Rodney Stuckey missed at least part of the Pistons’ last five games – all losses by at least 14 points – with a groin injury. He returned tonight to shoot 2-for-7, and Pistons lost by just nine points, 102-93 to the 4-6 Milwaukee Bucks.
Watch out, NBA. The Pistons are back!
Greg Monroe: supreme scorer
Greg Monroe was the epitome of scoring efficiency. On 19 separate occasions Thursday, Monroe attempted to score two points. On 16, he did.
He has post moves. He has a quick first step. He has a jumper. He’s as complete a scorer as any second-year big man has been recently.
Monroe missed four shots. He followed one with an offensive rebound and layup. A foul should’ve probably been called on another. Monroe also drew four shooting fouls, making both free throws each time.
Monroe’s scoring prowess also came mostly against Andrew Bogut, one of the game’s best defenders. It was a career night for Monroe, whose 32 points were a personal best. But outside of his 8-for-8 free-throw shooting, Monroe never looked like he was working outside his comfort zone. Games like this won’t be the norm, but he should have more in this realm.
Outside of scoring, Monroe was solid. He had 16 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Those impressive numbers are partially a product of playing 40 minutes, but he also had just two turnovers.
Brandon Knight gets aggressive
Brandon Knight shot his first free throws of 2012.
He attempted one against the Cavaliers and two at Boston, but he hadn’t gotten to the line in eight of his first 10 games, including the last seven.
That stat was emblematic of Knight’s general passivity, due to either the chaos of the Pistons’ offense preventing him from establishing himself or a simple uncertainty how to run an NBA offense.
But Knight attacked more than he has recently – both with his shots and passes. He finished with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including 2-of-2 on 3-pointers, and three assists.
He also had five turnovers, a number that must come down. But more of those turnovers came from pushing to hard, not sloppiness with no upside.
Hopefully, tonight was a sign he’s getting more comfortable playing his game at the NBA level. The next step will be changing his game to include fewer turnovers, but first, I want him to play his game consistently.
Perfect free throws
The Pistons were 24-of-24 on free throws, and the Buckers were 17-of-17. That’s pretty fluky for both teams, and I don’t either gained a significant edge by a lucky hot-shooting night from the line.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the best display of free throw shooting in NBA history.
The previous mark was held by the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors, who were a combined 16-for-16 from the line on December 22, 2000. That’s the only other game in the shot clock era in which both teams went the entire night without missing a free throw.
The 24-for-24 for the Pistons was the best by any team in the NBA this season, the best by any team since the Minnesota Timberwolves were 25-for-25 in a 104-92 win over the New Orleans Hornets on February 7, 2011.
Via Elias, the last time the Pistons made that many free throws without a miss in a game was March 12, 1985, when they went 24-for-24 in a 111-110 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
That night, they lost to a rookie named Michael Jordan, who made four late free throws of his own to seal a 32-point effort and a win for his team.
If you couldn’t tell, the introductory section of this post is satire.