Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

Kurt —  November 17, 2009

Andrew Bynum of the Los Angeles
Records: Lakers 7-3 Pistons 5-5
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 104.5 (18th in league), Pistons 106.8 (14th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 102.5 (10th in league) Pistons 104.7 (15th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Pistons: Rodney Stuckey , Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Ben Wallace, Jonas Jerebko

The Lakers Coming in: Let me do my best Hawkeye impersonation with today’s M*A*S*H* update (picture me with a martini glass filled with bathtub gin): Luke Walton is out six week with a pinched nerve in his back. This hurts our depth — to me Walton is a solid NBA player. He is not spectacular, but he does one thing very well (pass, the second unit’s motion is much better with him in there) and he is a decent shooter and can defend bigger bodied players pretty well. From where I sit he is what he is paid — right at the league average. But he fits the Lakers system well and fits well in the locker room. Those aren’t little things. With him out, the second unit needs to work on moving and passing more.

Kobe Bryant practiced yesterday and will play tonight, a surprise to… nobody. This is Kobe. Pau Gasol also practiced yesterday and may return against the Bulls Thursday or maybe Sunday. Although, at this point until I see him on the court I’m not betting on anything.

On a separate note, Kevin Ding had the best article I’ve read so far this season on the Lakers start and issues.

They have not held themselves to a gold standard from within. They are not particularly motivated and they are not actively seeking opportunities to make immediate improvement.

There is Pau Gasol’s injury return at some point, there is Ron Artest’s full indoctrination coming and there is plenty of time. True, true and true. No question that the Lakers can be the NBA’s best team at the end, because the standings now certainly can’t be believed with paper-thin Phoenix lording above all others.

The point is that that the Lakers haven’t been committed to ongoing excellence right now – or even committed to playing offense from the inside out. Whether you call it mental weakness or complacency or human nature, it has already happened.

Along those same lines, the Brothers K get Fisher talking about the Lakers offensive woes and get some good insight.

The Pistons Coming in: Kwame Brown’s back in town. I just dropped a ball in honor of his return.

As banged up as the Lakers are, the Pistons have it worse. Tayshaun Prince is out for a while with a ruptured disc in his back, and Rip Hamilton will miss the game (and many more) with a sprained ankle.

This Piston team is dramatically different looking than last year’s version. There is the addition by subtraction by ditching Allen Iverson. Then they went out and spent $85 million on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva — both of whom have played well so far. Maybe not $85 million well, but well. Gordon is giving the Pistons a solid 22 points a game with a 57% True Shooting Percentage. Villanueva is giving them 17 points a game at the same shooting percentage, but just four rebounds a contest.

Dumars has taken a lot of heat for what he spent on those two, but to me it looks like he was trying to build a team in the mode of 2004 — a lot of good players that mesh instead of one great one. It just becomes much harder to make that work with Prince and Hamilton out, now you are asking Gordon and Villanueva to carry the load. That is a lot for them.

Rodney Stuckey handles the ball at the point, and he is a player I just enjoy watching. That said, he is not now nor has he ever been a great shooter, which is one reason the fans love Will Bynum off the bench, that and his numbers are just better across the board. Bynum is much more the type of player that gives the Lakers fits, he is very quick and he is their spark plug. And, he is like Shannon Brown in that he comes off the bench but is the best dunker on his team.

One other thing — Ben Wallace is playing like the Ben Wallace that was good in Detroit the first time around. Don’t think he’s just a pushover (like he was last year).

Blogs and Links: For Pistons info, check out Piston Powered, and Need 4 Sheed remains a gold standard for that team.

Also, stats fans, there is an interesting article over at Hoopdata where they modify PER to better account for assisted field goals. This APER likes Kobe better, by the way.

Keys to game: While we do a lot of Xs and Os on this site, I think tonight is really more about focus, passion and execution. The Lakers have pretty much been sleepwalking lately — maybe it’s a title hangover, maybe it’s a lot of things, it doesn’t matter what it is. The Lakers need to find their competitive edge again, Phil Jackson realizes the team needs to find that for itself, and he is letting the players find their way. Hopefully those two losses last week help speed the process. Especially because even with the injuries, the Pistons can win this game if the Lakers slack off.

Detroit plays at the slowest pace in the league, and they have the fewest assisted baskets in the league. Which is to say — welcome to 1990s isolation offense. Tonight will be about man-to-man defense and the bigs making good defensive rotations. Both things lacking against Houston.

Also, the Lakers should be able to run and get some transition buckets tonight.

When the Lakers do go into the post with the ball on offense, watch the Lakers spacing outside. When the double has come there has not been great options for the man passing out of the post, and the person who gets that first pass has often not had someone in position for that extra pass to get an open look. The Lakers need to get back to that.

Detroit will go to a three-guard lineup at times when Bynum comes in, and they count on teams not being able to match that quickness. The Lakers need to make them pay by posting up Kobe on offense some when this happens, but this will be there biggest team defensive test of the night.

This game features two of the worst teams in the NBA so far this season on the defensive glass — both teams are giving up a ton of offensive boards, which is leading to second chance points. If one team can clean that up, if one team puts in the effort to rebound, they will have a big advantage.

Where you can watch: This game tips off at 7:30 pm Pacific, on Fox Sports television and ESPM 710 on radio.



59 responses to Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

  1. For Warren and Kwame.

  2. By the way, it’s not just Lakers fans ripping their team up. Boston fans have been as harsh or harsher, and now a bunch of Orlando fans want to trade Jameer Nelson. Meanwhile, Phil keeps coaching for the playoffs.

  3. I’m so glad Mitch Kupchak is 10 million times more patient than the average Lakers fan (I include myself in this group).

  4. Great article, Kurt.

    I have a question that maybe you or some others can answer for me b/c there are just some things I’ll never understand about the triangle offense.

    But watching the Bulls of the 90s and watching the early 2000s Lakers and current Lakers (2007-present), I rarely remember watching the Bulls struggle to understand the concepts of spacing, offensive rebounding, cutting, etc. that are associated with the triangle offense. I think article expresses the sentiments of many on this site: That watching the current Lakers adjustment and learning period is frustrating.

    But what do you think made that period a little easier to digest in Chicago?

    Superior talent? I can’t say it was superior talent b/c this current squad has better interior talent than both the Bulls and 2000s squads (IMO).

    Ever-changing components? I can’t say that it was integrating new players into the system b/c all the teams did that (Ron Harper-Bulls and early Lakers; Rodman; Kukoc; Brian Shaw; Rick Fox, etc.).

    Were those players more intelligent or “basketball-smart”?

    Were they more focused to minimize the learning process?

    Did they have better player leadership?

    Now I know the 90s Bulls and the 2000 Lakers had rough games (I specifically remember the 72-win Bulls losing to the crappy Raptors that year). But I just wanted to get some other opinions on this b/c it has bugged me since the 2007-2008 season (probably after one of those Bobcat games).

  5. What does everybody think about Stephen Jackson on the Bobcats? Will we ever beat that team?

  6. I think this article justifies my missing Radmanovich from earlier today better than I can (though the person who said I really missed Ariza is also right on):

  7. The Fisher link doesn’t seem to be working for me?

  8. That article put things into perspective for me. I’ve been too hard on the Lakers.

  9. Larry Brown’s probably going to run Stephen Jackson out of Charlotte by season’s end.

  10. I may have been wrong about something from the last comment thread: The Lakers have reached out to Tony Gaffney’s agent about possibly coming to the team. However, they are trying to save money and Gaffney has a deal in Israel for the season, if there is a buyout that could hamper a deal. I would guess it is unlikely but there has been a conversation.

  11. that article is right about kobe’s post game, if fish, sasha, jordan and co arent consistenly hitting 3’s the offence is going to struggle.

  12. Kurt: Are the Lakers always on the hook for Gaffney’s buyout? I mean, what if Gaffney negotiates a buyout himself (with no payment from the Lakers) in order to pursue his dream of playing the NBA. Would such a deal be part of the Lakers’ cap regardless of who is paying the buyout?

  13. If he can work that kind of deal, it would be great. But, I think we can safely assume the Lakers are offering a 10-day contract, maybe he can make that into two of those. But do you give up a bigger contract in Israel for 20 days then need to find a job again? I don’t think the Lakers are going to take on more salary long term, stuff that would cost them when the tax bill comes (and if they do I don’t think it will be for a project like Gaffney).

  14. FWIW, ESPN’s Chris Sheridan wrote an article earlier this morning on available free agents, and Stackhouse is apparently giddy about the prospect of playing for the Lakers. The LA Times blog has the quote below:

  15. I have killed several previous Stackhouse comments already. I am allowing this one only to put the link out there. But THIS IS NOT GOING TO BECOME A WE SHOULD/SHOULDN’T GET STACKHOUSE DISCUSSION.

    He wants a job, and he and his agent are going to jockey for jobs. Him saying he wants to play for the Lakers is a long way from the Lakers paying a pretty steep tax price (even at the Vets minimum) to bring him in. When we hear the Lakers are talking to him I will open this conversation up, but if we started talking about every player who says he wants to play for the Lakers then that is pretty much every guy in the NBA.

  16. All title contenders have three loses, unless you consider Phoenix and the Hawks as title contenders, no need to worry about home court advantage at this point of the season. Hit our open jumpers and move the ball on offense should help a little.

    Watching Gonzaga handle Mich. St. so far. Think I just saw Shannon take off his warmups on State bench.

  17. Kurt, you probably have better knowledge of this than me but I remember reading that Gaffney had an NBA opt-out. Which would be free. Of course my memory could be wrong.

  18. Gerrit, I don’t know if he has an NBA opt out. That would have been a smart thing to get, but I don’t know. I’m not at the game tonight, I will be Thursday and may get more info about that.

  19. Sore, exhausted, stressed… the Lakers owe me a win tonight, I need cheering up! 🙂

    Kurt, thanks for the link to Fisher’s comments, that has already cheered me up and made me feel a great deal better about the season so far. It’s so easy to forget that we were fumbling and flailing as badly last November as we are now. Oh, and we need to start a petition to have Fisher added to the coaching staff when he retires.

  20. I hear Mitch Richmond is looking for work too…

  21. I’d love it if all of these aging Vets who are still burning to play somehow managed to start their own team. Patrick Ewing could coach them. That way all of these media-generated trade rumors about players on the decline could just go away. They could call Alcatraz home, that way JR Rider would feel at home.

  22. any links to the game?

  23. For links, try this one:

    Let us know if it works. 🙂

  24. Kobe has the leg injury as well, but I think there is something wrong with his hands as well.

    I know that he has (comparatively) small hands, but even for Kobe he has had terrible handles for the last few games. The airball at the beginning can be explained by legs, but his overall care of the ball, and shooting touch on both layups and jumpers, point to a hand problem.

    Wonder if the finger is bothering him, or even worse, is progressing to a palm strain of some sort?

  25. kobe no where near 100%

  26. KB getting stripped from the help on his post moves. He needs to realize where the help is coming from.

  27. Wow. The first pass to him in the post, and Kwame immediately drops it out of bounds. That sums up the entire Kwame Brown era in a single play… But we did get Pau Gasol when we traded him, so I guess it wasn’t all bad?

    On a game-related note, I still don’t get a feeling that they’re playing together as a team. It still looks confused and lacking in communication and cohesion on both offense and defense.

  28. This links working for me. Its a little choppy but my connection has been slow tonight so it might just be my connection.

  29. Farmar has been looking really good.

  30. for the love of god joel there is another way to describe a play then “game”

  31. Lakers have grabbed 33% of the rebounds on their missed shots so far. That is a good sign.

  32. I think a highlight video of Kwame dropping passes should be compiled as an answer for anyone who brings up Kobe’s selfishness and lack of desire to pass in the 05 -07 seasons.

    Jordan is playing fantastic tonight. If he could be even be half this consistent, that would go a long way to solving the bench woes.

  33. Joey Jo-Jo Shabadoo November 17, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Thanks for the link Gerrit. One of the links on the page worked for me.

  34. Okay, what was the hang-time on that shot by Kobe? Six seconds?

  35. Only following on the play-by-play, seems like Kobe is in Mamba mode in the second quarter. True?

  36. That slo mo replay of that running over the shoulder half hook in the lane by Kobe made that shot look even more impressive.

  37. @themojojedi,
    Not quite true Mamba mode, but he’s definitely feeling it tonight.

    And now he’s sitting. Third foul.

  38. no sasha tonight, i think phil has had it with him

  39. 40, Sasha has relitively been better than his usual self the last few games. So if anything, i think its more of kobe heating up and shannon is constantly the better 2 guard which leaves sasha minuteless. (liking the edit system)

  40. Interesting lineup by PJ. Fish, SB and Kobe all in together.

  41. everyone else notice how shy fish has been with shooting, passing on open looks really helping the offence

  42. I don’t want to gush, but seriously…wow. There is no one in the league like #24. No one.

  43. Kobe is pretty much schooling Gordon right now…

  44. This isn’t about Stack as a FA, but about the guy’s interview. Is it just me, or did Stack’s words come across a little odd?

    “Uhh….Kobe’s really great….sometimes he says hi to me when he doesn’t say hi to Antoine Wright and JJ Barea….(although I don’t think anyone says hi to JJ Barea)…..and he knows I run hard….I’m pretty sure he likes me….he even calls me by my nickname….”

    Reminds me of that nerd in high school who suddenly thinks he has a shot at the hottest girl in the school when she smiles at him once in the hallway.

  45. Man this game is entertaining

  46. that would have been the best poster dunk ever but ended up being an amazing block

  47. I was very aware of Pau Gasol in that clip.

  48. Kobe’s making me wonder if he wants the 100th 40gm. more than a commanding W’ right now. I hate watching our 2nd unit blow huge leads… Hate It!

  49. Kobe with the late 3 to reach 40 pts for the 100th time!

  50. mmm, another 40pt game…

    but I really think we should force him to rest a bit when Pau comes back in…

  51. kobe gettin it as nonchalant as it comes. I thought he was playing 21′ or horse’ when he shot that 3 for his 100th 40pt’er. It sucks the starters had to come in to finish the game but I am glad that we finished in double digits w/ tacos. congrats Kobe.

  52. I didn’t see the game, but it’s a little disappointing to hear that Kwame was booed by the crowd throughout the game.

    He may have hands like egg-beaters, but it’s not like he ever quit on the team, and to be fair it wasn’t exactly his fault he was taken number 1.

    I may be alone here, but I have far more disdain for guys who can play but have pea-hearts *cough* Elden Campbell. As Robert De Niro says in A Bronx Tale, there’s nothing worse than wasted talent…

  53. It is weird how Kobe played good against guard that is smaller than him but suffer when bigger guard defend him. Guess he did lose his speed, maybe it is just me.

  54. Kobe has always had more trouble with longer people guarding him – remember Bruce Bowen. Of course, all that is relative because sometimes he went over 30 on these people too, but sometimes he had bad games.

  55. Just finished watching the game and wow, Kobe gets his 100th, 40 point game. The day after I was saying his FG% was just going to get worse or no better than the last two games of 32%, because of the groin injury. I just ate crow tonight and enjoyed it… Great, I should have known by now, that KB24 is not human, he is the Mamba, a killer. Gasol will be back, heck, I should never even have worried about HCA the last couple of days, I guess. I just saw the worst situation coming around and it did not. Shannon Brown our ShanWOW, is just looking better and better as the season progresses, everytime I looked up he was slamming a dunk down, from like three feet above the rim, like usual for him.