drastic improvement in his numbers. His shooting has been awful this season and he is on pace to set the record for worst three-point percentage in the history of the NBA.

Andre Drummond would not have as much competition for minutes and rebounds with Monroe gone. We could really see just how special Drummond is going to be without another big man stealing some of his thunder.

Teams could no longer collapse the paint whenever the ball goes inside with viable shooting options outside. Green and has made 73 three-pointers so far, which would be second best on the Pistons behind Brandon Jennings. His 36.3 shooting percentage from beyond the arc would be the best on the team among players who see meaningful minutes.

* * *

Why the Deal Would Help Boston?

Rajon Rondo and Greg Monroe are two of the best young players in the NBA and would be perfect to build a franchise around. Rondo is a pass-first guard and would give Monroe more touches than he gets in Detroit. Monroe’s defense leaves something to be desired, but he has many years ahead of him to improve.

Jonas Jerebko has seen his minutes steadily decline for the past few seasons. In his rookie season, he started 73 games and averaged 9.3 points and six rebounds per game. He’s only 26 years old and could help the Celtics in their rebuilding process.

* * *

Could it Happen?

It is no secret that the Celtics are in rebuilding mode. They are clearly out of playoff contention and trade rumors have been swirling all season. Green is their best player until Rondo gets healthy, and he also has one of the biggest salaries on the team.

Rondo’s contract expires in the summer of 2015, and barring any health setbacks, he will most likely seek a max contract. Boston has every intention of re-signing him and needs to clear cap space. Among other players, Green is one player that Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge has talked about dealing before the deadline.

This move makes sense for both teams. Monroe would be the best big man that Boston has and Green would be a perfect fit at small forward for the Pistons. Joe Dumars is always a wildcard when it comes to making smart personnel decisions (see Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon, Corey Maggette), so at this point he could do anything.


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Opinion: Pistons Need to Shake Things Up

JAN 21 – After a MLK Day drubbing by the Los Angeles Clippers, the Detroit Pistons found themselves with a record of 17-24. At this time last year, an “inferior” Pistons squad was 16-25. The addition of superstars does not guarantee success, I suppose. Detroit must do something to break out of their funk and take advantage of a weak Eastern Conference, and it starts with the starting lineup.

Coach Mo Cheeks likes to have Andre DrummondGreg Monroe and Josh Smith on the court at the same time. While this combination may be physically imposing, it also creates problems. Spacing has been a major concern ever since Smith signed on the dotted line and those concerns have not gone away with time.

Drummond is ineffective outside of five feet. Monroe has slightly more range than Drummond, but likes to utilize post moves. Smith is at his best when he drives to the basket, but has a tendency to jack up more than the occasional three-pointer. With the paint so congested, defenses can collapse down low and deny any penetration.

The Pistons need to make a change to their starting lineup, and they should go smaller. According to nba.com, the Pistons are dead last in opponent field goal percentage from 15 to 19 feet and 20 to 24 feet. Opposing teams take advantage of Detroit’s lack of athleticism and quickness by drawing the bigs out of the paint and creating mismatches. While on offense, the Pistons are in the bottom five in field goal percentage outside of 10 feet, yet they are No. 3 in field goals attempted from 25 to 29 feet.

According to nbawowy.com, with the combination of Smith, Monroe and Drummond on the floor, opposing teams shoot 48.8 percent from the field. Take out Monroe and insert Kyle Singler and things change. Opponents now shoot 44.6 percent from the field. Detroit cannot afford to load up the paint and neglect the rest of the court.

Now to the backcourt. With Rodney Stuckey finally playing at a high level, I believe he should be in the starting lineup instead of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Using nbawowy.com again, the combination of Brandon Jennings and KCP produces 1.035 points per possession while shooting 44.5 percent. With Jennings and Stuckey together, they produce 1.103 ppp and shoot 46.5 percent.

Coach Cheeks usually gives both players the same amount of minutes, but Stuckey is vastly outplaying the rookie. Using per 36-minute stats to make things perfectly even, Stuckey shoots nearly seven percent better from the field and almost doubles the rookie in scoring. I can understand wanting to give KCP experience, but the Pistons should be in panic mode right now. Start Stuckey and the offense immediately improves.

There have been strong rumors that the Pistons will be active before the trade deadline. Most people think that Monroe will be dealt because of his expiring contract and the fact that his agent will push for a max contract over the summer. With Stuckey also having an expiring contract and playing so well this season, he could be thrown in to sweeten the deal and help with the salary cap.

The strongest rumor has been Monroe and Stuckey for Arron Afflalo and Tobias Harris of the Orlando Magic. Afflalo, a former Piston, is having the best season of his career, averaging 20.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. This could be a fluke season (see Charlie Villanueva) or the birth of a great young player. Harris is also playing much better than his career numbers. He is averaging 13.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game at just 21 years of age.

Whatever the Pistons do, they need to do something before it is too late. If the Smith/Jennings signings do not result in a playoff birth, then look for Joe Dumars to be out the door very quickly.

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Bright Spots in a Bleak Season

JAN 9 – What was once considered a slow start is now turning into a disappointing season for the Detroit Pistons.

As owners of a 14-22 record and a six-game losing streak after their loss to the Raptors Wednesday, underachieving might be an understatement. There have been a rash of injuries and a few benchings along the way, but the season is still young. Luckily for Pistons fans, there are a few bright spots for coach Cheeks’ squad.

* * *

Andre Drummond:

The former UConn Husky has lived up to, and exceeded, expectations that the “experts” had for him coming into his sophomore season in the Association. In a team filled with streaky shooters and plagued with injuries, Drummond has been one of the few consistent bright spots. The second-year center is averaging 12.8 points and 12.7 rebounds while shooting a stellar 60.5 percent from the field.

Drummond has not missed a game so far this season, showing that the back injury he suffered last year is not a lingering issue. Drummond is currently in eighth place in All-Star voting for frontcourt players in the Eastern Conference.

* * *

Rodney Stuckey:

In the last year of his contract, he has also exceeded expectations thus far. As the Pistons’ sixth man, has given coach Cheeks the opportunity to switch up the backcourt combinations during the game without seeing a drop-off in production. Unfortunately, Stuckey has missed eight games already with various injuries.

Through the Pistons’ first 36 games, in which Stuckey has played in 28, Rodney is averaging 14 points per game, up 2.5 from last season. His shooting has also improved, up four percent from a year ago. When comparing Stuckey and Brandon Jennings using per 36-minute stats, Stuckey actually averages 2.6 more points per game than Jennings. The Pistons could capitalize on Stuckey’s impressive season and his expiring contract by shopping him before the trade deadline.

* * *

Greg Monroe:

Moose, who is also in the last year of his contract, has given the Pistons solid production from the power forward position. Along with Drummond, you can almost always count on Monroe to post a double-double every night. He averages 14.6 points and nearly nine boards per game.

Many scouts believe that he has hit his ceiling in terms of potential, which is one reason why the Pistons decided not to give Monroe a contract extension this year. If Detroit decides to break up the “Big Three” of Drummond, Monroe and Josh Smith, then Greg would be the first one to go. There have not been any rumors as to who might trade for the big man, but there are several teams in need of a power forward like Monroe.

* * *

The Eastern Conference:

Yes, the Conference itself is a bright spot for the Pistons. The teams are so atrocious this year that Detroit finds itself only one game out of the playoffs despite being eight games under .500. If the Pistons were in the Western Conference, they would be merely three games ahead of last place.

With so many games remaining in the season, the Pistons have an excellent shot at making the playoffs this year. Eighth place will likely need a win total in the mid-thirties by year’s end, which is very doable for the Pistons. So cheer up Pistons fans, we stink, but so does everyone else.

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Pistons Recap: December 4-13

DEC 15 – BMO Harris Bradley Center hosted the Pistons, on December 4, to take on the struggling Bucks. Detroit jumped out to a seven-point lead after the first quarter. Andre Drummond was a force early in the paint, scoring seven points and grabbing six boards to lead the Pistons.

But the Bucks charged back, opening the second quarter on a 19-5 run to take a 38-31 lead midway through the frame. Ersan Ilyasova was a key part of the Milwaukee comeback, scoring 12 points and adding five rebounds in the second. The Pistons made up a little ground and went into halftime trailing 50-45.

Detroit came out firing in the second half, going on a 16-0 run to take a 64-54 lead with six minutes left in the third. The Pistons were able to maintain their lead through the third quarter thanks to the continued strong play of Drummond. He scored seven and added four rebounds.

The Bucks had no answer for the Pistons frontcourt, as Detroit had their way on the glass throughout the game. Milwaukee could never make a sizeable dent in the Pistons lead, and Detroit came away with the road win 105-98.

Drummond has had an All-Star caliber season in his sophomore campaign, and he continued his hot streak in Milwaukee. The former Huskie finished with 24 points and 19 rebounds to go along with three blocks.

Monroe had an equally impressive night, scoring 18 and adding 17 rebounds. The frontcourt trio of Josh Smith, Drummond and Monroe had 43 out of the 55 rebounds for the Pistons.

The Pistons headed to Chicago for the last game of their road trip on the seventh to face the Derrick Rose-less Bulls. Whenever these two teams get together, it’s always a knockdown, drag-out battle. A rash of injuries have plagued the Bulls and made them offensively challenged. With Rose and Luol Deng missing the game, Chicago struggled at times to fill the cylinder.

The game was tied 47-47 at halftime, but then the Pistons defense tightened up and brought the Chicago offense to a screeching halt. The Bulls could only muster nine third quarter points while shooting under 25 percent from the field. The Pistons were able to open up a commanding 15-point lead going into the final frame.

The fourth quarter was slightly better for the Bulls, but they could not close the gap on the Pistons and ended up losing 92-75.

Brandon Jennings exploded in Chicago, scoring 33 points including five three-pointers. He also added five dimes on the night, while being the only starter to score in double digits. Kyle Singler was effective off the bench with 12 points.

The Pistons rode their four-game win streak back to the Palace to square off against the defending champion Miami Heat. Lebron and company were looking for revenge after a disappointing loss in South Beach just five days earlier. Dwayne Wade was again held out of the game; he also missed the last matchup against the Pistons.

Miami started off red hot, taking a 16-5 lead midway through the first. The Pistons struggled to keep up with the high-powered Heat offense and ended the first quarter trailing by seven.

Within the first two minutes of the second quarter, the Pistons scored eight straight points before Miami was forced to call timeout. The Heat opened the lead back up to seven, where it hovered around for much of the second quarter. Miami led Detroit 59-53 after two.

It was all Miami in the third quarter. They outscored the Pistons by fifteen in the frame and left the Pistons no chance to make a comeback. The Heat went on to win the game 110-95 and evened up the season series. Drummond was once again dominant for the Pistons, scoring 19 to go along with 14 rebounds. Jennings added 19 with six assists.

On Tuesday, the Pistons hosted the high-scoring Minnesota Timberwolves. This game promised to be a shootout, and the Pistons were able to keep up through the first quarter. Twelve second quarter points from Kevin Martin helped Minnesota pull away to a 13-point lead at halftime. Kevin Love was on fire for the T-Wolves, scoring 19 of his 26 points in the first half.

The Pistons had no answer for Minnesota’s high-powered assault. The second half was much of the same, with Minnesota outscoring the Pistons in both the third and fourth quarters. Detroit eventually lost 121-94. This was the most points the Pistons gave up in a game so far this season.

Minnesota was able to match the Pistons in the paint, with both teams scoring 44 points down low. The Timberwolves shot an impressive 48 percent from beyond the arc, while the Pistons shot a paltry 28.6 percent. Brandon Jennings led the Pistons with 20 points and seven assists. Smith finally bounced back with 17 points, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 16.

The Pistons then traveled down to New Orleans to square off with the Pelicans. Detroit was down nine points to begin the fourth quarter, but a 9-0 run within the first few minutes quickly erased the deficit. A Ryan Anderson three-pointer with 2:14 remaining put the Pelicans up by four. But back-to-back baskets by J-Smoove tied the game with just over a minute remaining. Jennings missed a three-pointer at the buzzer, and the fans in New Orleans were treated to free basketball.

Anderson caught fire in the overtime, scoring eight points for the Pelicans to keep them ahead during the extra frame. The Pistons were forced to foul near the end, and New Orleans was hitting their free throws. They went on to win 111-106.

Greg Monroe was money all night, stuffing the stat sheet with 28 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Brandon Jennings was feeling it once again, putting up 25 and swiping the ball six times. Rodney Stuckey added 20 coming off the bench.

This loss dropped their record to 10-13. While they continue to be inconsistent, Detroit is starting to improve their chemistry. With a weak Eastern Conference, Detroit should have no problem making the playoffs.

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Pistons Recap: Philadelphia and Miami

DEC 4 – The Pistons took on Michael Carter-Williams and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday at the Palace. Philly had been coming off a tough stretch, losing seven of their last eight before facing Detroit. The 76ers struggle on defense, giving up the most points per game in the league. This proved to be their downfall in Detroit.

Detroit got off to a red-hot start, scoring a whopping 40 points in the first quarter and taking a 15-point lead. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope broke out of his shooting funk, scoring eight points in the first frame. He had been averaging 6.5 points per game in the last four games, so it was good to see the rookie heat up.

The Pistons kept their foot on the pedal in the second quarter, outscoring the 76ers by nine to take a 70-46 halftime lead. Andre Drummond entered beast-mode, scoring 12 in the first half and grabbing 10 rebounds. The Pistons flat-out outplayed the Sixers in almost every aspect of the game. They controlled the boards and shot surprisingly well from beyond the arc.

The 76ers finally got things going in the third quarter, outscoring the Pistons by 12 in the frame. Thaddeus Young scored 12 for Philadelphia and brought the deficit back down to 12. But that’s as close as they would get. The Pistons crushed any chance of a Philly comeback and went on to win by 15.

Drummond had the best game of his career and the best of any big man since Hakeem Olajuwon in 1990. He finished with 31 points, 19 rebounds, and six steals. This game showed just how bright the 20 year-old’s future is in the league. Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings had 20 points each, with Smith hitting 3-5 three-pointers and Jennings dishing out 12 assists. Rodney Stuckey came off of the bench and added 17 points. Rodney is having a breakout season, leading the team in scoring at the perfect time; he’s in the final year of his contract and wants to cash in. The Pistons could get much more for him in a trade than they anticipated at the beginning of the season.

Thaddeus Young led the way for Philadelphia, scoring 24 and grabbing five rebounds. Former Buckeye Evan Turner continued his impressive season with 20 points and three steals. Carter-Williams is making a strong case for rookie of the year, scoring 15 points, and adding six assists and six steals.

The Pistons took their talents to South Beach on Tuesday to face the defending champion Miami Heat. Detroit continued their hot shooting and took a 10-point lead after the first quarter. Kyle Singler and KCP both had six in the frame. In the second, Miami stayed with the Pistons, but couldn’t make up any ground on the Pistons’ lead. They went into halftime trailing 54-43.

Singler began to hit a groove in the third, scoring 10 points in the quarter and helping the Pistons extend their lead to 14. The Heat were without Dwyane Wade, and Lebron James couldn’t do much against the fearsome Pistons frontcourt. Detroit held on to their lead in the final frame despite a furious Miami rally and went on to beat the Heat 107-97. The win brought their record up to 8-10, good enough for sixth in the Eastern Conference.

Singler led the team in scoring, coming off the bench and adding 18 points. The frontcourt trio of Smith, Drummond and Greg Monroe combined for 41 points and 28 rebounds. The Heat have no post presence and it proved to be their downfall. Detroit had their way with Miami in the paint, scoring 60 down low. Jennings scored 15 with five assists and Stuckey added 16. The Pistons, who are known for bricking jump shots left and right, shot over 50% in the game. Detroit travels to Milwaukee on Wednesday to take on the struggling Bucks.

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Pistons Recap: New York and Atlanta

NOV 22 – The Pistons finally returned home from their grueling West Coast road trip to face Carmelo Anthony and the struggling New York Knicks. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope found himself in the starting lineup due to the absence of Will Bynum and Chauncey Billups, and looked to make the most out of the opportunity. With the depth of this roster, KCP has often found himself to be the odd man out, lucky to play more than five minutes.

The Pistons led by a slim two-point margin after the first quarter of play. KCP did not disappoint, scoring seven points in the frame. The Knicks were able to turn things around in the second quarter, charging out to a six-point lead halfway through the second. Italian sharpshooter Luigi Datome knocked down a three-pointer with three seconds left to tie the game going into halftime. That was the only shot he made in the game.

With under four minutes to go in the third quarter, the Pistons went on a seven-point run, capped off by a Kyle Singler three. The Knicks could not cut into the Pistons’ lead, and trailed 71-63 going into the final quarter of play. Rodney Stuckey scored five points in a row for the Pistons to open up the fourth quarter. They eventually extended their lead to 15 before the Knicks were forced to call timeout. A pair of free throws by J.R. Smith brought the Pistons’ lead down to five with 3:34 remaining. But that was as close as the Knicks would get, eventually losing 92-86.

Rodney Stuckey had a phenomenal game coming off the bench, scoring 21 points on 8-14 shooting. He’s been playing surprisingly well this season, only increasing his value should the Pistons decide to trade him before the deadline. Josh Smith added 19 points while taking 19 shots. The fearsome Pistons frontcourt of Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond combined for a beastly 48 points and 27 rebounds. KCP finished with 13 points.

Carmelo Anthony did all he could to keep his Knicks in the game, leading all scorers with 25 points. J.R. Smith pitched in with 18 points off the bench in the losing effort. The Pistons had not previously beaten the Knicks since 2011.

The following night, the Pistons headed down to Atlanta to face Josh Smith’s former team, the Hawks. It was a defensive battle in the first quarter, with Detroit only able to score 13 points. Yet they found themselves merely down by two. Then someone flipped a switch, and the Pistons scored 33 in the second quarter. Stuckey scored 10 points in the frame, and it appeared as though both teams forgot how to play defense. Detroit took a 46-43 lead into halftime.

The third quarter was just as entertaining, with both teams trading buckets and neither able to pull away. With less than two minutes remaining in the third, Lou Williams made a three-pointer to give the Hawks a two-point lead that they would not relinquish. Atlanta went on a seven-point run midway through the fourth that the Pistons simply could not come back from. They eventually fell 95-83.

Monroe had a disappointing night, scoring only seven points and grabbing four rebounds. Smith was ice cold as well, shooting 5-15 from the field and 0-4 from behind the arc for 11 points. Brandon Jennings had to do most of the work himself, scoring 21 points. He had to take 21 shots to get there, however. That number is way too high for any point guard, but the Pistons knew what they were getting when they signed Jennings in the offseason. Stuckey continued his hot streak with 18 points off the bench.

The Hawks shot an impressive 50.7% from the field, something that Coach Cheeks will definitely have to address with his players on defense. Big man Paul Millsap scored 18 points, but was a virtual non-factor on the boards. The Hawks as a team had only five offensive rebounds, compared to 15 for the Pistons. Detroit will get another shot at Atlanta on Friday when they return to the Palace for a rematch.

The Pistons are only 1-5 on the road, giving them a 4-7 record overall. The fans might not be happy, but if the season ended today, the Pistons would have the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Prediction: I know, I know, it’s early, but Detroit is right in the thick of it, and as the season goes along, they will improve. The chemistry between Jennings and the big men will improve, and they will start winning more close games.

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Pistons Recap: OKC and Portland

NOV 12, 2013 – The Oklahoma City Thunder came to the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday for the first and only time this season.

The Pistons held on to a slim two-point lead after the first quarter, mostly due to 10 points by Josh Smith. But Kevin Durant and the Thunder charged back, taking an 11-point lead late in the second quarter. Less than two minutes into the third quarter, the Pistons tied the game back up at 56.

It was a game of runs, with one team racing out to a lead, then the other coming right back. A late third quarter run capped off by a Jeremy Lamb three-pointer at the buzzer gave the Thunder an eight-point lead. The Pistons were not able to overcome that deficit and ended up losing 119-110.

Durant led all scorers with 37 points on 9-15 shooting and 17-19 from the charity stripe. Russell Westbrook added 20 points and Serge Ibaka had 11 with nine rebounds. Rookie center Steven Adams looked impressive coming off the bench, scoring 17 and grabbing 10 boards. The Thunder dominated the inside, outscoring the Pistons 50-40 in the paint and also outrebounding the Pistons by 10. The Thunder move to a 4-1 record with the win.

Greg Monroe continued his hot streak, posting another double-double (20 points, 15 rebounds). Smith had perhaps his best game as a Piston, scoring a team-high 25 points and adding eight rebounds. Brandon Jennings seems to be over his injury and looked like the guard we saw in Milwaukee. He scored 22 points and dished out 11 assists. Rodney Stuckey came off the bench and scored 17 points.

Even though the Pistons are a big, physical team, they can also got out in transition with the best of them. They outscored a very athletic OKC in the fast break 25-12.

The Pistons then embarked on their four-game west coast road trip, starting in Portland. The Pistons have historically struggled in the west, going 1-43 in their last 44 road games against the Western Conference. They looked to change their fortune against the hot Trail Blazers.

Damian Lillard’s nine first quarter points helped the Blazers jump out to a four-point lead at the end of one. Midway through the second quarter, the Pistons came back and took a 43-42 lead on a Rodney Stuckey three-pointer. But the Blazers continued their hot shooting and eventually took a three-point lead into halftime. The Blazers controlled the third quarter, never giving up their lead. With 1:28 left in the fourth quarter, the Pistons charged right back, coming within four points after a Jennings layup. But the Pistons failed to score another point, and went on to lose 109-103.

Lillard had a hot hand the whole night, going 5-8 from beyond the arc and scoring 25 points. The frontcourt tandem of Robin Lopez and Lamarcus Aldridge combined for 35 points and 22 rebounds. Their defense, however, was a little suspect. They allowed the Pistons to score 60 points in the paint, compared to just 36 for the Blazers. Portland moves to 5-2 on the year.

Brandon Jennings did all he could to keep the Pistons in the game, scoring 28 points, including 13 in the fourth. Andre Drummond bounced back from an off night against the Thunder, scoring 16 and grabbing 16 rebounds. All of his points came in the paint. Greg Monroe continued his hot streak, scoring 19 points and snagging eight rebounds. Josh Smith scored 11 and Stuckey added 13 points off the bench. The Pistons fall to 2-4 on the season, including three losses in a row.

The Pistons move on to Oakland Tuesday to square off against Golden State at 10:30 pm. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit, and heard on 97.1 the Ticket.

– See more at: http://impact89fm.org/sports/2013/11/12/pistons-recap-oklahoma-city-and-portland/#sthash.09eaHAKp.dpuf

Logjam in Backcourt Hurts KCP, Bynum

Nov 7, 2013 – With the recent return of guards Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Jennings, the Pistons find themselves in a sticky situation. Currently they have five guards on their roster, all of which have performed well when given the opportunity.Stuckey, Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Will Bynum, and rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (KCP) all have had their bright spots this season and look to contend for minutes. But five guards are too many to rotate through in one game. Someone has to sit out or take a significant cut in minutes. So far, the player affected most has been KCP.

In the first two games of the season, KCP averaged over 22 minutes on the court. He scored 13 points in only 18 minutes in a loss to Memphis. He added nine points in 27 minutes in the season opener versus Washington, in which both Stuckey and Jennings were inactive. With the return of both guards, there was just nowhere for coach Maurice Cheeks to place the rookie.

In the last two games against Boston and Indiana, KCP played zero and four minutes, respectively. Barring more injuries, it appears as if this will be a trend for KCP, unless Cheeks decides to give Billups games off for rest. Another option would be to move Pope to the small forward position. At 6-foot-5, it might be a bit of a stretch, but his shooting abilities make him well suited as a wingman.

The other guard that could see his role diminish is Will “The Thrill” Bynum, who started the first three games of the season alongside Billups. In his first two games, Bynum averaged 18.5 points and 5.5 assists. But when Jennings returned to the lineup against Boston, Bynum saw his minutes nearly cut in half.

In the two games Jennings has been active, Bynum only scored a total of nine points. The only way Bynum could see his minutes increase would be if Billups was given a night off or if Cheeks decided to move KCP over to the small forward position for a game.

Chauncey Billups has started every game for the Pistons so far this season. Although he’s seen his minutes slightly diminish in the last two games, it was expected. When he was signed in the offseason, the plan was for Chauncey to come off the bench and play 20-something minutes per game.

With all the injuries in the backcourt, Billups has been thrust into a starting role. Cheeks will likely shuffle the starting rotation as the season goes on, with Stuckey being the most likely to take the starting position from Billups.

The logjam at the guard position is a problem, but one that Coach Cheeks doesn’t mind having. This team is one of the deepest Pistons squads in years, and it will help in the dog days of the season. Players will be fresh, but not rusty. Being a former player himself, Cheeks knows how to handle the rotation, especially at the guard position.

For the remainder of the season, look for Jennings and Stuckey to get the bulk of the playing time in the backcourt, with Billups first off the bench. KCP will continue to get DNP’s next to his name, but could also sporadically see significant minutes to give someone rest. Bynum will see about 20 minutes of action per night, and will start a handful of games going forward.

– Original link to article: http://impact89fm.org/sports/2013/11/07/logjam-in-backcourt-hurts-kcp-bynum/#sthash.MaAljruJ.dpuf

Pistons Weekend Recap: Memphis and Boston

Nov 5, 2013 – After an impressive opening night win against Washington, the Pistons packed their bags and headed for the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll to face the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. Memphis had just lost their first game of the season in San Antonio, and was looking to bounce back against the new-look Pistons.

Detroit had not beaten Memphis since October 28, 2009. With Rodney Stuckey returning to the lineup, the Pistons added much-needed depth to their backcourt.

With 1:08 left in the fourth quarter, Josh Smith hit a three-pointer to give Detroit a six-point lead. But the Grizzlies charged back, tying the game with eight seconds left on a Marc Gasol layup. A missed three-pointer by Chauncey Billups sent the game into overtime.

The Pistons played catch-up the entire overtime period. Zach Randolph and Tony Allen took advantage of Pistons miscues and opened up a 106-97 Grizzlies lead with 1:30 left. The Pistons never had a chance after that, eventually losing 111-108.

Josh Smith had 19 points on a paltry 7-23 shooting, including 3-11 from beyond the arc. Smith was much more effective when he drove to the basket, making four of his seven shots in the paint. Andre Drummond logged 48 minutes, the most of any player on either team. Drummond finished with an impressive stat line, posting 12 points, 16 rebounds, three steals and two blocks with only one turnover. Greg Monroe had an equally impressive night, scoring 16 and grabbing eight boards.

Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 13 points and Rodney Stuckey scored 19 off the bench. Will Bynum, once thought to be the odd man out in the Pistons’ backcourt, started alongside Billups and scored 18 points on 7-11 shooting. With Brandon Jennings returning to the lineup in Boston, it will be interesting to see how Head Coach Maurice Cheeks rotates his guards.

On the Memphis side, Mike Conley led all scorers with 22 points and five steals. Frontcourt duo Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 31 points and 18 rebounds in the contest. Memphis had never won a home opener since the team moved from Vancouver in 2001.

The Pistons then headed home on Sunday, where they wore their new “Motor City” jerseys. They plan to wear them during every Sunday night game this season. Their opponent was the Boston Celtics, a franchise in rebuilding mode.

The Pistons dominated the paint the entire game, outscoring Boston 54-38 down low. Detroit opened up a 10-point lead in the first half and seemed in control of the game. But the young Boston team rallied back, taking a 64-63 lead early in the fourth quarter. A few short minutes later, the Pistons went on a run of their own, extending their lead back to 10. The Pistons never looked back, going on to win 87-77. The Celtics dropped to 0-3, while the Pistons moved to 2-1 on the season.

Smith, Drummond, and Monroe combined for 45 points and 29 rebounds, while Drummond had his way with the Celtics, dunks and put-backs galore. Brandon Jennings made his regular season debut after returning from tooth and jaw problems and was forced to wear a mask but was still able to score 14 points and dish out four assists.

The Pistons stay in Detroit this week,  facing Paul George and the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday and Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

Original link to article: http://impact89fm.org/sports/2013/11/05/pistons-weekend-recap-memphis-and-boston/#sthash.2YjllrN0.dpuf