|Greg Monroe, PF 35 MIN | 6-13 FG | 5-7 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -8 |
Monroe was a strong interior scoring and rebounding force against the smaller Heat. This wasn’t Monroe’s best game, but he definitely took advantage of the matchup as you’d hope he would. The Heat moved the ball well, which both fairly unfairl, made Monroe look bad defensively. Fairly: Monroe is not the most nimble on his feet as the ball swings around the court. Unfairly: Monroe played a lot of center, and when he rotated properly as the primary paint protector, his teammates did a poor job of helping the helper, leaving Monroe’s man easy baskets.
|Josh Smith, SF 38 MIN | 5-20 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 12 PTS | -6 |
Smith actually worked to get some close, though off-balance, shots. It’s almost as if he weren’t totally used to shooting from the interior. Soon enough, Smith drifted back into his comfort zone — the perimeter. As has been a repeated problem, Smith too often makes risky passes that, although they have a high reward, too often lead to turnovers to justify the tradeoff. But he defended LeBron well and really kicked up his defense a notch when the Pistons went on an 11-2 run late in the third quarter, also running the floor well in that stretch.
|Andre Drummond, C 24 MIN | 5-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | -6 |
Drummond sat just two minutes into the game with two fouls, and he didn’t return the rest of the first quarter. He lasted 2:23 into the third quarter before picking up his third foul and sitting the rest of the half. Drummond finished with three fouls. He must do a better job of not fouling, but Maurice Cheeks was the biggest culprit. Why sit the team’s best player for such minor foul trouble? If he fouls out, he fouls out. The consequence would be the exact same one Cheeks imposed, anyway. When Cheeks let him play, Drummond was excellent. He padded his stats a little when the Heat let up late, but the game was not actually decided at that point.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 41 MIN | 7-15 FG | 10-12 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 3 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 26 PTS | -6 |
It’s games like this, when Jennings both made shots look easy and still had a cold stretch bring down his efficiency, that I wonder how he can be shooting 38 percent for the season. He’s really not that bad a shooter. Jennings was opportunistic defensively, really going hard after steals. I really liked his effort on that end, and he even got a couple blocks for his trouble.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3 |
Dwyane Wade absolutely worked Caldwell-Pope, who got a quick hook in both halves. He left just two minutes into the first half and five-and-a-half minutes into the second half, playing only for the final 27 seconds of the first half otherwise. Caldwell-Pope is a good perimeter defender for his age and a great perimeter defender for this Pistons team. But let’s quiet the talk of him being a lockdown defender. Still, what was the point of starting him if he was going to get pulled so easily? It’s not as if his backups shut down Wade, either. Caldwell-Pope did terribly in his limited minutes, and he’s graded only on those, but he probably should have gotten more of a chance.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 11 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +3 |
Jerebko’s defense was lacking, and his shot was off. But he offensively reboundeda Detroit free throw and then hit a stepback turnaround jumper late in the first half, so give him points for degree of difficulty on his one positive play.
|Kyle Singler, SF 33 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -2 |
Someone was likely going to have to take the grade hit and guard LeBron James. Tonight, that was Singler who got lit up by the reigning MVP. Singler didn’t do nearly enough to compensate, even slightly on the other end – though he mixed it up on the offensive glass.
|Will Bynum, PG 15 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -9 |
Bynum was too out of control, even by his usual standard.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 36 MIN | 8-17 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 20 PTS | +7 |
Stuckey didn’t draw a foul on a drive late in the first quarter. In protest, he didn’t run back on defense, allowing the Heat to both get an open 3-point attempt and the offensive rebound when they missed. In the second quarter, he missed a layup and stopped to inspect his shoes rather than get back on defense. When Stuckey bothered to play defense, he was actually pretty good for a while before easing up on that end. However, he never slacked when the ball was in his hands, which was often.
|Maurice Cheeks |
Cheeks got a technical in the second quarter, and then Smith and Monroe got technicals later in the period. Jennings and Norris Cole got double-technicals in the fourth quarter. If there’s a motivational benefit to technical fouls, it didn’t show tonight. The Pistons didn’t play harder after their technicals, only whinier. In the fourth quarter, they had more turnovers (seven) than field goals (six). This was not a team in control of its emotions, and that started with Cheeks. Also, down six with 10 seconds left, the Pistons didn’t foul. In just a two-possession game, I would have fouled, but I’m not going to make a big deal out of that. It would have been very difficult to beat the Heat, who are ramping up their intensity, regardless of any coaching decisions, but Cheeks didn’t make it any easier on his team.