Pistons play like turkeys, get gobbled up by Bulls

Chicago Bulls 99 Final
Recap | Box Score
79 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, PF 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -12

Monroe wasn’t imposing his will in any way. So, when Maurice Cheeks realized Detroit’s three-big lineup couldn’t cover the mid-range well enough against Chicago (see more in the Cheeks section), Monroe became the big to sit. Monroe’s 22 minutes are by far a season low, and that’s what he deserved tonight. Hopefully, the extra rest has him in peak form Friday.

Josh Smith, SF 34 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-4 FT | 11 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 13 PTS | -17

He struggled to guard Luol Deng (27 points on 11-of-17 shooting), but Smith was fine defensively when matched up with Chicago’s bigs. Smith had some nice offensive moves, including a behind-the-back pass to give Greg Monroe a layup. But the flash was tarnished by Smith forcing a few too many bad shots and dangerous passes.

Andre Drummond, C 39 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -20

Drummond covered a lot of ground defensively and was only occasionally successful. Is he playing his assignment in the Pistons’ aggressive defense, or is he getting out of position? I’d like to see him stay home more often, allowing others to apply pressure. Offensively, the Pistons have to get Drummond the ball more in the halfcourt. He’s too valuable to shoot only 10 times if most of the attempts come in transition or off offensive rebounds, as was the case tonight.

Brandon Jennings, PG 33 MIN | 5-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -17

In the game’s first seven minutes, Jennings was 3-of-3 for eight points. So, he forced the mother of all heat-check 3-pointers. Of course, it missed, and Jennings’ wasted only one possession attempting to prove the research of Sandy Weil. I suppose that could have been worse. After that, Jennings settled into his typical, but not extreme, poor shot selection. Defensively, Jennings is establishing himself as someone who can be an absolute pest on the ball and in passing lanes, but someone who can get lost in team defense.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 19 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -6

Every other Pistons starter made a shot in the game’s first four-and-a-half minutes, so Caldwell-Pope faded into the background. He can’t be that fragile. Passable defense – at times – saves Caldwell-Pope from failing on a night his offense ranged from passive to putrid.

Tony Mitchell, PF 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2

Getting offensive rebounds is a nice first step, but now Mitchell must improve on what he does after that. Missing a pair of free throws is not the answer, and neither is falling while losing his balance. But that’s why Mitchell plays in these moments: To get more comfortable on the court and gain composure.

Josh Harrellson, PF 8 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -4

Harrellson is adept at using his big frame to create creases in the post, and he’s not afraid to bang inside defensively. But when opposing bigs use speed moves on him, he’s in trouble.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 11 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1

Jerebko played non-descript enough that this game won’t hurt his case for playing time, but it won’t be the impetus for his return to the rotation, either. Jerebko staring at the ceiling after missing a layup late summed up the night for the Pistons.

Charlie Villanueva, PF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +4

When he entered the game in the second quarter, Villanueva played as if he knew he had a rotation spot. Unlike many nights, he didn’t immediately force his shot in a bid to prove his worthiness. Then suddenly, Villanueva tried to cross over Joakim Noah, who stole the ball, and then forced a 3-pointer at the next opportunity. He didn’t play in the second half.

Luigi Datome, SF 2 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +2

Datome made both his shots in the closing moments of garbage time, but to be persnickety, both were long 2s that should have been 3s. But Datome was not aware enough of where he was on the court and set up just inside the arc. He also played tough defense on the perimeter to force a turnover.

Kyle Singler, SF 22 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -14

Beside putting back an airballed Harrellson 3-pointer, Singler had only one notable offensive play – and it didn’t count. He got up court in a hurry, spotted up beyond the arc and made a 3-pointer. But he stepped out of bounds on the sideline before the shot. Someone check his glasses. Singler was involved so little offensively because he was working his tail off to do what Smith couldn’t: Defend Luol Deng. Singler had the best results of any Piston on Deng, and the second-year small forward might be positioning himself for a bigger role. If Cheeks ever brings one of the starting bigs off the bench, I’d be shocked if Singler doesn’t move into the starting lineup.

Will Bynum, PG 15 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -3

The offense just flowed really poorly when he was in the game. Bynum didn’t shoot well and missed pass openings.

Rodney Stuckey, SG 29 MIN | 9-16 FG | 7-8 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 25 PTS | -14

It was once a huge deal whenever Stuckey dunked. Tonight, he dunked twice, including this hammer. He balanced those slams with a strong mid-range game, too. Stuckey was active on defense, but sometimes that was only because he had to after getting out of position.

Maurice Cheeks

The Bulls made 15-of-20 mid-range shots (75 percent), an incredible stat for two reasons. 1. League average from that range is just 40 percent. 2. It didn’t seem fluky the Bulls shot so well from there, because they were so open. As, I’ve mentioned before, Smith, Monroe and Drummond lack the foot speed to cover as much ground outside the paint as a frontcourt collectively should. Cheeks adjusted by going to more two-big lineups, primarily sitting Monroe. But the bigs weren’t the only issue. If the Pistons are going to play an aggressive defense, they’ll likely allow more than their share of open shots. That’s OK, at least in theory, because an aggressive defense can lead to more forced turnovers and, theoretically, more transition opportunities and a better offense. If the Pistons are going to grant open shots, I’m fine with mid-range looks to frontcourt players. That’s still better than allowing shots at the rim and 3-pointers. Taj Gibson especially took advantage by scoring 23 points on 11-of-13 shooting, getting many open looks from mid-range. Those mid-range makes were a huge reason the Bulls won tonight, but do it all over again, and I still might cede many of those attempts. Cheeks picked the right poison. The Bulls just had the antidote tonight.

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Tags: Andre Drummond Brandon Jennings Charlie Villanueva Chicago Bulls Greg Monroe Jonas Jerebko Josh Harrellson Josh Smith Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Kyle Singler Luigi Datome Luol Deng Maurice Cheeks Rodney Stuckey Taj Gibson THN-CHI Tony Mitchell Will Bynum

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