Game Reviews: Phoenix 107, Detroit 97; Detroit 126, Milwaukee 121


A combined game review:

This isn’t a shocking revelation, but the Pistons have some very good players.

The Pistons have a pair of star guards in Richard Hamilton and Allen Iverson, who combined to score 65 points against the Bucks on Saturday and 52 against the Suns on Sunday.

The Pistons have a talented big man in Rasheed Wallace, who made a career-high seven 3-pointers against Milwaukee and had 16 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and a block against Phoenix.

The Pistons have one of the best complementary players in the league in Tayshaun Prince, who had the most combined rebounds (13) and assists (nine) he has ever had in a game against the Bucks and chipped in 11 points and four assists against the Suns.

The Pistons have a savvy reserve in Antonio McDyess, who scored a season-high 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds against Milwaukee and pulled down 13 rebounds against Phoenix.

But individuals performance’s ranging from acceptable (Prince against the Suns) to incredible (Hamilton’s season-high 37 points against the Bucks, the most a Piston has ever scored off the bench) didn’t lead to much team success.

Detroit need overtime to beat the Bucks, who were missing their leading scorer (Michael Redd), leading rebounder and shot blocker (Andew Bogut) and and leaders in assists and steals (Luke Ridnour). And the Suns, almost literally, ran the Pistons off the court.

So why the disparity between individual performances and collective output? There are two basic reasons.

1. The Pistons no longer take pride in their team defense.

Defense is contagious. When Detroit had the league’s best defense for several years, it was because Ben Wallace cared so much about it and forced his teammates to care, too. The Pistons cared for a while after Wallace left for Chicago, but that sentiment has clearly warmed off.

Millwaukee point guard Ramon Sessions torched the Pistons for 44 points and 12 assists, mostly created on dribble drives. Hamilton, Iverson and Arron Afflalo had trouble keep Sessions in front of them, but sometimes that happens against quick guards.

But the repeated failure of Detroit’s big men to rotate and help was truly disappointing. That’s just a lack of effort.

It also shows how much the Pistons lack defensive intimidation. Against Phoenix, Steve Nash had free reign to any spot on the court to dish his 21 assists. Six Suns reached doubled figures.

In the two games, the Pistons allowed 110.7 points per 48 minutes.

2. Rodney Stuckey makes the Pistons go.

This is partially due to Stuckey’s strong play, but it has a lot more to do with Chauncey Billups.

The Pistons are accustomed to playing with a top point guard who the offense runs through. Although it appears Hamilton and Iverson are learning how to change that paradigm, it hasn’t disappeared.

Stuckey was 1-of-10 and scored just six points against the Bucks and had just eight points and one assist against Phoenix.

The Pistons are now 3-8 when he scores eight or fewer points. But they’re just 8-5 when he scores 17 or more.

At his best, he’s not good enough to help Detroit reach the top tier of the NBA. At his worst, the Pistons are crummy.

So, the Pistons are a poor defensive team led by a second-year point guard. Not exactly a recipe for success — even if the they still have talent elsewhere.