Detroit point guards Brandon Knight and Will Bynum combined for 1 assist and 8 turnovers in Monday’s 92-68 loss to Chicago. Center Greg Monroe finished with 6 assists and just one turnover, and if not for his presence, an already unwatchable offensive performance would’ve been truly embarrassing.
Lawrence Frank has understandably frequently talked about re-establishing the Pistons as a defense-first organization. Surprisingly, though, the Pistons are far closer to being competent on that end of the floor than on offense. The Pistons once again hung around for three quarters with Chicago because their defense contests shots and their big men, though undersized and often physically overmatched, generally fight opposing bigs for position inside. The Pistons are far from a good defensive team, but their effort makes them passable and much improved from last season.
The offense, though, is a wreck. As Dan pointed out after the Knicks loss, the Knight-Ben Gordon backcourt is just too erratic to succeed right now. Against the Knicks, the duo was both missing shots and being careless against the ball. Against Chicago, both guys shot it better, but they had four turnovers each. To Knight’s credit, he continued to make himself a presence on the boards, grabbing five. To Gordon’s credit, he continued to look to pass, collecting four assists. But the Pistons clearly need a stabilizing presence in their backcourt rotation. As much as I like Bynum, he’s no stabilizing presence either. Rodney Stuckey‘s game has holes in it, but he does take care of the ball. So does Tayshaun Prince. With Stuckey out and the Pistons forced to play Knight and Gordon big minutes together, Prince should have more responsibilities handling the ball (as much as it pains me to say that … Prince’s isos were certainly not exciting basketball to watch last year, but he did at the very least not turn it over much).
Once again, the only positive to come away with from another game is Monroe’s stellar play. To Frank’s credit, he’s said he wants Monroe to be the centerpiece of the offense, and he is making sure he gets touches. That’s an improvement from last season, when the Pistons went the entire season without anyone clearly knowing who the offense was supposed to be run through. In the third quarter, the only quarter when the Pistons had any fluidity on offense, Monroe’s passing and decision-making were the reasons why. Although Monroe’s development is fascinating to watch, Monroe alone isn’t enough to make this team watchable.
Jason Maxiell shot 12 times
Maxiell has had some flashes this season where he looked like a respectable rotation player again. Tonight wasn’t one of those moments. He shot 1-for-12 against the Bulls. He had only shot 31 times in eight games before tonight. Jonas Jerebko wasn’t much better, shooting just 2-for-8. He also launched a couple contested jumpers, which just isn’t his game. Carlos Boozer once again was too much for anyone the Pistons tried to guard him with.
Kyle Korver, defensive stopper?
The Bulls put Korver in in the first half and Pistons broadcasters Greg Kelser and George Blaha pointed out that the Pistons would attack him. Vincent Goodwill tweeted that they should go after him. Then … it just kind of never happened. Gordon took him off the dribble once, then the Pistons just didn’t go back to that matchup in the second quarter. When Korver was guarding Austin Daye later in the second, his ankle was clearly bothering him because he couldn’t beat Korver off the dribble. Daye had one of his better games as a pro with Korver guarding him last season.