Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

Darius Soriano —  March 6, 2012

Records: Lakers 23-14 (3rd in West), Pistons 12-26 (12th in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 103.8 (14th in NBA), Pistons 99.7 (26th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 100.9 (10th in NBA), Pistons 107.4 (25th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Pistons: Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Jason Maxiell, Greg Monroe
Injuries: Lakers: none; Pistons: Charlie Villanueva (questionable)

The Lakers Coming in: Three straight wins for the Lakers coming out of the all-star break with three very good performances from Kobe and the rest of the team. And don’t look now, but the results of those wins now has the Lakers in first place in the Pacific Division and third in the Western Conference. There’s still a lot of season left, of course, and I don’t think any team (besides the Thunder) should be too comfortable with where they sit in the standings, but the Lakers can only feel good about where they are now and use it as motivation to continue to play well.

And for what it’s worth, the Lakers are starting to believe in themselves more. As Derek Fisher said after the Heat game, “the light finally went off that we believe we can win it,” with Kobe adding that the Lakers have finally figured out what they are on offense – a post up team – that must find ways to play to their strengths more while covering up their weaknesses. Whether or not this belief in themselves can trump some of the shortcomings of the players remains to be seen. However, intangibles such as trust in each other and confidence as a group are real, and if the Lakers can channel those into being greater than the sum of their parts, they may achieve more than what many think they can.

The Pistons Coming in: Losers of 4 of their last 5 games (with the lone win over the Bobcats), the Pistons don’t have a lot going for them at the moment. They have a mismatched roster, too many overpaid veterans, and there’s really not an easy solution in sight. Crazy to think how far this team has fallen in the past decade.

That said, not everything is bleak. Greg Monroe is one of the promising young big men in the league. The 2nd year Center has a well-rounded and polished offensive game and the work ethic to improve. Rookie guard Brandon Knight has good size and has shown that he has the skill level to be an NBA starting point guard. His promotion to the starting lineup has also allowed Rodney Stuckey to move to shooting guard, removing him from the position of having to run the team full time and allowing him to be a more natural scorer. And with Lawrence Frank leading them, there’s a nucleus here that could be a solid core moving forward.

These might be baby steps in bringing this team back to respectability, but that’s often how turnarounds happen. The only hope is that Joe Dumars can find a way to better put together a roster with more young players to have the team grow together.

Pistons Blogs: Piston Powered does a great job covering the team from the Motor City. Give their stuff a read and learn up on tonight’s foe.

Keys to game: Not to be overly simple here, but the Lakers should win this game. They have more talent, more size, more experience…more everything. Even if you account for the Lakers being a shabby road team and the Pistons getting up for the lone visit by the Lakers this season, if this game is reasonably close down the stretch, then things have gone awry in some way.

The game plan should be pretty simple tonight: pound the Pistons inside repeatedly. For all of Greg Monroe’s growth as a player, his strong suit is still on the offensive side of the ball and he should be attacked and exploited on the other end. Bynum only needs to work hard for early post position, get big, and call for the ball. His superior girth and strength should amount to a solid option on every possession he’s in the game.

The same can be said of Gasol. Though Maxiell is a more rugged player who uses his body well, Pau has a distinct height and length advantage that can be used in the low and mid post to get good looks for himself and his teammates.

The Laker wings should also see touches on the block. With the Pistons starting Stuckey at SG, he’ll need to guard either Kobe or Ron (likely the latter) and he should be punished in the post and on the offensive glass early in the game to set the tone of how he’ll need to play on both ends of the floor tonight.

Defensively, the Lakers’ biggest goal should be containing dribble penetration and closing down the paint for both drives and post-up chances. The Pistons take the 4th most shots at the rim in the league (via HoopData), and will attack the paint if given angles and opportunities. The Lakers’ secondary help defenders must be ready to close off driving lanes and their big men must fight for position in order to deny deep post-ups from Monroe and Maxiell.

The Lakers would also do well to sag off Detroit’s wing players to make them shoot long jumpers, as they are in the bottom half of the league in three point field goal percentage while also shooting poorly from mid range. If the Lakers can keep them taking jumpers instead of getting to the rim (where they can not only score more easily but draw fouls on the Laker bigs) things should be fine.

Where you can watch: 4:30 start time on KCAL. Also listen live on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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124 responses to Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

  1. From the previous thread – Darius, do you know the answer to this?

    46) Manny,
    “But again, given that Fish and Walton are no idiots, why would they retire and leave millions of dollars of guaranteed cash the table???”

    Good question – if the team buys out a contract during the offseason, does it figure into the salary cap/taxes at all for the following year? If not, then doing that would save the team money.

  2. If the Lakers do not go into one of their periodic brain freezes over the next 2 days, we should be able to head into Minny with a 5 game winning streak and 2 days rest.

  3. #1. I don’t for certain. But I can look into it.

  4. The buyout can help against the cap. For example Luke is set to make $5.8 next year. If we buy him out for $3, then only $3 counts against our cap. However there is no reason for him to do this. In Fish’s case we could offer him a coaching job along with the buyout, but with Luke, the guy gets to parade around in a Laker uniform in front of our cheerleaders for $5.8 per year. Who wouldn’t want that job? If we buy him out for $5.8 then all of it goes against the cap.

  5. I’m curious…
    Who, among the Laker fans, would give up a couple of million dollars or so to help out a business that just signed a huge, new TV deal? Just asking.

  6. Just a general suggestion – you always put where it can be seen/heard at the bottom. Can you start including the XM stations for those of us not in the area? Many thanks for your great site and insight.

  7. #6. I’ll look into providing that information if I can find it easily.

    #1. The buyout amount is pro-rated across the number of seasons left on the contract and is applied as a percentage to that season’s salary and hits the cap at that figure. As an example, if Player X is owed 7 million dollars over the final two years (3 million in year one, 4 million in year 2) of his contract and is bought out for 3.5 million (or 50% of what’s owed), in year one he’d count 1.5 million against the cap and 2 million in year two.

    If a player only has one year left on his contract and is waived, the buyout amount is what counts against the cap (as Robert explained).

  8. Do they still pay luxury tax on the buyout $$ that count against the cap?

  9. #8. Yes, they still pay the tax on that dead money. However, if that player is signed by another team for more than the minimum, the team cap & tax hit is reduced by the amount over the minimum that the player is signed for.

    By the way, thank Tim Donahue from the Pacers’ themed blog 8points 9seconds for the information on this stuff. If you recall, he was great with the lockout coverage and is very helpful with CBA information.

  10. Back to the Pistons (after all this is the game thread), if anyone wants to feel good about themselves and the Lakers, then take a look at the Pistons cap situation/contracts. What a disaster! Hey Kevin – take a look my friend – that is what it looks like 5 years later, when you’ve hung on too long ! They are 12-26 and they are $3 over the cap next year !!

  11. Those deals Dumars gave Ben Gordon and Villanueva were absolutely atrocious at the time and are now somehow even worse in light of the new CBA. How does he still have a job?

    This is certainly a team that needs to blow it up in favor of youth and picks. Problem is, no one will take Gordon or Villanueva off their hands. Poor Piston fans. Oh wait a minute, I don’t actually care, I’m still bitter from 04 haha.

  12. Did you see the black mask on Kobe’s face, yeah, Black Mamba for sure.

  13. metta looks to be in superb shape. really moving well out there

  14. Kobe watch: He moved into 39th place in games at tipoff, and he is now tied for 8th on all time 3 point attempts.
    By the way – they just showed the replay of the nose incident – Wade is still a PUNK

  15. When Pau is hitting that jumper, the whole offense seems to look so much smoother. Frees up the keyway for Drew & Kobe, and just makes the team look more like they have an offensive plan.

  16. Ausphil,
    I don’t think we ever have to worry about Gasol hitting those outside shots. It’s one of his greatest strengths. Especially considering he is a seven footer.

  17. Now that is a pretty assist from KB to PG

  18. You can tell Drew has been working on his free throws. Some more arc on them

  19. WOW!! That lob was nice. you guys see how well Bynum is moving

  20. BYNUM HAS FINALLY ARRIVED. I FEEL LIKE A PROUD FATHER.

  21. Bynum running the floor and gets rewarded with the lob for the slam dunk.

  22. Wow – AB is incredible – I am glad Aaron is busy over on the rumor thread, else this could get painful : )

  23. You’ve got to love when the bench stretches the lead. Related to this, someone mentioned in a previous thread how the “new” 2nd unit built around Drew seems to be coming together, and I think that tonight’s game is further evidence of this.

  24. Bynum needs to be tested like lol. He’s looking like a new man out there. Running the floor quick feet. Jim is smiling right now

  25. I’m feeling this Blake to Bynum display.

  26. man Drew is playing great right now, moving so well, its a joy to see

  27. I’m here guys. Dont worry. I only usually comment when something surprises me. And yes… Bynum needs to be tested for HGH right away. He looks like 2004 Amare running the break and finishing way above the rim. Haha

  28. Andrew Bynum is simply the best basketball player of all time. He invented the game of basketball. Bow down to the glorias messiah and all of his seven foot glory. He is the offspring of Hakeem, Shaq and Jesus.

  29. not stopping the ball

  30. Kobe is off.

    Robert: you still want the guy on the southeast coast? :)

  31. Ken is no longer posting (where did he go?). It is at times like this when we need him to remind us of the team’s weaknesses. MWP + DF = 2 Their bench 18 ours 7

  32. Aaron @29: This is a real question: Are you joking or being serious?
    :)

  33. This went south in a hurry! I had to step away for a while, get back to the computer and that double digit lead has turned into a 1 point deficit. It looks like Detroit are getting a LOT of shots right near the rim, which clearly is not a recipe for defensive success for LA. Need to get things sorted out so we don’t add this game to the numerous other “wow, we should’ve won this game easily” games that we’ve had this season.

  34. and Kobe is out of rythem

  35. And giving up 8 offensive boards already is not going to help either. Amazing to see the Lakers show some of their best attributes and worst attributes in one half of basketball so clearly.

  36. Kobe switched back to the clear mask, the black one was clearly not working.

  37. @ Robert:

    Sorry, but MWP and Fish aren’t to blame on this one. When Kobe sat, the offense was working, the ball was moving, and Bynum was dominating. Kobe came back in and the ball just stopped. Tonight is a night Kobe could just let the bigs carry things, with the way they are playing. Instead, he’s stopping the offense and going iso. Not a recipie for changing LA’s road fortunes. (And I’m a HUGE Kobe fan….)

  38. well that was deflating.

  39. LosFelizLaker March 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    I hope I am not being overly emotional when I say, If you lose this one, don’t bother coming home.

  40. Lakers lost focus stopped going to what got them the lead. Bynum

  41. We need to get back to running the offense. Everything was running fluidly through Bynum .. Kobe forcing it and taking too many bad shots. Offense became stagnant .. Not controling the defensive boards. No way that we should allow this team to go on a 20-4 run against us.

  42. When Drew is playing like this he needs more than six FG attempts in the half…..

  43. Mojo: That half could have been a microcosm of who we are.

  44. Unfortunately, I don’t think Kobe would be happy winning the title this season if he averaged 15 points a game, and Gasol and Bynum averaged 25 each.

  45. Lakers were up and Kobe’s aggressiveness got the best of him.

    That’s alright Lakers coming out strong and will win by 15.

  46. Anyone have a link for the game?

  47. exhelodrvr: As you know I am a little sensitive to such things, but don’t you think that is a bit extreme? : )

  48. Gasol very active on that Lakers possession getting 2 O-rebounds leading to points.

  49. 48) robert,
    No, I don’t. He wants to win titles his way more than he wants to win titles. In the past it hasn’t been a factor that much; this season, and to a lesser extent last season, it has been.
    His drive is his greatest asset, but after a certain point it has a negative impact on the team reaching its ceiling.

  50. Wow, I just tuned into the game and Kobe can’t hit anything

  51. @45 exhelodrvr-

    Would Jordan be happy averaging 15 a game? Kobe is a scorer. That’s what he does and that’s who he has always been. I think he will retire before he averages 15 a game as the 3rd best player.

  52. the big boys really challenging shots in the paint

  53. You tell him KenOak : ) Kobe is not a part of the Lakers. Kobe is the Lakers.

  54. Interesting comparison between Kobe’s line & Stuckey’s line. Stuckey far more efficient shooting-wise in the same minutes (6 of 12 v 6 of 19), same point total (17), but Kobe’s got 5 boards and 4 assists, next to Stuckey’s 1 board and zero assists.

    We are very spoiled when our biggest complaint about the game is Kobe’s shooting. He is still bringing a lot to the table. Don’t get me wrong, if Kobe hadn’t tried to shoot himself into form, we’d be up 20, and I would prefer to see that. But the contrast in those boxscores from the 2 key scorers for each team tells an interesting tale I think.

  55. 54 pts after 3 for Detroit. Great Defense

  56. I didn’t say that Robert… I love the Lakers and Kobe drives me nuts sometimes(Like tonight.) when he is off, but continues to jack em up. However, expecting him to change his game and his mentality after all these years is unrealistic. This is the same guy that, as a rookie, wanted and took the final shot in the playoffs. He’s an alpha dog and he doesn’t know how to be anything else.

    I don’t think he wants to play this game if he doesn’t feel like he can dominate.

  57. Bynum having issues with 48 year old Ben Wallace…

  58. wow held them to 9 pts in the 3rd and allow 8 pts in 4 minutes to start the 4th.

  59. Jim Buss, are you watching this game? We NEED a real PG and some bench help

  60. KenOak: You are correct. So why fight it? He is who he is. And with reference to the Alpha label: The pack has been following this Alpha for a long time, and they have been rewarded with 5 rings and 7 trips to the finals. And if we are going to get back there it is going to be with KB at the front of the pack, with a scowl on his face.

  61. No way you can feel good after this game even if Lakers win

  62. KenOak,
    Kobe could be third in scoring on the team and still be their best player, but that’s not how he wants it. Yes, unfortunately, at this stage of his career he is very unlikely to change, and that decreases the Lakers chances to win a title.

  63. Kevin: Some of us have felt the same way about this team since pre-season. We have 9 days.

  64. So we’re all tied up with 4.43 left. Obviously our inside game is working on offense, so there’s no problems there, but the number of points in the paint that Detroit are racking up is just not good enough. Our D in the keyway really needs to step up. Wall it off, control the defensive glass, and stop giving up so many layups.

  65. Robert: Magic were up 20 and lost by 16 to the Bobcats. the BOBCATS. This may be what pushes Dwight over the edge.

  66. So, is this one of those nights when Kobe has decided HE will win the game or it s better to lose it?
    Just working inside time and time again this is an easy win, cant he see that???
    That s the main reason why despite being one of the greatest players of all time he will never achieve Jordan status.Period

  67. can’t keep him down

    THE ALPHA

  68. anybody else hates it when the commentator goes ___ up, and ___ in. urgh.

  69. If Brown doesn’t draw up a play for Bynum. He should be fired

  70. Huge steal and layup by Ron Artest.

  71. KOBE TIES IT. Going to overtime.

  72. That’s Kobe.

  73. Yessssssss

    The MAMBA

    KOBE !!!!!!!

  74. Made It When It Counted …

  75. Kobe is money… OT folks.

  76. Kobe was due…

  77. Certainly going about this the hard way. Obviously there needs to be improved execution in OT.

  78. Piston s coach is a “genius” as well.
    No double team on Kobe in the final ball.
    Hilarious, but thanks man¡

  79. Write a column about that Mr. Abbott

  80. You never know which Laker team will show up. I’m starting to enjoy this team.

  81. All: I know Kobe can be annoying at times, and his fans can be as well. However please realize that moments like that a large part of why I live !

  82. I can’t figure out whether or not Kobe makes those ridiculous shots often enough to justify him taking them, but that sure was sweet.

  83. Kobe Bryant, hate him or love him! GOAT baby.

  84. Kevin: Some of us have felt the same way about this team since pre-season

    Correct.

  85. Bynumite!

  86. Stuckey is a terrible matchup for WP. Please bring Barnes in to guard him

  87. now is as good as time as any, D-Fish.

  88. If LA loses this–Kobe has to look in the mirror on this game–he did what DET’s big men couldn’t do–stop the twin towers.

  89. That’s what a point guard that can run a pick and roll can do for you.

  90. Worst call ever on that offensive foul they called on Pau. Should have been a three-point play. Stuckey didn’t give him any room after the catch.

  91. Not a good attempt by Kobe taking the quick 3, took it too early. Lakers should have tried for the 2 first.

  92. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the play called out of the timeout. Couldn’t be.

  93. If LA loses this–Kobe has to look in the mirror on this game

    _______________

    To an extent. But MWP, Fisher, Blake, and Barnes are a combined 3/15. Like some of us said after Miami–the personnel issues are still there.

  94. Bring in Goudelock or Murphy.

  95. 92# Agree.But even if we win it s a bad sign.Bynum and Pau could have produced at least 20/25 more points combined if they got the appropiate amount of touches

  96. @RR–Yes, they are 3 for 15—but Pau and Drew are 21 for 32–Kobe should have traded a couple of his isolation jumpers

  97. Fisher with the trey, is my guess.

  98. WHY DOES MIKE BROWN HAVE METTA IN THE GAME. GOUDELOCK BLAKE CAN SHOOT 3s. YANNO

  99. Oh man, this loss hurts. The Lakers led most of the game and lost to a sub .500 team, ugh…

  100. This game was lost in regulation. The Lakers had the lead and the ball, when Pau decided to try a ridiculous behind the ball pass to Bynum that sailed out of bounds.

    The Lakers continue to lose on the road.

  101. least 20/25 more points combined if they got the appropiate amount of touches

    ____

    Not necessarily, for reasons I have explained. Kobe did shoot a few he shouldn’t have in this game, however.

  102. Just when you thought this team was moving forward, it takes 10 steps back…horrible.

  103. Lakers needed a 3 and Mike Brown had metta, murphy, gasol, fisher on the floor.

    lakers have blake, goudelock, kapono who can make 3s.

    WHAT TYPE OF COACHING IS THAT?????

  104. Bad loss; bad game by KB; bench was anihilated 32-7; MWP: 2-9, Bench was 2-12

  105. Bynum and Gasol combines for 50points at70%¡¡¡¡ 24rebounds 8asists and 7blocks and we loose to the #### Pistons?

  106. mindcrime,

    Certainly. But at the same time, I am tired of hearing about chemistry and the team picking up the offense etc etc. The limitations of this group were clear before the season and they are clear now. The team needs another player or two whom the defense has to account for.

  107. In the past after BAD losses like this something drastic would happen.

  108. Miami Victory = 1 Step Forward

    Detroit Loss = 2 Steps Back

    Gotta Get A Win 2morrow Night Versus The Bullets

  109. This team sucks!

  110. on the road versus a team under .500 tomorrow = LOSS.

  111. Kobe made key plays down the stretch a couple passes that weren’t converted.

    Kobe took some crazy shots.

    But when one of the big 3 are off lakers lose

  112. miami game was a fluke..mitch make a move now

  113. rr is correct and we have been saying that since pre-season. Kobe is going to have games like this, and there is still no reason we should lose to a pitiful team like the Pistons. Look at the bench stats. And take a look at the old issue: 3 point shooting. Kobe was 2-9 and he was by far the best. All others 1-13 combined.

  114. It seems the Lakers get nothing from players not named Kobe, Bynum, or Gasol when they go on the road. If just one other player (outside of the big three) gets into double figures this one is a W. The Lakers got nothing from two of their five starters and nothing from the bench. I’ll stop beating that horse.

    Hoping for a win tomorrow in DC.

  115. Lakers win against Miami was fool’s gold.

  116. Simply this Lakers team is not a good road team. A huge difference between home and away for this team. Would liked to have seen Goudelock in the game for the last possession to add another three point threat. Too many threes by Kobe tonight. Bynum and Gasol had good games.

    Shake this loss off and get ready for the Wizards tomorrow.

  117. Lakers went to OT on road. Kobe, Pau, Drew all played 40+ mins. Wizards have young legs with the day off.

    I wouldn’t count tomorrow a win just yet

  118. Beasley and Sessions or bust…

  119. Kevin is correct. NO road game is an automatic–or even highly likely–W for the Lakers this year. OKC lost in DC this year; John Wall is very fast, they have young legs, and the Wiz will be fired up.

  120. Kobe looks completely gased. At the end of the 3rd quarter, he couldn’t get his breath. Too bad he didn’t take the message from his body and keep going to Drew.