Josh Smith goes off the rails in Pistons’ loss to Pacers

Indiana Pacers 99 Final
Recap | Box Score
91 Detroit Pistons
Josh Smith, SF 37 MIN | 5-16 FG | 5-8 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 4 TO | 16 PTS | -28

Unlike last game, Smith doesn’t get the same late-in-the-shot-clock reprieve for his poor shooting tonight. Even when Smith shot as the shot clock neared expiration, that was often because he held the ball until it was too late to do anything else. His passing was easily at a season-worst level. His defense of Paul George was ordinary at best, but Smith was active as a help defender.

Greg Monroe, C 35 MIN | 5-10 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -22

The Pacers battered Monroe, but he still produced a quality game. Monroe was working hard defensively and even had a chase-down block of Lance Stephenson. The massive, and seemingly offensively improved, Roy Hibbert gave him trouble, though.

Andre Drummond, C 34 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -18

The Pacers were much more concerned with getting back defensively than grabbing offensive rebounds, so Drummond had several easy boards. He contributed positively defensively, but this was one of his least impactful night.

Chauncey Billups, PG 24 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -15

I knew I shouldn’t have talked my self into believing Billups could consistently replicate his opening-night performance. Billups looked old tonight.

Brandon Jennings, PG 36 MIN | 6-20 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 17 PTS | -7

Jennings was way too erratic during the game’s more-organized stretches, when both teams used their top players. But he provided a spark during the Pistons’ hectic 16-2 run late in the fourth quarter. Wait, don’t the Pistons already have someone for that role?

Luigi Datome, SF 12 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +18

Replacing Jonas Jerebko as the backup power forward, Datome could be dangerous in this role, because he’s such a skilled long-range shooter. A big question will be his defense of opposing bigs, but he worked really hard fronting Luis Scola and pushing Scola off his spots. That worked in a physical game like this one, but on other nights, that brand of defense – necessary given Datome’s size disadvantage as a four – could just draw a lot of foul calls. Oh, it would help if Datome actually made his outside shots (0-of-4 on 3-pointers). I can chalk up tonight to bad bounces and a small sample, but I’m at least aware of the possibility that Datome can’t shoot well, at least right now, while exerting so much energy on the defensive end. Overall, I found Datome’s performance encouraging. It just wasn’t good tonight.

Kyle Singler, SF 27 MIN | 3-7 FG | 7-8 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +26

Singler played hard and made hustle plays on both ends. He seemed to provide exactly what the Pistons needed. His +26 is certainly a bit fluky, but chop that in half, and it still matches what appeared to be a really good effort.

Will Bynum, PG 16 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +6

In his first game as a reserve this season, Bynum entered the game and immediately made his presence known – on defense. Prior to Bynum getting off the bench, the Pacers had been making the Pistons’ defensive rotations look particularly slow. But Bynum was a real pesky defender, and his backcourt steal and layup was a real gem. Overall, his defense checked in as just above average, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. He completed an alley-oop to Drummond, of course, but Bynum’s offense was relatively unremarkable.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 4 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +9

Caldwell-Pope didn’t enter until fewer than four minutes remained and the Pacers led by 17. He played well, though I’m not going to read too much into the sustainability of his shot-making after he hit a couple against a team that had already called it a night. But hopefully, this will give Caldwell-Pope confidence. That’s what he needs most.

Rodney Stuckey, SG 16 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -9

Stuckey repeatedly drove recklessly into the lane, but he didn’t draw any fouls, though he did commit two charges.

Maurice Cheeks

Going to a zone in the first half caught the Pacers off guard and helped get the Pistons back into the game. I also liked giving Datome – rather than Charlie Villanueva –a chance in place of Jerebko. But Josh Smith is hijacking the offense with his missed shots and turnovers. He needs a, even if just slightly, reduced role. The ability of Smith, Monroe and Drummond to each pass well helps the offense flow when those three share the court, but I’m not sure it’s enough. Too many of those passes are turning into turnovers, especially against a top defense like Indiana’s. Also, how did Cheeks not instruct the team to foul down five points with 32 second remaining? A comeback still would have been unlikely, but at least it would have been possible.

Tags: Andre Drummond Brandon Jennings Charlie Villanueva Chauncey Billups Greg Monroe Jonas Jerebko Josh Smith Kyle Singler Lance Stephenson Luis Scola Maurice Cheeks Paul George Rodney Stuckey Roy Hibbert Will Bynum