Rodney Stuckey, Greg Monroe continue poor starts to season in loss to Suns

89 Recap | Box Score  92
Jason Maxiell, PF 31 MIN | 7-12 FG | 2-3 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 16 PTS | -9 

Maxiell got off to a great start with 11 points in the first seven minutes. The starting frontcourt was bad defensively most of this game, though. It was hard to tell if that was more Maxiell’s fault or Monroe’s, but both were bad.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 34 MIN | 7-15 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | 0 

No complaints about Prince tonight. He shot when he was open, he didn’t hold the ball too long and he seems to be embracing more of a complementary role than he’s played the previous three seasons. All good news.

Greg Monroe, C 29 MIN | 5-17 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | -6 

Monroe was pretty awful offensively and defensively. He’s settling for jumpers a lot, he’s passive and he’s letting opposing bigs get any position they want against him.

Brandon Knight, PG 31 MIN | 5-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 10 AST | 13 PTS | -7 

Knight recovered from a poor first half to have a pretty nice — dare I say it — point guard-like game with 10 assists and just two turnovers.

Rodney Stuckey, PG 22 MIN | 0-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 1 PTS | -7 

For the second straight season, it’s fair to say Stuckey is slumping at the beginning of the year. He’s now 1-for-17 in two games.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 17 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +7 

Jerebko led a second unit — primarily Jerebko, Singler and Drummond — that helped keep the Pistons in the game when their starters were mostly struggling.

Kyle Singler, SF 24 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +3 

Singler’s stats weren’t as impressive as the first game, but he was still solid and he hit a 3-pointer with five seconds left that cut the lead to two and gave the Pistons an opportunity to tie it on a final shot. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Andre Drummond, C 19 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-3 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | +3 

Drummond played more than in the season opener, which is good. He played much better than the season opener, also good. Unfortunately, he still didn’t’ play enough.

Will Bynum, PG 17 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | +3 

Bynum gave good energy and contributed to a second unit that was energetic and, overall, much more fun to watch than the starters. He was a bit more out of control tonight than he was against the Rockets in the opener though.

Kim English, SG 16 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -2 

English didn’t play as well as he did Wednesday, but I still would’ve liked to have seen more of him with Stuckey struggling so much.

Things We Saw

In defense of Lawrence Frank … 

Frank took a beating in the game preview comments. I’m not saying that a lot of the criticisms aren’t warranted, but at the same time, the Pistons lost this game because they got a really passive performance out of their best player, Monroe, and they got absolutely nothing from (arguably) their second best player, Stuckey. Even a coach pushing all the right buttons would probably still lose most games with awful performances out of his best two players. Frank deserves blame, but let’s not get carried away with only pinning the responsibility on him. If Monroe is the player we think and hope he is, he can’t be a pushover defensively like he has the last two games.Any offense is going to look bad when two of the key players on the team are slumping to start the season. Maybe it’s the offense itself that is causing their slumps, but I doubt it. Stuckey and Monroe are just playing poorly.

No defense for Frank here … 

OK, now that that’s out of the way, here are my two biggest grievances with Frank at the moment:

- He should have to answer the question, “Why are you so opposed to playing Drummond and Monroe together?” I’m not in the media scrums, so maybe he’s been asked the question and just given a coach-speak, say-nothing reply. Or maybe he hasn’t been asked the question bluntly enough. But there’s no good reason why we haven’t seen that combination up front.

- On the final play of the game, the Pistons needed a 3-pointer. But they had two players on the floor — Maxiell and Monroe — who were no threat to shoot the three, and another in Prince who isn’t a bad 3-point shooter, but he’s also not the best bet to get off a quick catch and shoot. So the team had two real options to go to on that play — Singler or Knight. I can’t imagine that was a very hard possession to defend for Phoenix.Yes, the offense looks awful in the halfcourt at times. Yes, the defense might actually be worse than it was last year when it was already brutally bad. Frank should answer for both of those things, but I’m also willing to wait for a large sample this season before I conclude that his offensive and defensive systems are complete failures.Players are struggling, and that’s not Frank’s fault. The lineups he’s choosing, however, are his fault and deserve to be questioned.

Andre Drummond doesn’t need to start

Drummond simply needs to play more and he needs some minutes with Monroe. If those two things are addressed, I’ll be satisfied even if Drummond isn’t starting. The reason I’ll be satisfied is because this second unit is a lot of fun right now. Bynum, Singler, Jerebko, English and Drummond bring a crazy amount of energy into the game, and it’s a welcome sight since the guys in the starting lineup are more of the quiet, laid-back types. The Pistons absolutely need to do something to shake out of the doldrums, but I’d be really hesitant to mess much with a unit that seems to have really good chemistry right now.

Knight looked like kind of a point guard

I mentioned it above, but it deserves more dissection — Knight’s decision-making was overall really good tonight. He had 10 assists with just two turnovers. He still holds the ball a little too long sometimes, he still basically only goes to his right and he still takes unnecessary chances sometimes — exhibit A was when he tried to throw about a 30-foot bounce pass through three defenders … it didn’t work — but he’s getting better. I’m still skeptical he’ll ever be more than a scoring hybrid guard who can occasionally play PG, but he looks improved in a few key areas this season. Hopefully that trend continues.

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Tags: Andre Drummond Brandon Knight Greg Monroe Jason Maxiell Jonas Jerebko Kim English Kyle Singler Lawrence Frank Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince Will Bynum

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