Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

Kurt —  December 20, 2009

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Records: Lakers 21-4 (1st in West) Pistons 11-15 (7th in East)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 108.2 (13th in league), Pistons 106.2 (18th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 99.2 (1st in league) Pistons 108.4 (19th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Pistons: Chucky Atkins, Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, Jason Maxiell, Ben Wallace

The Lakers Coming in: Don’t disrespect your opponents. Don’t disrespect the game.

The Lakers did not respect their opponents for the first half last night, figuring they could roll past the Nets whether or not they moved their feet on screens, made the right cuts or generally hustled all out. The coaching staff disrespected the opponents by having Adam Morrison as the second guy off the bench and DJ Mbenga in early, theoretically be cause LA could still win easy they could rest their starters on the front end of a back to back.

And the Lakers were down at halftime.

The Lakers pulled away in the third and made a big run in the fourth with the bench guys in. Most importantly, the Lakers got the win, but it did cost them a chance to rest the starters — Kobe, Gasol and Artest all played plenty of minutes.

The one starter who didn’t was Andrew Bynum, who was in foul trouble again. Silver Screen and Roll has a post up about this worth reading.

Look, big men can fall prey to fluky whistles sometimes. There’s a lot of grappling in the paint, and some nights amid the scrum the refs tag you with a foul or three you didn’t really deserve. I get that. Drew does, though, get caught flat-footed and slow to rotate more than he should. His D on the whole has been better than many in our game threads give him credit for, but it hasn’t been good here in mid-December. Too many times, he gets beat and then to prevent the layup clobbers a guy from behind. His discipline, attentiveness and technique need to get better.

The Pistons Coming in: Not only are the Pistons still without Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton, but now you can add Ben Gordon to the injured list and he is a game time decision. Tough to win much with your three best players on the bench, hence things like the current three-game losing streak.

Rodney Stuckey has been scoring a lot, 31 a couple nights ago, but the coach John Kuester has had frustrations with him getting others involved, and his defensive game. One place the Pistons have been getting great play is from Charlie Villanueva, who is getting space down on the block then shooting 68% when he does. Also, Will Bynum is the kind of spark plug every team wants off the bench, even if he needs to improve his shooting.

Keys to game: We will see how the Lakers are feeling physically, they got out of Newark last night, then skipped morning shoot around. (They are doing better than the beat reporters, who have to fly commercial, and will not make the game due to the storm out east.) The good news is the Pistons play at the second slowest pace in the league, so they are not going to run the Lakers out of the building. (The slowest? Portland.)

What the Pistons did with success against the Lakers last meeting was creating mismatches, the Lakers switched on some screens and ended up with matchups like Artest on the quicker Stuckey, then he Pistons did a good job recognizing and isolated. The Lakers need to be more aware and get something they got little of last time — weakside help.

The other things the Lakers gave up was layups on a simple little handoff/rub action. Again the Lakers got caught without some weakside help.

The Lakers still one that game handily, and they did so in part because the Pistons had no answer for Gasol and Bynum working together in the high low. The Lakers need Bynum to show up tonight, to carry some offensive load. Kobe will get his, they have nobody who can defend him (look for the more athletic Jerebko to get the call, but do you really want a rookie on Kobe?).

What hurt the Lakers in that game was too much freelancing, something that always tends to hurt them. With tired legs, the Lakers need to go with what works and not try to freelance and take on more than they should.

This is going to be a close one folks.

Where you can watch: This game is on Channel 9 here in Los Angels starting at 3, and also is on ESPN 710 radio.



76 responses to Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

  1. the other stephen December 20, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Warren says, “let’s have a jolly good win, folks!”

  2. I don’t see how it’s going to be close, even being as biased as I may appear to be. Without there best players, the Pistons are going to have trouble scoring points. I think the Lakers will go early and often to the “well rested” Bynum and I think he knows that. The Pistons don’t have anyone who can guard him (Wallace, Kwame, Wilcox and MAYBE Maxiell), but Bynum should be able to see clearly over the top of their heads…I expect nothing less than 20 and 10 from him tonight, as I think Phil does too…

  3. Ahhh, finally I have a day off from work and don’t have to watch another game of this road trip on Tivo. And my roommate is out of town so I don’t have to switch back and forth between the NFL Ticket. Right after I hit “submit” I’m cracking a beer and enjoying an uninterrupted afternoon of Lakers Basketball (right after the Texans keep me alive in my survivor league, hopefully). Yay me, Go Lakers.

    The Lakers were definitely lethargic in the first half last night, but part of finding your way through the season is managing games and stretches of games. Yes, the Nets played well during that Laker yawn, but if Ammo and DJ had been effective then it would have been viewed as solid strategy against a vastly inferior team on the first night of a back-to-back. I viewed it as an opportunity for the Lakers to try some things out (which admittedly wouldn’t happen against a fully respected opponent), an opportunity which was perhaps squandered when many of the players took liberties to freelance and explore their own games rather than work on the team flow. That and the Nets weren’t having it, which was nice to see since it woke the Lakers up which resulted in some smooth offensive sets and lockdown defense in the 2nd half. Still, I would love to see the team explore the triangle a little deeper than they have been this season, there’s so much talent that it always just ends up going into the post against some mismatch. Nothing wrong with that, but the beauty of the triangle are the easy baskets that come from running it well, not just the opportunities it creates for individual Lakers to manhandle their respective defender from strong positions on the floor. Nitpicking? Yes, but in watching a game like last night’s, my mind just drifted to what the Lakers could glean for the long term.

    Anyway, beer…

  4. Most agreed a 4-1 or 5-0 trip was to be expected. Let’s close out the trip with a win and then get ready for a very improved Thunder. Go Lakers!

  5. DET are 2nd in the league in ORB%. Stuckey and W. Bynum are capable of getting into paint and causing havoc. The Lakers are on the 2nd night of a back-to-back.

    I would not be surprised to see LA lose this one, but I would really be encouraged if LA can take this one.

  6. dave in hillsboro December 20, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Off topic, but I wonder who is going to replace the Kam Bros at the Times, if the Times keeps the Lakers Blog going after today.

    For those that haven’t heard, the Kam Bros are moving to ESPN LA.

  7. I should note that Gasol did not play in the first game against Detroit.

  8. urgh, I liked the AK BK brothers, but if they move to ESPN, they may lose that touch…

    Gamewise, I’m curious to see how Bynum responds.

  9. Following lakerade’s comments, perhaps the Lakers’ coaches were insulting the Nets a little bit but I don’t feel that the lakers were disrespectful in the sense that they were still playing the game, still running their offense, and most importantly still trying to improve. Putting Ammo and DJ in makes sense to me because the Lakers’ bench has not been a point of strength this year. If the Lakers are going to go deep into the playoffs, the second and third string guys need to know they can perform. All great teams have a supporting cast that knows its role and can perform under pressure. If the bench players get no experience this year, there is a chance the Lakers won’t get those breaks they need in the playoffs.

    While I understand the sentiment, I also feel that it’s been proven in the league that long term planning sometimes means sacrificing short term goals. Even if the Lakers were to lose to the Nets last night, the Lakers would still know they are the better team and the bench players got some nice burn. In the end, I think putting the bench in positions where they can succeed is only going to pay dividends later on down the road. and if the lakers can get wins while doing so, even better.

    • Nomuskles, you make good points. I still think if you take lightly any team in the league you are in trouble, and the Lakers did that last night.

      Harold, the Brothers Kamentetzky are going to ESPNLosAngeles, but they will be doing the exact same thing. You should keep reading them.

  10. Let’s hope this isn’t a real snoozer like last night.

  11. any streams for tonights game?

    • Dribble penetration killing the Lakers early.

    • A lot of people want to have Kobe defend other team’s quick point guards, but what just happened to Stuckey is the risk. A good guard knows how to get fouls on another guard, Kobe just knocked the Pistons leading scorer out of the rest of the first quarter.

  12. Regarding all the subs in the first half, a lot of that was either due to Drew’s foul trouble, or Luke’s injury. Phil tried to stick Ammo in at backup SF instead of Kobe, on the first night of a back to back. Sure, the play got choppy, but they blew the Nets out in the 2nd half. My only problem was Phil leaving Pau out on the court from the six-minute mark to the three-minute mark in the 4th quarter, with a 23-point lead.

  13. Wow…Lakers going small with Ron Ron at PF, Kobe at SF, Pau at C, Jordy and Sasha in the backcourt. Prompted by Lamar’s foul trouble. Also, this game reminds me of the Milwaukee game, with the Lakers in a parade to the FT line.

  14. Wow, nice shot by Kobe after the missed FT!

  15. Check for blood Pau!

  16. I love how active Gasol is on the boards and fighting for rebounds

  17. Great to see Kwame up to his old tricks. That was a perfect pass by Will Bynum that he fumbled.

  18. I love watching Kwame when he’s on the other team. I’ve never been more happy to see the ball being passed to Kwame. It’s a nice advantage to have.

  19. See, Shannon should pass that one behind for the easy two points as opposed to trying to get into the Dunk Contest.

  20. lots and lots of free throws

  21. ah kwame cant say i miss you

  22. For all the “ref manipulation” that Kobe does, he’s always at the top of the league in techs…

  23. 25. Kwame trying to catch passes for the other team just gives me a warm feeling inside.

    29. Yes, and that was a dumb tech by Kobe. I imagine that when your team has a 21-1 FT advantage, the refs aren’t going to take kindly to such a demonstrative objection to one of their calls.

  24. anyone with a NON freedocast link?

    • I fear jinxing this, but the second unit is running the offense.

      One other thing: At Staples the Lakers might roll the Pistons from here, but at the Palace they will make at least one more run. Teams don’t quit at home.

  25. Wow…that’s the highest I’ve seen Drew jump all season. 😀
    Edit: I meant the rebound dunk, not the block ten seconds later.

  26. LOL at Joel for ripping Drew for letting Kwame draw a foul on him with a pump fake. “Andrew, it’s Kwame!” And now Drew is on the bench with an expression on his face like “I can’t believe I fell for one of Kwame’s pump fakes.”

  27. Interesting that the moment Jordan Farmar goes back to the bench, Kobe comes in and directs the offense immediately resulting in an easy dunk for Bynum.

    Frankly, I’m not at all convinced about Farmar. I think he’s playing hard for the contract, but I don’t think he “gets it” at all.

  28. It would be nice if we can keep the Pistons under 40 by the half or get them all to foul out, which ever comes first.

  29. Under 40 it is.

  30. Kurt

    Are you aware of any special incentives built into Pau’s extension? like say 20k for every pound of muscle he puts on? Would be interesting to see Mitch get a little creative w/the paperwork..

  31. big ben doing a number on pau

  32. That was pretty good defense by the Lakers to end the half. The defense on Ben at the freethrow line was especially good.

  33. 39. By “doing a number,” I think you mean shoving Pau in the back after Pau beats him baseline (no call), and screaming after he mistimed his jump and Pau got a rebound basket without even touching him (fooling the refs into calling Pau for over the back).

    40. You’re right. It seems Detroit opponents consistently play great free throw defense on Piston big men Kwame Brown and Ben Wallace. The Lakers tonight are no exception.

  34. Is it me, or does the team seem to be on cruise control?

  35. As of this moment the 13th seed in the West would be the 6th seed in the East.

    That’s an absurd disparity.

  36. OT-The Griz defeated the Nuggs in Memphis today. Neck Lips with a rebounding EPIC FAIL. Five rebounds (one offensive) in 33 minutes. Z-Bo, the guy he was guarding, had 24 rebounds (nine offensive) and 32 points. Memphis won the game by six points.

  37. Anyone have a quality link? (most likely not freedocast) Sorry for asking twice*

  38. 3 3 on 1’s in the quarter already

  39. Nonexistent transition defense and very sloppy offense so far in the 3rd. And, Kobe gets bailed out by the refs going one on two. His finger is definitely bothering him today.

  40. Also, Drew got the rare blocked shot + defensive rebound + assist combination play. Good to see the big guy step up today.

  41. To me, Morrison always looks like he’s just been startled awake.

  42. thanks james, your a life saver. 50reggyray- I just noticed that lamar looks like he is trotting like a horse when he brings the ball up the court uncontested. Both I think are weird but true.

  43. Is it just me or is Hot Rod getting interrupted like 20 times in each game?

  44. LOL…Kwame and DJ in the battle to the death for who has worse hands on rebounds.

  45. 51,

    Yes, Odom has a unique gait while dribbling, probably exaggerated by his height, in comparison to someone who would normally bring the ball down the court.


    I believe the problem with Hundley is that he has been a play-by-play guy, on the radio no less, for his broadcasting career, and consequently finds himself talking when in actuality Joel should have the floor, creating the interuption issue.

  46. This has been a brutally bad 4th.

  47. powell just lost my positive view I held for him.
    edit: lakers just pulled out win in double digits thanks too phil taking out powell and our starters

  48. Barring injury (I hate typing that), I think this has become a two team race for best record in the NBA.

  49. Artest just had 9 assists and 6 steals!

  50. powell… such an idiot. i hate that slap the ball as hard as you can mentality that lebron and dwight are so fond of. and this play wasn’t even close…

    and apparently i’m posting too soon and too often… uhh… my first post this whole day!

  51. Ron Ron had a great game for us tonight, and this was a very good road trip for us, especially since Kobe has a broken finger on his shooting hand.

  52. Shannon Brown isn’t doing a very good job of seizing the backup PG position. A number of terrible decisions on offense, plus a 1-9 night from the floor. The guys were sloppy in the 4th, but Phil was experimenting.

  53. Neither Brown nor Farmar are making a particulalry strong impression. They are getting enough minutes that we should see some consistency.

    Fortunately, we haven’t needed much from them.

    I”d still like to see more minutes for Sasha, but supposedly this Phil guy knows what he is doing, so I’ll watch and see how this plays out.

  54. Jordy’s play at PG has been a lot better than Shannon’s so far, and that’s why it’s his job this season. Today was one of his rare subpar performances in the past month.

  55. Well, that was a successful roadtrip by any standard, I say.

    Of course it was much much closer to 2-3 than 4-1, but still, it’s 4-1.

  56. One thing I noticed in the 4th quarter: Phil is starting to use the concept of minutes as an incentive to get Drew to hustle, rebound, play better defense, etc. Drew had a very solid game overall, but in the 4th quarter, one of Detroit’s guards beat his man on the right baseline for an easy layup. Both Drew and LO never left their men on the weak side to contest that layup. I think Drew must have been closer to the play, because Phil immediately subbed in DJ for him and he never got back in the game. I think there were about 7 or 8 minutes remaining, and the lead was only about 15 points. Why sub in DJ at that point other than to send Drew a message?

  57. 64. I don’t think the team was in any real danger of losing to the Bulls. Milwaukee, on the other hand? Whew.

  58. the entire bench stunk it up tonight – 6 for 27 (and that’s with LO’s 3 for 5).

  59. If the bench players were as good as our starters they would be… wait for it… starters.

    22-4 but according to a substantial amount of posters here the Lakers are horrible. Terrible PG, no Center worth anything, ball-hogging superstar, pure scrubs off of the bench, and a coach that has no grasp of the basic stuff like timeouts and player rotations…

    *shakes head*

    Good night all, and go Lakers.

  60. Bench a combined 6-27 tonight. That’s 22%.

  61. The Lakers need better and smarter play from the bench when the game is out of reach in the 4th Q so the starters do not have to come back in the game.

    Quote from PJ after the game. Though he did not mention the bench, it was directed towards them (Taco Unit members)

    “Even with the lead we had built, we still had to use our starters down the stretch to finish off the game. We’ve got to be better than this going forward.”

    If you didn’t know how lopsided the confrences are then you will have no doubts after you take a look at the current standings. After checking it out try to imagine if the lakers swapped spots with the celts or the cavs (petty nice, huh). Yes, I did notice that the south east has a descent amount of talent but it is no where near the competitive divisions of the west.

  63. Mike (38) or anyone else,

    What’s the word on Pau’s workout regimen? I remember that last year, there was a lot of attention given to Pau working out, given the result of the 2008 Finals. I know last year he worked out due to a desire not to get pushed around as much, but what about this year? I hear he’s as hungry as last year (if not more), but is he working for it? Still lifting weights? (I know he’s a beast right now, but I want to see how he does against the big dogs, like Denver, Boston, etc.)

  64. @kurt… I’d take 4-1 for any 5 game streach for the rest of the season that would put us at right around 67 wins which would almost guarantee HCA throughout.

  65. The East has 9 teams that are 4 games or more UNDER .500.

    The West only has 2 teams that are 4 games or more UNDER .500.

    So much for the revival of the Eastern Conference.

    How do you feel about the cavs this season? I kno their record isnt bad but their lookin like pretenders to me.

    Cant wait for Christmas. I hope Drew shows Shaq how much he improved from their last christmas matchup against each other.