Greg Monroe’s third straight double-double a historic mark for a Pistons rookie, but he can’t compensate for Bulls’ Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer

Isn’t there a trade to discuss? That’s much more appealing than the reality of tonight’s game.

Sometimes, teams are just overmatched, and the Pistons certainly were tonight. They don’t have the manpower to matchup with the Bulls, even if it took Chicago a half to realize that. Detroit provided very little resistance as the Bulls turned a 12-point halftime deficit into a 95-82 victory.

The Pistons’ part in the Carmelo Anthony trade won’t fix the Pistons’ talent disparity against teams like the Bulls, but the flexibility the deal provides would be a start. Detroit needs an impact player, someone like Derrick Rose (29 points, seven assists and five rebounds) or Carlos Boozer (27 points and 11 rebounds).

Greg Monroe isn’t that guy yet. Heck, I’m he wasn’t even that guy for just tonight while recording his third straight double-double (10 points and 11 rebounds). But he’s continuously showing signs – another rebound in traffic, a confident jump shot, strength in the low post on defense.

His double-double should encourage doubters, if any remain. Monroe became the first Pistons rookie since at least 1986-87 (as far back as Basketball-Reference’s streak finder goes) to record three straight point-rebound double-doubles.

Monroe still needs work to catch Jason Maxiell’s five straight point-rebound double-doubles last March, but the young center has a a shot at that mark.

“Monroe’s double-double lone bright spot in Pistons loss” stories are becoming a little tired, but at least there’s something positive to write. When his streak ends, then what?

That’d be a great time for a trade.

Check back for more updates.

Austin Daye fizzles after hot start

Austin Daye made his first six shots, scoring 14 points, in the first half. He appeared set to topple his career high of 16 points.

But he missed all four his shots in the second half and finished with 14 points.

This game illustrated why the Pistons are sticking with Tayshaun Prince as their starting small forward. Daye has proven good in spurts, but many players around the league are good in spurts. Daye hasn’t reached that next level where he can play well during an extended period of time.

In the first half, he aggressively looked for his shot and was confident taking it. In the second half, he resigned himself to being a fourth option, and his shots appeared more tentative.

Daye has impressed for a second-year player, showing positive signs all season,* especially when getting getting minutes at small forward or shooting guard as he did against the Bulls. But he’s not ready for a larger role yet.

*One such sign came on what might be the most surprising Pistons play of the season, considering the player involved.

Daye collected a loose ball past halfcourt with five seconds on the shot clock and dribbled right through the Bulls’ defense for a dunk.

It was an excellent play, not the best I’d seen this season – but considering the source, the most surprising.

Shooting-guard shellacking

After a combined seven points (2-of-17 shooting), six rebounds and five assists against the Bulls, Ben Gordon and Richard Hamilton have now combined to post 38 points (12-of-47 shooting), 11 rebounds and 11 assists in their last…

I wrote about the duo’s struggle in the last game, so if you’re expecting me to write, “two games” here, brace yourself. Those numbers would be pretty dreadful, and plausible, for a two-game stretch. But the reality is that’s what the two highly paid guards have done in their last three games.

Gordon and Hamilton haven’t combined to score even 30 points in a game since Hamilton score 35 himself against the Raptors in his first game off the bench.

They’re playing without purpose, and it’s time for John Kuester to consider sending a message. Starting Tracy McGrady and Rodney Stuckey must at least cross his mind.

Defending Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer

The Pistons have one player capable of defending Derrick Rose and two who can handle Carlos Boozer – and those three can only slow the Bulls’ stars under the best of circumstances.

This game was not the best of circumstances.

Rodney Stuckey, the lone Piston capable of guarding Rose, inexplicably played just 19 minutes, including none of the fourth quarter. Stuckey wasn’t great against Rose, but he was the only Piston capable of physically matching up.

Part of the reason Stuckey struggled on Rose is John Kuester had him going over screens, and the Pistons’ help defense isn’t quick enough to rotate and help. With Stuckey out of the game, the Pistons began trapping Rose more.

As far as defending Boozer, Ben Wallace and Greg Monroe are the only two Pistons who have a chance. But Wallace hurt his left ankle shortly after tipoff, and although he tried to play a couple minutes, his night ended early in the first quarter.

That led to Monroe playing 43 minutes – eight more than his previous career high. Sometime in the second half, Monroe slowed down, and a gassed Monroe has no chance of defending Boozer.

Charlie Villanueva physically should match up OK with Boozer, but as we’ve seen, his defensive awareness leaves much to be desired. Against the Bulls, he had the quickest defensive rotation I’ve ever seen him make. He was right on Boozer as soon as Boozer caught the pass on a pick and roll. It was beautiful defense. Then Villanueva got so excited, he immediately hacked Boozer.

Rose and Boozer would have been tough assignments no matter what, but with coaching and circumstance working against Detroit, those two picked the Pistons apart.

Tracy McGrady comes back to earth

You’d think Tracy McGrady would have gotten up for this game, in Chicago, against the team that so publicly denied him a contract offer this summer. But he basically sleep-walked through this game.

He was lazy with his dribble and passes, turning the ball over three times. He scored nine points, but he had just two assists and two rebounds in 32 minutes.

For the first time in a while, he looked anything but savvy. Maybe expectations have soared too high, too quickly.

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Tags: Austin Daye Ben Gordon Ben Wallace Charlie Villanueva Greg Monroe Jason Maxiell John Kuester Richard Hamilton Rodney Stuckey

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