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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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