John Loyer brings welcome passion, more-welcome victory to Pistons in debut

San Antonio Spurs 100 Final
Recap | Box Score
109 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 37 MIN | 7-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +15

Just an all-around strong game on both ends of the floor. Remember when Monroe looked engaged offensively and defensively early in the season? That two-way enthusiasm returned tonight. It almost seemed as if Monroe has a fresh start.

Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 38 MIN | 4-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | +9

Smith had a very impressive fastbreak dunk, but otherwise, he settled for too many jumpers. On a night so many of his teammates played passionately, Smith, who generally plays hard, faded into the background a bit. His defense was strong, though.

Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 32 MIN | 3-11 FG | 2-4 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +16

It’s not Singler’s fault, but he’s a step slow defending shooting guards, and the Spurs took advantage. A cold shooting night doesn’t help either.

Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 26 MIN | 7-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +5

Drummond was blocking shots with such ease, he was directing his rejections toward his teammates – even off the backboard once – to start fastbreaks. That’s some next-level defense (and offense).

Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 32 MIN | 8-18 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +15

Jennings tuned cold in the fourth quarter, shooting 0-for-4, as the offense stalled. But before that, he played with great flare. Jennings took some wild shots – and made them – while still keeping his teammates involved.

Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 10 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0

Jerebko, to his credit, played within himself. He’s getting comfortable in the rotation and not pressing. But if Jerebko playing within himself means so little production, maybe Luigi Datome deserves another chance at playing time.

Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 16 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -6

John Loyer’s most notable change was Bynum’s return to the rotation. Bynum and Maurice Cheeks feuded against the Magic, and then Cheeks benched Bynum for the last two games. Well, Cheeks is gone now, so Bynum is back.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 21 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -3

The Spurs’ sophisticated offense challenged Caldwell-Pope defensively, and he shot a woeful 1-for-5 on 3-pointers. Yet, Caldwell-Pope still salvaged a decent game. That’s no easy feat for a rookie who’s skillset has been limited for most of the season and a real credit to Caldwell-Pope’s competitiveness.

Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 28 MIN | 7-13 FG | 6-8 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | -6

Stuckey was especially aggressive with the ball in his hands tonight. At times, he he definitely veered over the line of remaining in control, but that mindset helped him much more than it hurt him.

John Loyer

I have little idea what to make of Loyer after only one game, but I quite enjoyed watching him coach. I wrote about him at ESPN. An excerpt:

Loyer — whose last multigame head-coaching stint was at Wabash Valley College — jumped into his new post with aplomb and a refreshing passion. He roamed the sideline, encouraging his players to run offensively and demanding they close on shooters defensively.

The Pistons responded, playing with extra bounce while building a lead that peaked at 23 points over one of the NBA’s top teams.

the Pistons have run through failed coaches: Flip Saunders (too offensively minded), Michael Curry (too inexperienced), John Kuester (too meek), Lawrence Frank (too rigid) and Cheeks (too terrible).

Could Loyer be the just-right porridge?

Despite Monday’s result, it’s doubtful. He hasn’t been a hot commodity on the coaching market and got this chance mostly by being in the right place at the right time.

He came to Detroit with Frank in 2011 and, as a former Cheeks assistant in Philadelphia and Portland, stayed through the transition last summer. The Pistons reportedly also offered Lionel Hollins a spot on Cheeks’ staff, but the former Memphis Grizzlies coach turned them down, and they failed to add a logical successor for Cheeks.

So Loyer, who’s respected for passion toward coaching, got the big opportunity in a season in which the playoffs are still realistic. In fact, the Pistons are now tied with the Charlotte Bobcats for the No. 8 seed.

Wouldn’t it be something if Loyer, the byproduct of two failed regimes, becomes the coach who finally succeeds in Detroit?

We can’t know what his future holds, but Loyer should feel good on his first night as an active head coach.

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Tags: Andre Drummond Brandon Jennings Flip Saunders Greg Monroe John Kuester John Loyer Jonas Jerebko Josh Smith Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Kyle Singler Lawrence Frank Luigi Datome Maurice Cheeks Michael Curry Rodney Stuckey San Antonio Spurs THN-SAS Will Bynum

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