Do I detect a blown lead? Do I hear people taking shots at Will Bynum even when he shoots 65 percent, scores 21 points with 6 assists and zero turnovers? Do I see a frontcourt player obliterating his season averages against the Pistons frontline?
The All-Star break must be over. And since it’s been a few days since we’ve had a game to talk about, excuse me while I go into greater detail than usual for this one.
Prince making good on his prediction?
No one likes to make a prediction and look bad. Trust me, if I had the chance, I’d gladly like to scrub some of my own from the internet. But Tayshaun Prince is actually in a position to back his prediction, the one where he basically said the Pistons wouldn’t make the playoffs, up. And he got a good start, shooting 0-for-9 and scoring 1 point vs. Houston.
In reality, as listless as Prince looked on occasion, his poor night had everything to do with Shane Battier. Battier knew everything Prince was going to do before he did it. The performance was interesting to me because, as a veteran role player noted for his defense and who has an expiring contract, Battier is basically a competitor to Prince on the trade market. With this lockdown performance, Battier let contending teams know that if they’d like a stopper as a rental, and they are deciding between he and Prince, one of those two players is clearly a little better than the other at that end of the court.
Career night for Patrick Patterson
I’ve lost count of the number of nondescript bigs who have had career nights vs. Detroit over the last two seasons, but add Patrick Patterson to the list. Patterson was a player I liked a lot coming out of Kentucky, but he’s only averaged 4.3 points per game for Houston and had only reached double figures four times before scoring 20 off the bench against Detroit.
The sad part is, the Pistons starting frontcourt of Ben Wallace and Greg Monroe actually frustrated a pretty good big man. Luis Scola, who scored 35 points the last time the Pistons played, shot just 4-for-15 Tuesday as Wallace and Monroe both moved their feet well and both had a hand in Scola’s face all night. Ordinarily, holding a key big to such a poor shooting night should be a recipe for success for Detroit, but with the second unit allowing Patterson to knock down open shots all night, the advantage they gained with Scola’s off night was wasted.
Speaking of defense …
Rodney Stuckey did a nice job with Kevin Martin. Martin, like Scola, has had some good moments against the Pistons in his career. With Stuckey playing him physically, using his quickness to chase Martin around and his strength to fight over top of screens, Martin only shot 4-for-12. To hold a team’s two leading scorers to 8-for-27 shooting and lose has to be a pretty rare feat.
When your three best shooters are all 6-foot-3 or shorter, what do you do?
Stuckey, Ben Gordon and Bynum all shot the ball exceptionally well against the Rockets. But can you play all three of them at the same time? Going ultra small for a long stretch was not something John Kuester cared to experiment with until the final stages of the game when the Pistons had already blown a lead, instead using the ineffective Austin Daye or the aforementioned ineffective to the max Prince. It basically meant that at all times, one of the only three (with apologies to Monroe, who doesn’t create his own shots) effective offensive players the Pistons had on the night was on the bench. It’s an issue that likely won’t go away for the Pistons, unless Kuester suddenly takes a more innovative approach and goes with weird lineups on occasion if guys are clearly having good nights.
What to do with Bynum?
DetroitPCB wrote this in the comments:
I will not be watching anymore of Will Bynum pulling the Pistons close with great play and then blowing the game with poor decision making. Not only is it so hard to watch, it is totally predictable. Between Bynum and Gordon and Stuckey, you just know somebody is going to make an absolutely boneheaded play.
Now, to be clear, I disagree for reasons I’ve listed before. But a common complaint about Bynum is that he calls his own number too often late in games. Bynum plays the way he plays because he’s been unfairly yanked in and out of the rotation during his career. He plays every second he’s on the court as if he might not play again for three weeks because, frankly, that’s how he’s been treated as a Piston. There’s a simple fix to this: give him a role and don’t take it from him. It’s an easy conversation:
“Will, you’re our backup point guard. If you’re shooting 54 percent, as you have been this entire month, we certainly want you to look to score. But what’s going to keep you on the floor is running the offense, finding teammates and playing unselfishly. We don’t want you to look over your shoulder. Don’t fret the mistakes, you’ll get the opportunity to play through them. You don’t have to score 20 points a game to have a role here. Be comfortable, play freely. We love your heart and how hard you play. Keep it up.”
That simple. Bynum has had to fight for every inch in the NBA. He’s been all over the world trying to turn himself into a NBA player. His constant fear is that he won’t get the proper chance to show his game off, and that translates to his on-court demeanor — he plays as if this is his shot to prove to everyone watching he belongs. The Pistons really haven’t done a good job showing him that he’s a valuable piece to this team, and consequently, he still sometimes plays like a guy on a 10-day contract fighting for a roster spot. What the Pistons need from him is to slow down a tad and, hopefully, have some of his style and enthusiasm rub off on some of his less enthusiastic teammates.
And sorry PCB, it’s patently ridiculous to criticize a guy who just had 21 points, six assists, 0 turnovers and shot 60 percent. Even if Bynum made a bad play or two, guys like Prince or Daye who gave absolutely nothing had a lot more two do with the Pistons losing than anything Bynum did.