Game Review: Richard Hamilton regaining form, Ben Wallace’s mental block and John Kuester makes big omission

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Yes, Richard Hamilton almost cost the Pistons last night’s game. He had an offensive foul then fouled Manu Ginobili for an and-1 to let the Spurs reach overtime – before they lost, 101-99, to the Pistons.

But Hamilton deserves a break. He’s begun to play like the scorer the Pistons have relied on the past seven seasons. Just look at his lines for the last three games:

  • Points: 36, 29 and 27.
  • Free throws: 9-of-9, 10-of-10 and 9-of-9.
  • Two pointers: 9-of-12, 8-of-19 and 9-of-14.

As I’ve said, I think the Pistons signed Ben Gordon because they believed he’s the type of player you don’t pass up under any circumstances. I imagine Joe Dumars envisioned a scenario where Hamilton and Gordon were both playing extremely well and one had to be moved – as opposed to the opposite problem that has plagued them this season of neither playing well.

Right now, it’s halfway fixed.

Ben Wallace’s mind games

Trailing by nine with 3:35 left in the fourth quarter, the Spurs began intentionally fouling Ben Wallace. They sent him to the line five straight possessions, and he made 4-of-10 free throws. San Antonio cut the deficit to four. Finally, Hamilton replaced Wallace.

To me, it’s a completely fair strategy. How is it different than trying to isolate an opponent’s weakest defensive player? Players don’t get a free pass at masking their deficiencies. It’s risky, but the Spurs had their backs against the wall and needed to take a chance.

But Wallace didn’t approve. From Chris Iott of MLive:

Wallace threw his headband to the floor as he made his way to the bench.
"It’s garbage," Wallace said when asked about the strategy.

Wallace was asked how he felt about Kuester showing confidence by leaving him in so long while the Spurs employed the strategy.

"That’s garbage, too," Wallace said, then quickly ended the interview.

Wallace’s free-throw percentage (.441) is the highest its been since the Pistons’ championship season. But he could shoot between 50 and 60 percent fairly easily.

It’s definitely a mental block, and his little pouting session shows that. It’s just strange to see from such an otherwise mentally strong player.

If the Pistons lost this game because of Wallace’s free-throw shooting, it wouldn’t have been a huge deal. They’re not going anywhere, anyway.

But if Wallace returns next season, and Detroit is in the playoff race, this problem could be more serious. At this point, though, I doubt an old dog will pickup a new trick.

Most-talented lineup

In last night’s Daily Dime Live, Kevin Arnovitz said:

As bad as Pistons are, you have to wonder…what’s the worst that would happen if they fielded a lineup of Stuckey-Gordon-Hamilton-Prince-Charlie V?
Throw Wallace or Maxiell in there against bigger teams, maybe.
Would they be *worse* than 19-35?

There are two big reasons the Pistons haven’t used this lineup:

  1. Injuries.
  2. Ben Wallace and Jonas Jerebko, Detroit’s best players, aren’t included.

But John Kuester has played 322 different lineups entering last night’s game, according to BasketballValue.com. The five players Arnovitz mentioned haven’t played a single minute together.

How many other teams haven’t put their five-most talented players on the floor together at all? If you count the Clippers, whose Blake Griffin has missed the entire season, my guess would be two.

If the Pistons really want to see what they have, that number needs to shrink to one.

Tags: Ben Wallace John Kuester Richard Hamilton