Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pistons - Knicks recap from MSG

My Recap:

Left town @ 1:30, arrived in the city at around 5:00. We drove through the Bronx and stopped at Yankee Stadium... took some pictures of the new Yankee stadium and old one. Pretty amazing that such a palace of sports entertainment can be located in the middle of an absolute shit hole.

Got to the arena at around 6:30. Got up to my nosebleed seats and watched a couple of the guys on the Pistons (Hamilton, Villanueva, Gordon) and Knicks (David Lee, some other unnamed guy - Wilson Chandler?) shoot. With so much security and ushers around I didn't even attempt to go to the lower bowl and try and get an autograph/picture. That sucked, but I didn't see Stuckey before both teams came out in their warmups anyway, so I'm not overly disappointed. Stuckey seemed pretty loose during the warmups... laughing, pretending to box a few of the camera people on the floor. Rodney looked good on his jumpers and three pointers, missing a few. Stuck then worked with his trainer... his trainer stretching his legs and rubbing down his upper thighs and ass cheeks. I thought to myself, I wish that was me down there... (nohomo)

The Game

The Pistons fell behind by a lot early... bricking jumpers left and right. Stuckey got the Pistons back in the game with some strong drives to the rim, a nice baseline jumper and some free throws (no I didn't chant "MVP" during his free throws. lol). Stuckey hit Prince with a couple nice feeds for alley-oops as well. Prince had an okay game. Besides Stuckey, Jerebko was the only other Piston to play really well. McGrady looked like vintage T-Mac... driving to the hole, drawing fouls and knocking down tough contested jumpers.

The game was lost midway through the 3rd quarter, when the refs decided to take the Pistons completely out of the game by calling 3 fucking fouls on Stuckey within the span of about 3 minutes. Stuckey had to come out at around the 5:00 minute mark, and when he came back in with about 6:00 minutes left in the 4th, a 7 point deficit ballooned to 21 points. Overall, the team played lethargic and without any consistent energy. They scored more than enough points to win, but I've never seen a more pathetic effort on defense. Just constantly allowed guys to beat them off the dribble and get easy layups and dunks. Celtics castoff Bill Walker killed the Pistons... a couple of his dunks really got the crowd up on it's feet.

The game was pretty competitive through three quarters, but the Pistons completely collapsed in the fourth quarter like they have so often this year. The game was pretty fun otherwise... lot of Piston fans in attendance, including two Piston fan girls that were sitting right in front of me. They were pretty fucking wasted by the fourth quarter. LOL

I'll post some pics later on when I load them onto my computer.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pistons Mid-Season Report

We’ve now arrived at the All Star break – the unofficial midway point of the NBA season. The 2010 Detroit Pistons have had a tumultuous season to this point, marred by numerous injuries to key starters. The Pistons have been disappointing on the whole this year, but there have been a few bright spots. Here are the grades (highest to lowest).

Ben Wallace

Midseason Grade: B+

Summary: Big Ben has given Detroit more than anyone could have imagined this year. Signed to the veteran’s minimum, Wallace was expected to fill the role of a 4th-5th big man off the bench, but he’s done so much more than that. Ben leads the Pistons in rebounds per game (9.0), while his 1.3 steals per game rank second on the team. No one will mistake him for the player that won 4 DPOY awards from 2002-2006, but he has more than filled his role this year and he’s done something few Pistons have this year… consistent energy and effort.

Jonas Jerebko

Midseason Grade: B

Summary: Jonas Jerebko, taken in the middle of the 2nd round, has proven to be one of the steals of the 2009 NBA draft. Jerebko got his chance at playing time due to so many Pistons’ injuries, but he has more than earned his playing time, providing youthful energy and passion that has otherwise eluded the team. Jerebko is far from a polished product (shooting just 28% on threes and 68% at the line), but he certainly appears to be a long-term fixture in the Pistons future.

Rodney Stuckey

Midseason Grade: B-

Summary: At times, he’s played spectacularly, carrying the Pistons to unlikely wins against Denver and Boston. But he’s also been maddeningly inconsistent; shooting above 40% in just one month so far this year (December) and his decision making is also questionable at times. But he’s been the Pistons’ best player this year (leading the team in PPG, APG and PER) and he’s also taken more of a leadership role. His assists have been climbing lately (7.2 this month) and his turnovers have been going down. If Stuckey can continue to make the right decisions, while improving his shooting efficiency outside and finishing around the rim, I think the Pistons and Piston fans alike will be happy with the progress he’s made this year.

Even though Rodney has been the Pistons bet player this year, his inconsistencies prevent me from giving him a higher grade.

Ben Gordon

Midseason Grade: C-

Summary: Gordon started the year playing well, but he has been a pretty big disappointment on the whole. Gordon has not been immune to the Pistons’ injury bug either, missing 19 games. Gordon is averaging a career low in points (15.7) and three point percentage (32%)… two things he was supposed to bring to the Pistons. He’s had injuries though and he’s played in a crowded backcourt, so I’m not willing to say this was a complete failure of a free agent signing… yet.

Richard Hamilton

Midseason Grade: D+

Summary: After the first game of the year, Hamilton missed 27 consecutive games with a severe ankle sprain. Since returning, his play has been very inconsistent and he’s posted the worst numbers since his rookie year (career low 38.9% FG%, 2nd lowest PER, 2nd lowest Off. Rating). I’m not a huge Hamilton fan, but his days as a Piston could be numbered, so I won’t lay it on too thick. He’s had the added responsibility of a lot more playmaking than at any point in his Pistons career and that’s certainly hurt his numbers.

Charlie Villanueva

Midseason Grade: D

Summary: Charlie V has been the poster boy for inconsistency. One night, he’ll look great and get you 25 points/8 rebounds on efficient shooting. The next, he’ll give you 8 points on sub 40% shooting, he won’t box out and he certainly doesn’t defend under any circumstances (though he does give a better effort on that end when he’s involved in the offense). Villanueva shows some nice creativity and touch in the post area, but he simply doesn’t play in that area of the floor enough (sound familiar?). When his jump shot isn’t falling, Villanueva is essentially useless on the floor.

Tayshaun Prince

Midseason Grade: F

Summary: It’s been a rough season for Prince, sustaining his first serious injury (ruptured disk in back) which forced him to miss over 20 games. Prince is averaging career lows in points, field goal %, rebounds and in most efficiency metrics. His shot has improved of late, but that’s about the only thing he can do now. He has no lateral quickness anymore and is actually a defensive liability. Like Hamilton, Prince’s name has been in many trade rumors and his days as a Piston could be nearing an end.

Coach John Kuester

Midseason Grade: C-

Summary: I almost considered giving Kuester an Incomplete, given all the lineup juggling he’s been forced to do with all of the injuries to his key players. Kuester was supposed to bring an innovative offense to the table and we certainly haven’t seen much of that (Pistons rank 29th in PPG and 25th in Offensive Rating), besides a nice out of bounds play here and there. I think Kuester has done a fine job of coaching Stuckey and not only singing his praises when he plays well, but constructively criticizing him when he plays poorly.

My biggest beef with Kuester is his inability to get Daye and Summers more playing time. I think a lot of it has to do with the Pistons showcasing Prince and Hamilton for potential trades.

If Prince and Hamilton are still getting 30-36 minutes a game after the trade deadline (and not getting Daye and Summers into the lineup) then I will have a BIG problem with it.


Midseason Grade: F

Summary: Yes, this team has had a ton of injuries. But most people (myself included) had this team being, at the very least, a fringe playoff team. But they will fall well short of that. Looking back on it, I’m not sure why I had felt they had improved as a team. You can’t win in this league without a front court and the Pistons front court, if not the worst in the league, is one of the worst.

But, when it’s all said and done, I don’t think having a down year is the worst thing for this franchise. Being really bad for a year and getting a top 5 draft pick is a lot better than being mediocre and getting bounced in the first round. So, not all is bad in Piston Nation.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pistons beat Celtics; spoil Sheed’s homecoming

Amid the buzz and anticipation of Rasheed Wallace’s return to the Palace, the Pistons pulled off one of their best wins of the year, upsetting the Boston Celtics 92-86. Keyed by Rodney Stuckey, a staunch defensive performance in the 2nd half and clutch shooting by Villanueva in the 4th

quarter, the Pistons pulled out one of their best (if not the best) wins of the season.

Here are the 3 keys to the Pistons win:

Rodney Stuckey: Rodney Stuckey had one of his best all around games of the season, posting a line of 27 points, to go along with a career high 11 rebounds, 6 assists (only 2 turnovers) and 2 steals. Even the boxscore doesn’t do him justice; had he not blown several point blank layups he would have gone for at least 35 points. The Celtics had no answer for Stuckey all night, and he came up big in crunch time, scoring 6 points in a 13-0 Pistons run late in the 4th quarter to put the game away. Rondo had a very solid game (21/8/7) but Stuckey won the war here.

Stuckey seems to have finally put the knee injuries and flu-bug behind him.

Zone Defense: Zone defense was a staple of the Pistons defensive schemes in the Flip Saunders years, but it has rarely been used by the Pistons last two coaches. After giving up 56 points in the first half, they held the Celtics to just 30 points on 27% shooting in the 2nd half and forcing them into 10 turnovers.

"(Assistant coach) Brian Hill put that zone in the other day and we had talked about using it," coach John Kuester said. "We had a chance to practice it the other day and it was important to get this win. It enabled us to contest a lot of their shots."

Jason Maxiell had the highlight of the night, emphatically sending back an attempted Rasheed Wallace dunk to bring The Palace crowd to its feet. Big Ben also stuffed a Rasheed Wallace layup late in the 4th that helped extend a Pistons run.

But the Pistons could not have set up the zone if the Pistons had not taken control of their own turnover problems. After turning the ball over 15 times in the first half, the Pistons turned it over just twice in the 2nd half against the Celtic ball-hawking defense.

Overall, the Celtics shot just 43% from the field and turned the ball over 19 times.

Controlling the Glass:

This game was ultimately won on the glass. The Pistons out-rebounded the Celtics 45-35, including 13-5 on the offensive glass (Stuckey had 6). The fact that the Pistons were still able to keep the Celtics off the offensive glass despite playing a ton of zone in the 2nd half, was impressive to say the least.

Next Game: Friday, January 22, 2010, vs. IND

Saturday, January 16, 2010

NFL: Divisional Weekend Predictions

My 2009 NFL Regular Season Record: 150-86 (63.5%)

My 2009 NFL Playoff Record: 1-3 (25.0%)

Arizona Cardinals (10-6) @ New Orleans Saints (13-3)

My Prediction: Cards 34, Saints 31

Baltimore Ravens (9-7) @ Indianapolis Colts (14-2)

My Prediction: Ravens 10, Colts 27

Dallas Cowboys (11-5) @ Minnesota Vikings (12-4)

My Prediction: Cowboys 21, Vikings 24

New York Jets (9-7) @ San Diego Chargers (13-3)

My Prediction: Jets 17, Chargers 24

Friday, January 8, 2010

NFL: Wild Card Weekend Predictions

My 2009 NFL Regular Season Record: 150-86 (63.5%)

My 2009 NFL Playoff Record: 0-0

New York Jets (9-7) @ Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

My Prediction: Jets 20, Bengals 24

Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) @ Dallas Cowboys (11-5)

My Prediction: Eagles 20, Cowboys 27

Baltimore Ravens (9-7) @ New England Patriots (10-6)

My Prediction: Ravens 17, Patriots 30

Green Bay Packers (11-5) @ Arizona Cardinals (10-6)

My Prediction: Packers 24, Cardinals 10

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pistons Finish Decade on a Flat Note

The 2000’s certainly was a decade to remember for the Pistons and Piston fans, but the way it concluded was very much forgettable. With a 98-87 defeat to the Chicago Bulls, the Pistons’ losing streak was extended to 9 games, their longest since the 1993-94 season.

All the losses aside, things looked really bleak when the Pistons suffered not one, but two ankle injury scares in the first half against Chicago. First, Big Ben turned his ankle and had to be taken out of the game, but just 3 minutes later Stuckey awkwardly turned his left ankle trying to catch an outlet pass and he fell to the ground writhing and turning in pain. At first look, this injury appeared to be serious; Stuckey would be out for several games at the very least. He would later re-aggravate the injury late in the second quarter, but again, Stuckey returned in the 2nd half and played Derrick Rose to a stall… 22 points on 50% shooting, 6 assists and 4 steals. Not bad for a guy who admitted to playing through a lot of pain.

"It hurt a lot -- it always does when you sprain your ankle -- and then it just gave out on me the second time," Stuckey said. "I was going to play though it if I could even walk, though, because we need to get something going.”

Stuckey was just about the only bright spot in yet another loss where the Pistons were thoroughly dominated in the second half, having never held a lead and losing by as much as 20 at one point. There have been some disturbing trends in this 9 game losing streak.

By the Numbers

  • The Pistons 9 game losing streak is the longest since a 13 game skid in 1994
  • The Pistons have lost by an average of 13.2 points in the streak
  • The Pistons are averaging 85.7 points during the stretch; not scoring 100 once.
  • In the 3 games back, Hamilton is shooting 13 for 54 (24%)

Going Forward

Well, where do the Pistons go from here? Despite the 9 game losing streak, the Pistons are still right in the playoff race (2.5 games out of the 8th seed) in the woeful eastern conference. Right now, the Pistons just need to get the young guns (Daye, Jerebko, Summers) as much playing time as possible, but with Prince and Hamilton back, Jerebko figures to be the only one to get consistent playing time, which is unfortunate. This season should be about developing the young guys, NOT overplaying the veterans.

Many Piston fans (like myself) are enamored with the idea of getting rid of our big contracts (Prince, Hamilton, Maxiell) and trading them away for Tracy McGrady, upon hearing of his disapproval of his playing time in Houston. The Pistons motivation for acquiring McGrady is pretty simple - the $23 million dollar expiring contract that would make Detroit players in the 2010 free agent market, which is loaded with top end free agents (LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson, Bosh). And while that article says the Rockets would be willing to take on a long term contract, is an aging shooting guard like Hamilton really that enticing to a team like Houston? They could just sit McGrady for the rest of the year and keep that $23 million dollar expiring contract and they’ll probably get much more with that money in free agency than they could in a trade for McGrady – certainly more than the Pistons can offer.

I am a big supporter of getting rid of both Hamilton and Prince. Hamilton is hurting the team on the court and his contract will prevent us from contending anytime soon. He has to go. Prince is probably more attractive to contending teams since his contract expires in another year. But I think, realistically, we can’t expect any move to be made until the trade deadline… and perhaps not until the summer. But this team seems poised to set themselves up for a nice lottery pick. Hopefully Dumars puts it to better use than the last time the Pistons drafted in the lottery.

This will be a long and painful season. Rebuilding usually is.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pistons hold of Sixers; Stuckey puts on a show

This game was supposed to be all about Iverson, but Stuckey stole the show with his best game of the year. This game was a tight affair throughout, won by the Pistons on a fade away baseline jumper by Rodney Stuckey with 8 seconds remaining. The loss extended the Sixers losing streak to 11 games and the Pistons extended their own 3 game winning streak (and 4 wins in 5 games).

Here are the three keys to the Pistons win…

  • The “Hot Rod” show: Rodney Stuckey is turning the corner. Since Atkins was inserted into the starting lineup and thus moving Stuckey to the two guard spot, Stuckey has flourished, averaging 22 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds on 46% shooting (and leading the Pistons to a 4-1 record). Stuckey just seems to play so much better playing off the ball, relieved of the duties of bringing the ball up the court and getting everyone into their sets.

Stuckey was simply spectacular in this game, putting up his best game of the season. He started it out by scoring the first basket of the game for Detroit, badly crossing Iverson over on this play (0:21 mark), causing Iverson to stumble back on his ass, while he calmly suck the mid range jumper. That was hardly all he did though. Stuckey went on to score 28 points, with 8 dimes and 5 boards. Stuckey started this game out very aggressive, attacking the rim and drawing fouls. But as the game progressed, Stuckey hit the likes of Jerebko, Maxiell and others for open jumpers off of down screens.

After getting blocked by Iguodala on a drive to the rim, Stuckey recovered the ball and put up a fading baseline jumper for the winning score with 8 seconds remaining. It’s worth noting that Stuckey not only had to deal with containing Iguodala on the defensive end, but he also had to do most of his damage against an all NBA defender in Iguodala. Stuckey did catch a bit of a break when he got picked off on an Elton Brand screen, leaving Iguodala wide open for a game winning three pointer, but he bricked it badly and Stuckey made two free throws to seal the win.

  • Strong Second Half: After a lackluster first half, Jerebko was really the difference in the second half. He scored all 17 of his points in the second half, while holding Thaddeus Young to 11 points on 4 for 14 shooting (2 points I nthe 2nd half) and he also grabbed 10 boards. Jerebko had one of the key plays of the game, up-faking a charging Iverson and nailing a wide open jumper to give the Pistons an 84-82 lead with 1:49 left.

  • Iverson Stink Fest: While maybe its too early to say that Iverson can’t be a productive player anymore, he sure looked awful out on the floor tonight. Bad defense and low percentage scoring is par for the course for Allen Iverson, but missing wide open layups like he did last night could be a sign that it’s really time for him to just leave the sport. He does not have the same explosion and quickness to the basket that he once had and that is obvious to anyone that has watched him the last couple years.

Here are the bad plays, no scratch that… embarrassing plays that stand for Iverson in this game.

1. Stuckey putting Iverson on his ass with a sick cross over dribble

2. Iverson airmailing a wide open 15 footer

3. Iverson bricking a layup that missed the rim completely

Iverson was brought in to sell tickets… not to win games. And alas, after selling out Iverson’s first game back against Denver, only 12,000+ showed up for this game.

Just sayin.

Next Game: vs. Denver Nuggets, 7:30, Fri. Dec 10th