It was easy to get distracted during tonight’s laugher of a game between the Pistons and Wizards, and so I occupied myself by laughing at the way Washington’s players continuously ignored Wizards coach Randy Wittman. Wittman is definitely this year’s John Kuester. At one point, after Cartier Martin elbowed Andre Drummond in the throat, cameras showed Wittman clearly agitated, yelling something at Martin in the Washington huddle. Martin got a smirk on his face, shook his head a little and looked like he had about as much interest in what Wittman was saying as the Wizards did in playing a NBA game Friday. If Cartier Martin is showing you up, you are in definite Kuester territory.
As much as there has been to complain about Lawrence Frank this season, he’s clearly nowhere near Wizards territory when it comes to respect from the players. Players aren’t showing him up. They are generally playing pretty hard. When things are going bad, it’s always nice to get a reminder of what things look like when they’re going really bad. Thankfully, the Wizards provided that tonight. Here were a few other random things that stood out to me:
– Drummond, obviously, had a night filled with spectacular plays. He blocked five shots (career high), grabbed 14 rebounds (career high), had some trademark dunks, a couple of fantastic passes and even banked in a free throw. Weirdly, when he got tired in the first half after playing nine straight minutes, I saw something I never thought I would this season. Drummond was gassed and asked to come out of the game, and he clearly needed to … on the possession before he could get replaced, the Wizards got a couple of offensive rebounds that Drummond would normally get to and Kevin Seraphin hit a sweeping hook over him that Drummond would normally swat about 30 feet down the court. For once this season, Frank didn’t want to take Drummond out of the game. I had no idea how to react to that moment.
– When Martin elbowed Drummond and the announcers were looking at the replay, Greg Kelser said that Martin elbowed Drummond “right there on Front Street.” I have no relevant reason to point that out, other than it gives me a chance to link to one of my favorite videos, former Saginaw High coach Lou Dawkins using ‘Front Street’ and other awesome roasts of his players in this video report.
– Slava Kravtsov saw his first action of the season when the Wizards chose him to shoot free throws when Rodney Stuckey was injured and had to leave the game and couldn’t shoot his. Kravtsov was active, but it was definitely easy to see why he hasn’t played a lot — if he catches the ball on offense and doesn’t have a dunk, things get ugly. On one sequence, he had the ball in the paint, did about four pump fakes, pivoted, lost ground and put up a weak shot that was blocked. Somehow he did all of that without traveling, which was pretty miraculous.
This game basically proved what we already know — the Pistons are a bad team, but they’re not as bad as the few bottom feeders in the league. They are significantly better than the Wizards, and anything less than a repeat performance in tomorrow’s game will be a major disappointment.
Note: Technical difficulties tonight, so graphics won’t be in the grades
Jason Maxiell – C-
Maxiell made little impact tonight, but it’s hard to give anyone lower than a C- in a game the team won so easily. The positive, obviously, is that mediocre performances by Maxiell combined with great performances by Drummond are always positive as Drummond’s quest for more minutes continues
Greg Monroe – B+
Monroe had a typical solid performance, but the biggest positive — just one turnover. The occasionally sloppy Monroe made good passes all night and took care of the ball well.
Tayshaun Prince – C-
Prince had a poor shooting game, but was part of a perimeter defense that forced Washington’s guards and wings into some truly awful shooting performances.
Kyle Singler – B-
Singler rebounded well, he defended well, he shot OK, he moved without the ball … nothing to complain about with his performance.
Brandon Knight – B
Like Monroe, he took decent care of the basketball (just two turnovers), he had four assists and he got to the line seven times. He missed a couple of open jumpers that he’d normally make, but that was the only real complaint with his performance tonight.
Austin Daye – D
Daye looked fluid, took shots within the offense and took shots that he should be able to make. But for whatever reason, ‘shots that he should be able to make’ is about the only way to describe Daye anymore. He was 2-for-9 tonight and is just 4-for-17 since re-entering the rotation. He did get seven rebounds and two blocked shots tonight, so at least his poor shooting didn’t cause the other areas of his game to fall off too.
Andre Drummond – A
The Wizards didn’t pose much of a challenge for Drummond, but that’s exactly the type of opponent young players sometimes struggle with. Drummond should dominate the undisciplined team the Wizards put on the floor Friday. Washington definitely helped him out by foolishly challenging him and taking bad chances against him, and Drummond made them pay just about every time someone tested him.
Charlie Villanueva – C-
His best play was finishing off a great Drummond pass for a nice reverse layup. Villanueva didn’t play bad, but he did miss a couple of open jumpers that, as the designated shooter off the bench, he needs to hit.
Rodney Stuckey – A
Stuckey looked great, so hopefully the shot to the face he took in the second half that knocked him out of the game is nothing serious. Stuckey shot 4-for-6 and had five assists and just one turnover in 17 minutes.
Will Bynum – B
Bynum stepped in, shot well (4-for-7) and only turned the ball over once in Stuckey’s absence. He did take one wild three for some reason (there was still time on the shot clock), but other than that, he gave decent backup minutes tonight.
Slava Kravstov – C-
I’m happy Kravtsov finally saw game action, and stepping into the weird situation when Stuckey went out and couldn’t shoot free throws was an awkward way to debut, but he hopped off the bench and made 1-for-2 at the line. He also had a nice dunk. He’s obviously a major work in progress who showed deficiencies even against an inferior Washington lineup, but he’s on the team, so you might as well play him.
Jonas Jerebko – A
Jerebko made the best of his garbage time minutes, with three points, four rebounds and a steal in less than six minutes. If Daye keeps struggling shooting the ball, and Jerebko builds on this, he’ll be back in the rotation soon.