|Jason Maxiell, PF 30 MIN | 5-10 FG | 5-6 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | +12It’s strange considering Maxiell’s athleticism and energy have always been his greatest assets as a Piston, but his 15-footer has become a really important component in the team’s offense. When he’s hitting it — and he has been most of the season — the Pistons offense is much more competitive.|
|Tayshaun Prince, SF 33 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +16Prince, most importantly, played really good defense on Paul Pierce tonight. And on top of that, he also contributed offensively. Prince has a tendency to wear himself out on D in his best defensive performances and not have much left for the offensive end. That wasn’t the case tonight.|
|Kyle Singler, SF 24 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | +8The Pistons are 2-1 with Singler as a starter and very close to being 3-0 aside from an awful half a fourth quarter against the Magic. Singler’s shooting is obviously important, but the simple fact that he’s a player who is effective without having to dominate the ball is the biggest factor in his success.|
|Greg Monroe, C 32 MIN | 8-11 FG | 4-5 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +11Monroe has received plenty of A’s this season. He gets the A+ tonight because he was solid defensively. He had two steals, but beyond that, he matched the physicality of Kevin Garnett, no easy task. Monroe has a tendency to avoid contact on defense, and he didn’t do that at all tonight. One of his best efforts at that end of the floor.|
|Brandon Knight, PG 24 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +7It’s hard to give anyone a bad grade considering how great the Pistons played as a team in this win, but Knight had easily his worst game of the season. The big issue, no surprise, was turnovers. Knight has done a better job taking care of the ball overall this season, so hopefully this was just a one game thing.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +2Jerebko is slumping. After a strong start to the season, he’s averaging fewer than three points per game and shooting just 7-for-28 over that stretch. That slump happens to coincide with Jerebko taking a couple of nasty shots in the Sacramento game, so maybe he’s a bit injured or something. Corey Maggette returning has also ate into his minutes.|
|Corey Maggette, SF 14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 11 PTS | +3This was easily Maggette’s best game as a Piston. The offense was solid and he was getting to the line, but he also played physical perimeter defense off the bench, made a couple hustle plays (including skying to catch a pass that should’ve resulted in a turnover for the Pistons) and for the first time this season, looked like he had his legs under him while he was playing.|
|Andre Drummond, C 18 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +11Drummond was solid in limited minutes (that should be his nickname). This certainly wasn’t a bad performance, but it wasn’t his best either. Defensively, he bit hard on a couple of KG pump fakes, but Drummond is probably susceptible to that sort of thing against the smarter veteran bigs in the league.|
|Will Bynum, PG 21 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 5 AST | 7 PTS | +11Bynum stepped in nicely with Knight struggling. He had five assists and no turnovers and the offense just ran much more smoothly with him in the game tonight. That doesn’t happen often, but Bynum has been noticeably better this season as a halfcourt PG than he has been in the past.|
|Rodney Stuckey, PG 31 MIN | 4-10 FG | 6-6 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 14 PTS | +17Stuckey’s performance is another reason the Pistons could keep Knight on the bench. Stuckey also had five assists and zero turnovers as he and Bynum shared point guard responsibilities off the bench. Stuckey was more aggressive, getting to the line six times, and he was also doing things like diving after loose balls, which Stuckey hasn’t always been known to do in the past. He looked very comfortable in this role, without the responsibility of having to be defined as either guard position while he was in the game. He just played.|
|Lawrence Frank, Head Coach We’re all just going to have to live with the fact that Frank is not going to play Drummond enough to satisfy most fans (more on that in a minute). What I was impressed with tonight — the Pistons had a really awful loss on Friday against a bad team at home. They blew a late lead, and looked really passive doing it. Frank deserves credit for having the Pistons ready to play hard, physical and well against a good team in Boston just a day later. If he were a great coach, they probably wouldn’t have lost to Orlando. But if he were a bad coach, they definitely would’ve followed that up with a loss tonight too. Also, the Pistons had 12 turnovers at halftime and just four in the second half, so Frank should get some credit for those adjustments that the team made in the second half.|
Why I’m done writing about Drummond’s minutes for now
As I noted, we have a large enough body of work to suggest that Drummond deserves more than the 15-18 minutes per game he’s been playing this season. But we also have a large enough body of work to suggest that Frank is not going to increase those minutes in the immediate future. Frank gives non-answers to the question when he’s asked about it and doesn’t really explain why. From a fan’s perspective, it’s certainly frustrating. But for right now, I’m just going to treat Drummond as what he is — the team’s primary backup center. I could devote words every game making a case that Drummond could’ve helped in certain points when the defense faltered, but that will get old to read. It certainly gets old to write.
I don’t know what will become of Frank or the Pistons this season. Tonight was certainly a good sign that the team hasn’t tuned him out — thanks to the John Kuester era, it should be clear to everyone what it looks like when a losing team tunes out its coach. They played better and more physical defense tonight than they have at any point this season. They have a more favorable schedule coming up than the one they started the season with. I think it’s conceivable that the team wasn’t as bad as they looked through the first eight games of the season. I’m still an advocate of Drummond playing more. His numbers back it up, his effort has been good and he’s been better than the other non-Monroe options up front. But if Drummond continues in the 15-18 minute range and the Pistons begin to play more competitively, win more games and improve defensively, there will hopefully be better things to write about in the coming weeks than doing the equivalent of facepalming at the lack of time for Drummond in these recaps.
So, that recent Boston dominance is nice
The Pistons won two-of-three from the Celtics last season and now won the first meeting this season. The Celtics are actually one of the few good teams that’s not a complete mismatch up front for the Pistons. Garnett is still a great player, but he’s more of a jump-shooter than a post player on offense at this point and Boston is also undersized with Brandon Bass and Jared Sullinger in their frontcourt rotation. It’s mostly just one of those flukey things that sometimes happen in the NBA, but of all the good teams to have that record against over the last season plus, I certainly don’t hate seeing it against Boston.