Orlando Magic pack the paint, frustrating Josh Smith-Greg Monroe-Andre Drummond trio in deflating loss

Detroit Pistons 92 Final
Recap | Box Score
109 Orlando Magic
Greg Monroe, PF 21 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -17

The Magic’s pack-the-paint strategy clearly bothered Monroe. He was so frustrated inside, he even showed more willingness to shoot his mid-range jumper, but that didn’t go so well. On defense, Monroe just looked tired.

Josh Smith, SF 22 MIN | 2-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -11

The Magic gave Smith no advantage near the basket, using the strong Tobias Harris and pressure from other bigs who didn’t fear leaving their man. Smith shot just 1-for-9 in the paint. He was tenacious on some defensive possessions, lethargic on others.

Andre Drummond, C 23 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-4 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -20

Drummond got some decent looks inside, but he was just off target. He’s so big, I don’t think Orlando’s heavy presence in the lane affected him as much as it did Smith and Monroe, but it didn’t help. Drummond is such a talented offensive rebounder, though, it’s hard to shut him down. Unfortunately, Drummond’s defense was poor.

Brandon Jennings, PG 31 MIN | 7-16 FG | 6-7 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | -17

Jennings was very aggressive, which was needed tonight, because his teammates were stuck in the mud. He continues to produce on offense. As for defense, he had a nice steal that he turned into a fastbreak. Otherwise, Jennings took a pass on playing defense tonight.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 24 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -8

Arron Afflalo (23 points on 9-of-11 shooting) carved up Caldwell-Pope, even though Caldwell-Pope had a nice steal, block and deflection in the matchup. Caldwell-Pope was invisible on the other end of the floor, which beats detrimental. It’s the small victories.

Josh Harrellson, PF 24 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +5

Sweet pick-and-pop for a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, and that kick-started a solid individual offensive outing. Harrellson’s size allows him to clog the lane on defense, a valuable skill. But quicker bigs, or nearly any big determined to race him down the court, create problems.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 13 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +4

Jerebko hadn’t played more than five minutes in any game the last two-and-a-half weeks, and he responded exactly how you’d hope he would when given a chance. He played with good energy on both ends, bringing life to a dreary team.

Luigi Datome, SF 21 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -2

Datome took all his shoots in the fourth quarter, and I understand the game situation didn’t lend itself to inspired play, but it was like Datome was trying to his best impersonation of an inefficient gunner. Nick Young would be proud, but nobody else. Datome spent about three quarters of his playing time with only one of Detroit’s bigs, making him either a stretch four or combo forward most of his minutes. He worked hard to hold his own in one-on-one defensive assignments, but the Pistons got killed on the glass with Datome in the game.

Kyle Singler, SF 26 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -10

Singler got beat like a drum defensively. At least he moved well around the court, both in transition and the halfcourt, to make a few shots.

Will Bynum, PG 20 MIN | 8-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | -4

This is where Bynum comes in handy. With the Pistons down 19 points entering the fourth quarter, Bynum took over, scoring 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the final period. Turning Bynum loose lowers expected value but increases variances – an excellent tradeoff for a team already down so much. If Bynum leads a comeback, great. If he doesn’t, so what? The game was a likely loss, anyway. Tonight, Bynum did his job, but the deficit was just too great.

Rodney Stuckey, SG 14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -5

Stuckey didn’t play in the second half after appearing to injure his shoulder. He stayed in for another couple possessions, including a turnover after looking uncomfortable dribbling. He quickly stole the ball back, a nice display of effort from a hurt player. Before that, Stuckey made a couple post-up turnaround jumpers and a layup and missed a few pull-up jumpers.

Maurice Cheeks

This was bound to happen to Cheeks. The Magic packed the paint to an extreme degree, a tactic I actually I thought more Detroit opponents would use. And it worked perfectly for them. When Smith, Monroe and Drummond played together, the Pistons’ offensive rating was an astonishingly bad 78.0. Those three couldn’t get any space to operate inside, and when they drifted to the mid-range or beyond, they predictably missed jumpers. Cheeks, adjusting his rotation to minimize the amount of time the trio shared the court, resorted to strange and ineffective lineups. Beyond tonight’s dismal result, it will matter how Cheeks adjusts to such extreme paint packing going forward, because I suspect this won’t be the last time the Pistons see it.

Tags: Andre Drummond Arron Afflalo Brandon Jennings Greg Monroe Jonas Jerebko Josh Harrellson Josh Smith Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Kyle Singler Luigi Datome Maurice Cheeks Orlando Magic Rodney Stuckey THN-ORL Tobias Harris Will Bynum

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