Danilo Gallinari giveth and he taketh away in New York's win over the Pistons

With the Pistons down eight points late in the fourth quarter, Tayshaun Prince remembered that Danilo Gallinari was guarding him.

Prince scored 12 of Detroit’s final 15 points in the final six minutes of regulation, bolstered by Gallinari’s slow-as-Eddy Curry feet defensively, to help the Pistons force overtime. Then, Prince helped the Pistons force overtime again when, down three with less than 20 seconds left in the first overtime, he drove to the basket, hit a layup and drew a foul from Gallinari, whose only instructions for the play were “don’t foul.” Oops.

But for as badly as he was torched defensively, Gallinari atoned in the second overtime, hitting two 3-pointers to open the scoring and give the Knicks all the cushion they’d need to outlast the Pistons 125-116 Sunday, wasting Prince’s brilliant 31-point effort.

The loss was unfortunate, because the Pistons had some positives, but it’s hard to focus on any kind of positive after a loss to a poor team at home in a game the Pistons (as always) lost a second half lead in.

In Detroit’s win over Milwaukee Friday, I didn’t stress too much about the fact that the Bucks dominated Detroit on the boards, particularly the offensive glass. Milwaukee is a very good rebounding team, and getting second shots is kind of what they do.

But the Knicks? Amar’e Stoudemire is a lot of great things, but a physical rebounder is not one of them. And two of the biggest plays in this game involved wing Landry Fields beating multiple Pistons to the glass and getting put-backs. Those kinds of lapses are still aggravating but more understandable if you’re trying to block out David Lee. Someone should be able to get a body on Landry Fields though.

This was an important game for Detroit, as I mentioned Friday, because they have three difficult games coming up (at Orlando, at Miami, home vs. Orlando). Miami and Orland0 certainly haven’t hit their strides yet, but based on how Detroit has done in other games this season against contending teams, it’s hard to picture the Pistons being too competitive, especially on the road, in those games.

Ben Gordon on the court for both overtimes made no sense

I’m a big Ben Gordon fan and among the many who would love to see him get more minutes. But Gordon wasn’t aggressive offensively Sunday, mainly because Prince and Rodney Stuckey were having better games. And if Gordon isn’t aggressive offensively, there’s little reason to have him on the court as the Pistons did for both overtimes against the Knicks. Gordon’s not a great defender, he’s undersized, he’s not particularly adept at handling the ball or moving without the ball. That’s not meant as a knock on him — Gordon just is what he is. A scorer.

I think having Gordon on the court for both overtimes cost the Pistons. The Knicks always play a small lineup, so the Pistons countered with a lineup of Stuckey, Gordon, Rip Hamilton, Prince and Ben Wallace. If Gordon’s not going to be the primary option, why not use a player like Austin Daye or Tracy McGrady? Both of those guys can do multiple things well and, more importantly, both would have the length to bother any of the Knicks wings who were on the court: Gallinari, Wilson Chandler or Fields. Instead, one of those three always had the advantage of being able to shoot over Gordon.

Obviously I overreacted to McGrady’s injury

Here’s what I wrote after Friday’s game when McGrady didn’t return to the game with what was described as ‘muscle soreness:’

Maybe it was premature to get too hyped about McGrady’s growing productivity. Maybe minor setbacks are bound to happen throughout this process, and all this was was a minor setback. But unfortunately, every time McGrady sustains an injury, even a minor one, fans are going to fear the worst. Hopefully he gets back on the court for Sunday’s game against one of his former teams, the Knicks.

Consider me shut up. McGrady had his best game as a Piston, scoring 13 points (6-for-10 shooting) with six rebounds, three assists a steal and a block. But McGrady was most impressive at the defensive end.

Friend of PP Mike Payne (From Detroit Bad Boys) pointed out, despite the protests of know-it-all commenter Frankie D, that McGrady has been really good when he’s been isolated one-on-one against and offensive player this season. We got a couple glimpses of McGrady’s defense in the second half against the Knicks.

His best play came when Raymond Felton kicked the ball to Wilson Chandler for what looked like an open three. Except it wasn’t. McGrady closed out incredibly quickly, surprising Chandler, and forcing him into shooting an airball.

The other play was McGrady giving help to Wallace inside on Stoudemire. McGrady went over the top from behind and blocked Stoudemire’s shot without picking up a foul, something that’s typically hard for a shorter, less athletic player to do against a big with Stoudemire’s hops.

McGrady’s never had a reputation as a defensive stopper, but I think that’s largely because his commitment at that end of the floor came and went. In Houston, he played for a good defensive coach in Jeff Van Gundy and with the Pistons, even with his limited mobility, he’s done a good job using his strength and length to become a pretty solid situational defender off the bench, something I don’t think the Pistons realized they’d be getting when they signed him.

Is the Daye/Maxiell platoon over?

John Kuester made the decision to decide who would start at PF based on matchups. But Jason Maxiell started his fifth straight game against New York Sunday, and if any game would scream out as a potential favorable matchup (or at least more competitive matchup) for Daye, it would be the Knicks’ frontline.

I understand mostly why Maxiell started. He was coming off a really good performance against the Bucks, so why mess that up? But at the same time, Kuester has never been shy about going away from the hot hand to stick to his original plan. Remember Gordon’s torrid start to the season when he moved into the starting lineup after Hamilton’s injury? Despite shaky performances, Hamilton was put right back in the starting lineup when he was ready.

So why didn’t Daye start against the Knicks? It’s looking more and more like Maxiell as a starter might be becoming more permanent.

What to make of Stuckey’s performance?

Stuckey scored 27 points, he shot 9-for-16, he got to the line 12 times and he only turned it over twice. Numbers-wise, it was a second straight really good game for Stuckey.

But there were some key moments that stood out negatively. With Prince as the obvious hot hand in the fourth, Stuckey forced his way into traffic twice, got off weak attempts without drawing contact and had his shots easily blocked each time, once by Stoudemire and once by Chandler. Stuckey’s defense also wasn’t great in the fourth as Felton scored 11 points in the quarter to help lead the Knicks back from a small deficit.

Against Milwaukee, I was impressed with Stuckey’s ability to see the entire floor and surprised that he looked really comfortable in the post, where he rarely sets up. Against the Knicks, I was disappointed that the Pistons didn’t try him much in a post-up position on Felton and that Stuckey tried to do too much late in the game. It was still a good performance, but still a reminder there are some holes in his game that have to be fixed.

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Tags: Austin Daye Ben Gordon Ben Wallace Jason Maxiell John Kuester Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince Tracy McGrady

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