Something to keep in all of our back pockets for a day like today. We are the hunted, we are the marquee team, and we are the date circled on the calendar. Until this game we were the best team in the NBA and even with this loss we are still the second best team. As long as we are a top 5 team every single team we face will be ďUPĒ for us. There will be no off nights for our club and we will most likely get the best every team has to offer.
This is both a beautiful thing and a burden but it is reality, so while our team (like any team) is bound to have ďone of those nightsĒ like we did tonight, the opponents are not going to suffer that very often against us.
I say all of that to say this; we canít all be lining up to jump off of the big bank building downtown after every loss to a team with a lesser record. Itís going to happen, you just have to hope it doesnít happen very often and you certainly donít want it happening at home more than a couple of occasions but it will happen.
Iím not making excuses mind you nor am I overly thrilled with tonightís performance but under no circumstance am I going to offer up any ideas of changing the lineup or the roster all because we just lost to a team that actually took the best (record wise anyway) team in the league to overtime and then beat the second best team on their own court.
Do not sleep on Detroit. They are not a championship caliber team but Iím telling you I donít want to see them in the playoffs. They are every bit as big as we are across the front line and if they are not stronger then IMO they are at least equally strong. I have never been a Jennings fan but he certainly plays much smarter for Cheeks than he ever did up for the Bucks and sadly he certainly outplayed his counter part tonight.
So while we did not have a great game a lot of that had to do with the way the Pistons were playing defense and most importantly the way they absolutely dominated the glass which was beyond embarrassing to watch.
So while I will cast a critical eye towards our local heroís do not mistake that as disrespect for what the Pistons accomplished tonight, they were ready to play and took us out of the game right from the start.
Before the game started I knew Roy was going to have a hard night on offense. In the pre game warm ups he was missing point blank hook shots without other players even guarding him. Iím not talking about one or two Iím talking about one time he put the ball up from four different spots on the floor (3 hooks & 1 jumper) and he missed all three hooks and banked in the jumper. Hey, it happens. We donít like it happening but it does happen. But what killed me was his just overall lack of presence and sadly I hate to say it but if you go back and look at Royís post game reaction from our first win in Detroit it became apparent to everyone (including Andre Drummond) that Andre Drummond was in Royís head with his trash talking. Roy didnít like it and made the cardinal sin of making that public. So what is the first thing that happens tonight? Drummond jumps to the moon to slam back a missed shot on the first play of the game and immediately tells Roy all about it. Roy never recovered, even though Drummond was out of the game early due to foul trouble, you could see Royís face and demeanor were never the same. He never got position for his shot, he never was able to get rebounding position and defensively he was just off all night.
If there is any one thing that I do take away from the game, which really isnít much from this game but itís more of an accumulation from a lot of our recent games, is that we have got to stop spotting teams a lead in the first half and then have to depend on huge second halves to save us. While our defense is superb, generally, our offense is at best scary and when our weapons are not hitting we really struggle to get anything going and as was proven tonight we canít just trade baskets and hope to win.
While I almost never criticize Frank because he is an absurdly good coach I do question two decisions he made tonight. In the 4th quarter you were brought back into the game by Luis Scola, unless Luis was ready to drop over (which he sure did not look gassed to me) why on Godís green earth did he take him out of the game. He was tearing up the Pistons with his mid range sniper game. If you felt you needed West back in the game, take out Roy who was giving us nothing.
My other question is really more of a philosophical thing & I know a lot of coachís donít believe in doing it but to me it just makes sense. When Lance hit that three to bring us to two why not foul Andre Drummond on purpose? He was still in the game and there is no way in hell he would have hit 2 free throws, he might have hit 1 but no way would he have hit 2.
Again I know that most coachís donít do the ďhack aĒ method for principle but dag nab it sometimes it works and you have to go to it.
It was a scary game going into it because of what I said before about getting teams best every night and frankly we have just looked sluggish the past couple of games.
I donít know what to think about the game Wednesday in Miami.
Letís do grades.
Paul George: C+ That may be a harsh grade but I donít want people to look at his stat line tonight and pretend that he had a good game, he did not. Not only was he not hitting shots but he was not doing a really good job on Josh Smith either. Now part of that is not his fault as we were all treated to a dose of what can be called ďGood JoshĒ (kind of like good and bad Lance) well actually for awhile in the 3rd he was ďgreat JoshĒ. But there just seemed to be something off all night about him. He got lost on a couple of drives, did not seem to be able to penetrate on offense and obviously was missing some shots that he normally makes. He settled a few times too many for my taste on jumpers instead of challenging them but I always say that.
David West: B- Meh, got worked tonight by some unknown named Harrellson in the first half. Iím just going to assume/pretend that he had never seen film of him and wasnít ready so he wonít make that mistake again. Detroit has the one front line that are all as big as David West and maybe as close in strength as he is. David wasnít horrid but he certainly didnít set the world on fire either.
Roy Hibbert: D+ He was at least tall. Just one of those nights that thankfully we donít have to see very often. Iím hoping that maybe seeing that small front line in Miami will get him back on track before he has to face Dwight Howard on Friday.
Lance Stephenson: A+ You canít ask for anything more. This game would probably have been a double digit loss and never have been close if it wasnít for Lance & Luis.
George Hill: D+ Grabbed some rebounds so that is always appreciated but other than that, completely unremarkable night from him. We really suffer when he allows his player to take plays off on the defensive end because he is not even an offensive option. In other words Jennings did not have to spend a whole lot of time or energy chasing George but George sure did have to blow out the after burners to chase him. Iíd really like him to find a nice middle ground on offense and try and stick with it.
Luis Scola: A+ Again based on what he is (backup 4) you canít ask for anything more. In fact the only thing more that could have been asked would have been for the coach and not him, in other words he should have played more.
C.J. Watson: B+ Solid backup point guard. In fact tonight I would have preferred him to play some more minutes as I thought he was far more aggressive on both ends of the floor. Scola gets most of the press and most of the accolades (deservedly so) but I think adding Watson to our group is of equal importance to our team. In years past he would easily have been our best point guard but now we have the luxury of having him come off of the bench.
Rasual Butler: B He is the type of player that title contending teams always seem to have. A savvy veteran who can still on occasion get the job done. Everybody wants youth and the excitement it brings but when you are going for the big prize you want a veteran who can come in, get to his spot and hit his shot while still able to defend. Butler has done that for that past two games & Iím glad Frank is giving him the chance.
Ian Mahinmi: C You know all things considered the fact that he wasnít abused from end line to end line has to be taken as a victory. He didnít do anything good but he didnít do anything bad either so Iíll just give him a C
Orlando Johnson: D The grade of D is not so much for his performance tonight but more along the lines of me seeing the D league in his near future. His shot is gone and you can tell every single time he goes up for his shot that he is now thinking about it which leads to a slight hesitation in his release. Donít know what went wrong or where but he has really blown a very big opportunity here as he could have secured all of or at least most of the backup wing positions early in the season.
Now as to the last part I donít want to make to big of a deal of but I would be remiss if I didnít say something. Because I certainly have reported it in the past when other players have done it on past teams so itís only fair to bring up when these guys do it.
Lance and Paul got into a shouting match with each other on the bench tonight. It was over an offensive possession early in the 4th (I think) but it was pretty heated for a few min. (coaching staff in their pre huddle huddle away from the players). I couldnít tell who started it or what they were saying but it looked pretty bad for a few seconds there.
Now there did not seem to be any long lasting effect and they both spoke many times after this tiff civilly so I am defiantly going to write it off as a heat of the moment combat thing. But it did happen so while Iím not concerned at all it still is worth noting.
Again I want to restate my feelings from the start. Itís a loss, a home loss at that but still just a loss. We shake it off and move on to the next one and donít give this a second thought.
In honor of our victors from Detroit we shall hear from Detroit native Bob Segar.