Detroit dominates the paint, LA dominates the arc, Refs prove to be the tiebreaker as Lakers sweep Pistons

Los Angeles Lakers 106 FinalRecap | Box Score 102 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, PF 35 MIN | 9-15 FG | 1-3 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | -3Monroe ran the floor well, kept at the boards (although many ended up in the hands of his teammates), and played stout D as long as he was just standing his ground. Also, he got the Pistons’ first bucket from outside the paint.The Lakers couldn’t back Monroe down, but they could go around him. Cheeks needs to figure out how to optimize that strength/weakness combo.
Josh Smith, SF 44 MIN | 4-16 FG | 0-4 FT | 19 REB | 8 AST | 5 STL | 2 BLK | 5 TO | 8 PTS | -2Smith was a beast everywhere. He played exactly the kind of manic intensity game you hope to see from him every night. Unfortunately, he couldn’t hit a shot if his life depended on it. As was the case with Monroe, Detroit needed Smith to hit his free throws.
Andre Drummond, C 16 MIN | 5-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +9Drummond piled up stats at an obscene rate while on the floor. Unfortunately, he was committing too many fouls and getting whistled for too many that he didn’t commit. Drummond also hit 3 straight free throws after failing to make consecutive ones so far in any other game.Cheeks should know he probably won’t play Drummond down the stretch for fear of Hack-A-Dre. Why on earth does he pull him out of the game with 4 fouls in the 3rd quarter?
Brandon Jennings, PG 41 MIN | 8-17 FG | 3-5 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 19 PTS | -2Jennings put up good counting stats yet again including a gorgeous fast break oop to Pope. And he carried the Pistons down the stretch. Unfortunately, if Jennings is the guy carrying you, it’s tough to win. Then Jennings missed two huge free throws with a chance to tie up the game. He needs to hit those, but in a game when he made as many shots from outside the paint as the rest of Detroit combined (3), the blame for letting a big lead slip away really belongs elsewhere.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 15 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +6Pope hustled, made athletic layups, and looked decent out there. But the Pistons got torched by Johnson and Williams from beyond the arc. Pope should have been the one stopping them, or at least Johnson.A commenter referred to Pope as “one of the better shooters in the draft”. I had to conclude he hasn’t watched much Pistons’ ball this year.
Josh Harrellson, PF 12 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +3Harrellson was active on offense and useless on defense. He deserved his limited minutes in this game. Also, what was he doing inside? The Pistons desperately needed shooting, more in this game than any other, and he is one of the best options to provide it.
Charlie Villanueva, PF 4 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -2Villanueva tapped a rebound away from Jennings into Sacre’s hands. He got lucky that Sacre bobbled it out of bounds, but stealing boards from teammates is a pet peeve of mine. I lambasted Siva for it a few games ago and Villanueva earned the same.
Kyle Singler, SF 33 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -17Singler played good help defense inside, but the Pistons desperately needed someone to step up and stop the 3 point barrage. After Pope, Singler was the best candidate. He gets the plus on his D though for hitting the Pistons’ only 3.
Peyton Siva, PG 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -2Siva played good defense (Farmar was 1-4 with Siva in) and mostly avoided sloppiness. One of his TOs was just a terrible call. Both of his feet were clearly in.
Rodney Stuckey, SG 33 MIN | 8-17 FG | 6-9 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | -10Stuckey bulled his way inside time and again, hitting a high percentage of his shots. Toward the end, though, he settled for jumpers. I would blame him for that much more if the refs hadn’t been complete idiots. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anyone besides LeBron and Howard absorb that much contact without getting the whistle.To wit, on one drive, he had two different Lakers hit him in the face without getting a call. On another drive, Wesley Johnson held his forearm down as he tried to shoot and again, no call.
Maurice Cheeks
Cheeks was useless. Most notably, his asinine decision to bench Drummond that I mentioned earlier. But he needed to make tighter coverage of Lakers behind the arc the biggest point of emphasis. Also, in the Pistons’ worst shooting game of the season, he stubbornly refused to give much burn to their few plus shooters.

Three Things We Saw

  1. The officiating was awful. There weren’t many 50/50 calls to go either way, but blatantly bad calls were repeatedly made in the Lakers’ favor. I mentioned some of the missed hacks on Stuckey earlier and the ridiculous Siva TO. Also, Drummond picked up his 4th foul on what would have been a no call if Hill hadn’t rolled his ankle. Pope got whistled for fouling Johnson on a play when he never touched him. Jordan Farmar clearly knocked a ball out of bounds late in the fourth but it was called Lakers ball and then he immediately buried a three. And finally, Josh Smith’s game losing offensive foul doesn’t happen if Shawne Williams doesn’t push him into Nick Young.The Lakers incredibly sloppy offense and rebounding meant Detroit should have won this even with Williams and Johnson channeling the spirits of Curry and Thompson. But the repeated bad calls were too much to overcome. My grades may seem generous, but that’s because I think the Pistons easily win this contest if it is close to fairly officiated.
  2. The Pistons managed to go 29 minutes without ever hitting a shot from outside the paint. I don’t know if that has ever happened before to any NBA team, but I’ve certainly never seen it. Monroe finally hit one halfway through the third, followed by a Singler three and one jumper each by Stuckey and Jennings. Jennings got two more in the 4th and that was it. 6 jump shots all game.Jennings also actually hit a 60 footer just before the halftime buzzer, but it was waved off as a TO before the shot.
  3. Related to the previous point, the Pistons scored an NBA season high 76 points in the paint.

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