I suppose Greg Monroe’s play salvaged a part of last night’s clunker, a 103-83 loss to the Los Angles Lakers. It feels empty to write that, but in a late Tuesday-night game destined to be lost in the thick clouds of a stormy season, maybe we should just be thankful for a single semi-encouraging storyline.
In a game few Pistons fans saw considering its time and position opposite an exciting Sugar Bowl, Greg Monroe made a basket here and grabbed a rebound there on his way to 14 points and 11 rebounds – his first career double-double.
He also made two steals and did OK defending the post. Monroe’s interior defense has leveled off this season at mediocre, but that’s progress from its shaky start and a notch above what his teammates displayed tonight.
Monroe played hard all night, but never had a spurt of significantly impacting the game. It wasn’t his best game as a Piston, but it was a good one.
Otherwise, most of the rest of the Pistons exhibited their typically boringly bad play. Their energy wasn’t so lacking they embarrassed themselves, but it wasn’t near the level necessary to compete with a team like the Lakers.
The Pistons hung around in the first half because Kobe Bryant missed his first nine shots and the Pistons (mostly with Tracy McGrady on the floor) moved the ball pretty well. But there was never any doubt the Lakers would pull away.
The game wasn’t pretty for the Pistons, and this won’t be their last such game of the season. I just hope when these come around, there’s at least one positive. Tonight, we got that.
Some expectations this team has set, huh?
Tracy McGrady produces again
Maybe it’s time to stop marveling at each quality Tracy McGrady performance. They’ve become par for the course.
His knees still prevent him from being an every-night player, but he’s getting the job done more often than not. After scoring 14 points and dishing six assists tonight in his fifth straight start:
- he’s scored at least 11 points in five of his last seven games.
- he’s dished at least six assists in four of his last seven games.
- he’s grabbed at least four rebounds in six of his last 11 games.
McGrady made six turnovers and didn’t produce much in the second half. But, unlike earlier in the season, I’m no longer surprised every time McGrady helps the Pistons.
Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom expose Pistons
Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom combined for 50 points (19-of-29 from the field) and 22 rebounds. The Pistons struggles defending opposing bigs have been well-documented, but the Lakers’ trio also drew attention to an offensive shortcoming on Detroit’s roster.
The Pistons have no low-post players with good hands. It was amazing watch the Lakers whip passes inside to Gasol, Bynum and Odom, who converted them into easy layups. Those three Lakers also scored on put-backs after easily collecting the ball.
The Pistons who might be most adept at establishing post position – Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace – can’t match either of those things. They fumble entry passes and tip rebounds, allowing defenders time to position themselves.
Detroit needs an interior player with hands for its offense to begin approaching the Lakers’ level. I hope Greg Monroe can turn into that player.
Rodney Stuckey still slowed
Rodney Stuckey’s stomach virus appeared to hit him with lingering effects against the Lakers. He missed all three of his shots, turned the ball over twice and committed two fouls in 12 minutes. His jumper looked flatter than usual, and he didn’t contribute much of anything worthwhile.
Hopefully, his health shows signs of improvement against the 76ers on Saturday.