As Tayshaun Prince has gotten healthy, he’s become a lot more aggressive. He’s seemed to realize with Chauncey Billups, Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace not here anymore, he doesn’t have to settle for being just a fourth option. The Pistons need him score more.
Well, he did in last night’s 110-107 win over the Rockets, pouring in a game-high 29 points.
This wasn’t like the Cleveland game Friday, when Prince scored 23 points because his jumper was falling. He made 7-of-7 shots at the rim last night. Those are season highs for makes and attempts from that location and way up from his season average (2-for-3).
That aggressiveness extended to the glass, where Prince grabbed 10 boards. But, and this might be nitpicking after such an awesome game, it didn’t extend to his defense.
Kevin Martin flew past him. Luis Scola posted him up. Those aren’t easy matchups, but Prince didn’t impress in either. He’s not the defender he used to be, and that’s probably just something we’ll just have to accept. But I’d like to see him slow one type of player.
Bulk up and stop the bigs or speed up and stop the wings. Doing neither isn’t enough.
Will Bynum looked as comfortable as I’ve seen him since before his ankle injuries. He ran the offense with authority and was really the catalyst for Detroit posting a 110 offensive rating.
He knew when to pull up for jumpers, drive to the basket and distribute. He looked like a natural point, which hasn’t always been his forte.
And like before his injuries, his all-around game is really taking off. He finished with 12 points, 11 assists, four rebounds, two steals and just one turnover. And he played 42 minutes, proving he’s healthy again.
Jonas Jerebko is good – and improving
A few times this year, I’ve thought Jonas Jerebko has limited upside. He hustles and makes play because of that, but how effective will he be next year when opponents scout him? I wasn’t sure he had the skills to beat a defense geared to keep him off the glass and limit his scoring.
But his offensive repertoire is really expanding. He made 2-of-4 3-pointers last night, and he’s shown a propensity for quick drives to the basket before defenses set. He finished with 16 points.
He even took a couple hook shots last night. Both missed pretty badly. But I figure he’s made them in practice if he actually took them in a game.
I’m still not completely convinced Jerebko has as much upside as the typical rookie averaging nine points and six rebounds per game. But he’s removing my doubt.
Oh, yeah. He’s still making the hustle plays, too (eight rebounds, three blocks, one steal and a plus-8 last night).
Jason Maxiell becoming a force again
Last season and early this season, Jason Maxiell looked lethargic most of the time. But now that he’s become Detroit’s backup center, he really coming into his own.
I think part of the problem before was that he never had a set role. He’d play most games, but not all. Sometimes, Detroit would want his low post scoring. Other times, defense would be the emphasis.
Now, he’s playing hard all the time. For most of the season, I’d only describe Jonas Jerebko this way, but Maxiell just makes plays. He had 16 rebounds, a steal (probably should’ve gotten credit for a another) and was a team-best plus-11 last night.
I still think he settled for a mid-range jumper too often, though. He shot 2-of-7 from the field. That shot can be a nice weapon for him at times. But it should be secondary to his back-to-the-basket game in the low post.
Austin Daye stuck in foul trouble
Austin Daye had three fouls in eight minutes. It’s not that big of a deal now – when we’re just looking for anything positive from him. (And he provided that, making both his shots, including a nifty drive and pull-up floater).
But if he’s going to become a rotation player some day, how will he defend – without getting in foul trouble – with such a slight frame?
Ben Gordon’s slump that won’t end
Ben Gordon shot just 1-of-7, and it looked like he was slow on a couple defensive rotations.
I think we can just chalk this up as a lost season for him. Gordon has never had injury problems like this before, and his confidence looks shot. His numbers are so far below his previous career lows, which makes me believe something fluky is happening.
I’m concerned. But if he plays like this next season, I’ll really be worried.
Kwame Brown playing
With Ben Wallace out, Kwame Brown has played the last couple games. So, I guess whatever he was doing – or not doing – that him stuck at the end of the bench wasn’t serious enough to preclude him from playing under all circumstance.
Taunting refs is sport for this Wallace, too
An injured Ben Wallace in street clothes picked up a technical foul in the second quarter. When it was announced, it almost look like he was trying to hold in a laugh.
I haven’t always been pleased with the Pistons’ effort this season, but they played hard in this game. A win over a quality Rockets team says this team still has some pride and isn’t just playing for a draft pick.
The Pistons ended regulation on 10-2 run and overcame missing three straight free throws in the final 11 seconds of overtime. They gritted out a win, and John Kuester described it as “healthy.”
That’s a word that hasn’t been used about the Pistons much this year, but I completely agree. I want Detroit to build a winning culture, no matter what it means for June 24.