Rodney Stuckey duels with Kobe Bryant and comes out victorious

Most Valuable Player

Andrew Bynum (30 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks) dominated the interior. Even when the Pistons successfully boxed him out, he used his superior length and bulk to reach over and get boards, anyway.

Defining moment

Kobe Bryant made a long 2-point jumper that was tightly contested by Tayshaun Prince to end regulation and force overtime. Even in a loss, that moment was bigger than any. Kobe just has that gravitas.

Rodney Stuckey carries Pistons

How did the Pistons win despite the above? Rodney Stuckey (17 points in first three quarters, 17 points in fourth quarter and overtime) took over and out-Kobed Kobe down the stretch.

Stuckey is a versatile player. He’s capable of scoring, passing, rebounding and defending well for his position. At his best, Stuckey contributes in a variety of ways.

But on some nights, when the Pistons needs fall to a single area, Stuckey should channel his energy to that facet of the game. Tonight was was one of those nights.

And, boy, did Stuckey answer the challenge. His big stretch started with this:

A drive for a layup on Detroit’s next possession, a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of regulation and the Pistons’ first two baskets of overtime gave Stuckey 11 straight Detroit points. Talk about “inner bully.”

Why Stuckey needed to step up

The top three Pistons in field-goal attempts per game all played horribly.

Yes, Greg Monroe rebounded well (15). Yes, Tayshaun Prince defended Kobe Bryant well (holding the Laker star to 8-of-26 shooting). Yes, Brandon Knight passed decently (three assists and one turnover in 25 minutes).

But overall, those three played poorly – and they played especially poorly when it came to scoring. Neither Monroe (1-for-10), Prince (5-for-15) nor Knight (0-for-6) attempted a single free throw.

Aside from two offensive, possessions, Monroe didn’t play in the fourth quarter or overtime. I’m fine with that. Monroe gets plenty of minutes, and if he’s not producing during a game the Pistons have a chance to win, I’m OK with sitting him. That shows Lawrence Frank’s consistency in his message that playing time is earned, and there’s value in reinforcing that to a young player.

Ben Gordon heats up

Ben Gordon (15 points, five rebounds and five assists) has been more down that up lately, but he was smoothly making long 2-pointers tonight. Lawrence Frank rode with Gordon for the game’s final 21:46, cutting into Brandon Knight’s minutes.

At this point, we know Gordon is capable of games like this. He’s often a useful backup scoring guard – perhaps even more often than not. Tonight showed me nothing to upgrade that evaluation.

Jonas Jerebko does more good than bad

I wasn’t always happy with Jonas Jerebko’s shot selection (3-of-8), but he’s big and active, so I can live with it. Jerebko (10 points and five rebounds) should rarely be creating his own shot, something he tried to do more than once tonight.

If the Pistons had more reliable offensive options, it would bother me even more. But until they do, as long as Jerebko keeps hustling, he’s earned the bad shots he sprinkles throughout his game.

The Lakers’ problems

This was a great win for the Pistons. The Palace was rocking late in the fourth quarter and during overtime, a deserved treat for a hard-working group. As great as it would be for the young players to progress and for the Pistons to lose every game, those goals work against each other. We are dealing with humans, after all, and the team needs a few wins like this just to remain engaged and working hard.

The Lakers certainly complied.

As Patrick predicted, the Pistons used a variety of players to adequately defend Kobe Bryant (8-of-26). But that didn’t stop Kobe from shooting. He used 32 possessions – more than Andrew Bynum’s 23 possessions and Pau Gasol’s 21 possessions.

Jason Maxiell (10 points and 10 rebounds) did a decent job defending Gasol, which shows how much more athletic and physically fit Maxiell is than the last couple years. And Ben Wallace came off the bench to give Bynum a little trouble. But, on the whole, the Pistons’ couldn’t consistently defend the Lakers’ interior duo. Kobe and crew didn’t take advantage.

Also, the Lakers are 17-2 at home and 6-13 on the road – easily the NBA’s largest drop by location. With a spirited collection of fans in the building, Detroit had a true home-court advantage tonight.

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Tags: Ben Gordon Brandon Knight Greg Monroe Jason Maxiell Jonas Jerebko Lawrence Frank Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince

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