Pistons’ rebounding woes deeper than meet the eye in loss to Trail Blazers


Entering the game, the Trail Blazers ranked third in the league in offensive rebounding percentage (31.9 percent).

The Pistons ranked 23rd in offensive rebounding percentage allowed (27.8 percent).

So, the Trail Blazers grabbing 28.9 percent of available offensive rebounds seems about right. But it’s how they got those rebounds that keyed their 100-78 victory.

First of all, neither team grabbed an offensive rebound in the final 8:17 – once the the game was completely out of hand and there was little incentive to risk crashing the offensive glass. So, the Trail Blazers were even more dominant on the glass than the initial numbers indicate, because they squeezed their impressive numbers into a shorter period of time.

But he bigger reason Portland’s glass dominance meant so much was why they grabbed so many boards.

In an August post about zone defense, NBAPlaybook.com’s Sebastian Pruiti explained why rebounding factors into a reluctance to play zone:

"The main reason is because in zone defense, players are responsible for areas and not an actual player.  This makes it harder to box-out and secure the rebound."

I’m going to offer the corollary to that. The Pistons didn’t box out tonight,* so when the Trail Blazers got offensive rebounds, it was very easy for them to score because nobody was on their man.

Portland had an offensive rating of 175 on possessions after grabbing an offensive rebound. For perspective, the Lakers lead the league with an offensive rating of 118.3. I’m sure teams score more than usual after offensive rebounds, but I’d guess it’s not typically this much more.

*Austin Daye is the exception. He does an excellent job of getting position to box out. That makes him a strong rebounder when playing shooting guard or small forward. When playing power forward, it’s not always enough.

The Trail Blazers’ sizable front court of LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby made this a difficult matchup for the Pistons on paper. The Pistons’ play tonight made it even more difficult.

The Pistons are showing signs of a mentally weak team. When the odds are stacked against them, they give in rather than battling.

It’s still early in the season, but I don’t like this trend.

New level for Villanueva

The only extended period of competence the Pistons showed was an 18-6 run in the second when the were led by – Charlie Villanueva? Yes, Charlie Villanueva.

He looked active on both ends of the court. He worked his way inside on offense. He protected the rim on defense.

That might be the best stretch I’ve seen him play in a Pistons uniform. This wasn’t him getting hot and scoring a bunch of points in a short burst. This was him actually looking like a good, not a lucky, basketball player.

Stuckey’s slow start

For the first time this season, Rodney Stuckey looked extremely passive early in the game. The extent of his offensive contributions in the first nine minutes: making a layup, assisting a Richard Hamilton 20-footer and forcing two jumpers late in the shot clock.

He looked more assertive against the Bobcats – when he was benched.

As I’ve written, the Pistons’ offense is usually much better with one of their two point guards in the game. But when you combine Stuckey standing around the perimeter and Will Bynum’s sloppy game (three turnovers in 14 minutes), that doesn’t really hold true.

Really, the only time the offense flowed smoothly in the first quarter were a few possessions when Hamilton pushed the court and Detroit attacked before Portland set its defense.

Stuckey bounced back to lead the team with a hollow 17 points, but he also looked banged up and was worked on by Arnie Kander.

Ben Wallace makes rare fourth-quarter appearance

After sitting out the last four fourth quarters, Ben Wallace played 3:05 in the final frame with the Pistons down more than 20 points. John Kuester said Wallace would play in fourth quarters, and he did. Maybe Wallace wanted a few minutes to stay loose tonight, but sitting him tonight would have made more sense from the outside than most of the other four games.