John Kuester must be restrained from Tayshaun Prince in loss to Warriors, Villanueva and Ben Gordon nearly lead Pistons back from 32-point deficit


It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of a late comeback, but it rarely holds significance.

When teams get a big lead, they lose focus, play reserves and stifle  aggressiveness. There are several reasons they should see their lead dwindle, so I can’t get too excited when the trailing team makes a dent.

But the Pistons were down so much tonight (32 points) and played so hard for such a long period of time (eventually cutting the lead to two), this comeback actually meant something. If there were no other factors, even though the Pistons lost to the Warriors, 101-97, the comeback would have given me hope going forward.

But there are other factors.

During a second-quarter timeout, Pistons coach and John Kuester and Tayshaun Prince had another incident. I’ll let those at the game explain.

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

"#Pistons Prince and Kuester going at it in the huddle…Prince throws down towel and barks at Kuester….Kuester walks his way and held back"

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

"Q giving it to Tay and Tay waves him off. Coach Walker separates the 2. #Pistons."

Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

"Prince and Kuester exchange more words. Looks like Kuester asked Tay to leave. Assistant coach Darrell Walker kept approaching Kuester back."

After the game, Kuester said the confrontation was only a result of basketball being an emotional and passionate game. I don’t buy it. But that’s a smart answer for Kuester to give and maintain some control of this team. Given the circumstances, Kuester’s answer is probably the most honest and reasonable one could have provided.*

*I could have gone without him praising Prince for his second-half intensity, though. To the surprise of Goodwill and Ellis, both of whom who saw Rodney Stuckey get benched, Prince started the second half. But Prince didn’t show much in the third quarter and returned late in the fourth quarter just in time to ignore a wide-open Stuckey cutting to the basket on an inbound pass and contribute nothing else.

Prince’s answers threw me for a bit of a loss, though.

He can be combative with the media at worst. At best, he appears annoyed to be taking questions. But tonight, he seemed at ease, more than I’d ever seen him when talking about something unpleasant.

I’m not sure what that means. Could it mean Prince no longer cares? Could he think, “let the media in, there’s nothing worth guarding anymore?” I don’t know.

Regardless of his motivation, Prince was pretty candid. He blamed frustration and said, “You can call me the bad guy,” and, “Maybe the way I handled it wasn’t the right way.” He set himself up perfectly to apologize.

But, besides the aforementioned statements, he was unapologetic, and it would be a stretch to consider them apologetic. Instead, he said he acted the same way with Flip Saunders and Larry Brown (and I assume Michael Curry, but I can see why he’d repress those memories). Prince’s basic message: This is how I am. Deal with it. Everyone else has.

Prince repeated the same phrase in his interview: “I felt I had something to say. He felt he had something to say.”

These are two men whose views differ too greatly. I’m not sure who’s right. I won’t pretend to know. But something has to give.

Don’t chalk this up to a blogger being angry. That’s just covering up the issue.

The Pistons have a real problem, and it’s not getting any better.

Like I thought after the Celtics game, Prince is still professional enough to do his job without complaint most nights. But that’s only a band-aid for the issue. Incidents like these will continue to occur.

If he’s the same person he’s been, Prince needs to go. I don’t see how he’ll handle the disappointments of playing for a losing team in productive matter. It’s one thing to hate losing. It’s another for losing to prevent him from helping the team.

But you might notice I said if he’s the same person he’s been. After the game, Prince didn’t sound like himself. He almost sound like someone who’s thrown caution to the wind. All the insecurities and protective instincts that overtook his previous interview were gone.

It’s almost like Prince doesn’t care anymore. He has no use for the charade. He can be who he wants to be. He’ll have the option to leave at the end of the season.

If that’s the case – well, I don’t know. I have no idea what to expect from Prince going forward.

Remember when he used to be the Pistons’ most consistent player? Strange times now.

The comeback

Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey keyed the Pistons’ comeback.

Villanueva (being active on both ends and hitting shots) and Gordon (hitting shots) did the same things they’d been doing all season.

But Stuckey contributed in ways he hadn’t yet before, at least not to this extent. He rebounded in traffic. He dove for loose balls. He looked to pass first.

You can’t expect Stuckey to play this way every night, and he probably shouldn’t. His strengths are elsewhere. But it’s nice to see he has those skills in the bag.

Anatomy of a run

The Warriors went on a 20-0 run in the first half that put the game out of reach. Disappointingly, it was an entire-team breakdown. Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Tracy McGrady, Austin Daye, Charlie Villanueva and Jason Maxiell all played during the run.

Greg Monroe (+13) and Rodney Stuckey (+9) were the only rotation players not to see the court, so it’s no wonder they led Detroit in plus-minus.

Here’s a breakdown of the disaster:

  • Time: 5:18
  • Warriors offensive rating: 166.7
  • Pistons offensive rating: 0.0
  • Pistons turnovers: five
  • Bynum turnovers: two
  • Pistons shots inside 17 feet: one

Daye returns to starting lineup

I owe John Kuester an apology. Yesterday, I doubted whether Austin Daye really sat against the Kings because of a matchup problem.

That appears to be the case. In a more favorable matchup, Daye started and played well.

Unfortunately, his streak of consecutive 3-pointers made ended at 10 – three short of the record.

On the bright side, the legend of Terry Mills will live on.