Pistons rout another decent team and are half a game out of the playoff picture

Denver Nuggets 109 Final
Recap | Box Score
126 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -14

Let’s just look at what happened when Monroe played and sat in this game:

8 minutes on court, Nuggets outscore Pistons 23-14
4 minutes on bench, Pistons outscore Nuggets 16-6
5 minutes on court, Nuggets outscore Pistons 15-8
7 minutes on bench, Pistons outscore Nuggets 27-17
17 minutes on court, Pistons outscore Nuggets 41-39
7 minutes on bench, Pistons outscore Nuggets 20-9

Yeah, that’s really bad.

Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 46 MIN | 14-27 FG | 1-4 FT | 10 REB | 8 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 30 PTS | +21

Smith keeps on putting the early season woes behind him. At this rate, he’ll look like he is worth his contract by season’s end.

Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 46 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +14

Singler sat just two minutes in this one. Not a great line, but he managed to stave off fatigue and move well start to finish. On the second night of a back to back. Without getting into foul trouble. This is from a guy who picks up more fouls per minute than Drummond. Excellent effort, Kyle.

Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 35 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 15 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +22

Eight offensive boards on back to back nights, both in games in which the Pistons blew out a team I would have considered significantly superior to them.

When the Pistons win, Drummond usually isn’t their best player. And that was the case tonight. But credit where it’s due: both he and his team (he is still easily the best player overall this season) look to be on a roll.

Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 40 MIN | 11-22 FG | 7-7 FT | 1 REB | 12 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 35 PTS | +29

Efficient scoring? Check. 35 points on 22 shots, that’ll do.
Strong point guard play? Check. 12 assists to two turnovers is a ratio I’d happily take every night.
Good defense? Check. When Jennings was on the floor, he collected two steals while holding Ty Lawson (who’d probably be an all-star in the East) to 2 points on 1-5 shooting. That’s probably his best defensive performance this year.

Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 2 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +8

Jerebko played the last 1:37 of the first half. He had no impact on the outcome of the game.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 12 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

KCP’s defense was mediocre at best as he was late on rotations and several times forced to foul. Also, he contributed nothing on offense. His play from earlier this season probably should have earned him some more minutes, but his play in this game didn’t.

Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 7-15 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +7

Stuckey played well. It’s a bit sad that Jennings did a better job of stopping Lawson than Stuckey did, but really that says more about how good Jennings was in this one than it does about Stuckey. Lawson is a very good player, after all.

Maurice Cheeks

I can’t say I approve of all of his decisions: playing just seven players (two minutes for Jerebko doesn’t count), playing three guys over 40 minutes, continuing to start the big three and Singler over KCP…

But wow, it worked in this one. Back-to-back blowouts of superior teams. Maybe this is fool’s gold; but if this happens a couple more times, I’ll have to seriously consider the possibility that Cheeks is starting to figure out how to use this roster.

Two Things We Saw

  1. For this season to be very worthwhile, I think the Pistons need to snag a sixth seed. To do that in this pitiful Eastern Conference, I expect they’ll have to be over .500. So let’s be really generous and say it will probably only take about a 42-40 record. That would still require the Pistons to finish the season 21-11. I don’t think they can pull that off. But over these past two games, the probability, in my mind, has gone from not a chance to very unlikely.
  2. The Pistons’ big three played 11 minutes altogether tonight. I’m not convinced that plying them all such big minutes can work consistently, but it appears to have more potential than I would have been willing to concede.

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