This season was lost long ago, and even playing for pride seems unattainable. At this point, many Pistons – several of whom would probably like to join different team next year – are playing for the offseason.
Tonight would have been more enjoyable if Austin Daye’s buzzer-beating 3-point attempt from the corner – which came two seconds after he hit a 3-pointer to bring the Pistons within one – rattled in instead of out. Tonight would have been more enjoyable if the Pistons snapped their road losing streak at 10 instead of extending it to 11, tied for the 12th-longest road losing streak in franchise history. Tonight would have been more enjoyable if Detroit, which showed plenty of hustle and energy, was rewarded with a win instead of a 107-105 loss to the Wizards.
But none of those outcomes would change the likelihood any current Pistons remaining on the roster when the team next competes for a championship. Hopefully, a couple players learned lessons tonight that will help them fit that profile.
If Monroe didn’t understand what he’s capable of, he should know now. If Stuckey didn’t understand what rock bottom is, he should know now.
Monroe had a career game with 22 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, four steals (tied for a career high) and a block in 43 minutes. Detroit will never be able to count on this much production from Monroe on a regular basis, but Monroe can play this way every game – crashing the glass, defending adequately and working out of the high post.
Stuckey didn’t play for the second straight contest after refusing to enter the Bulls game. The Pistons have already backed themselves into a corner with him. This summer, their two most likely options will be overpaying him or losing a talented, young player for nothing. Tonight, he could’ve helped defend John Wall (26 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, four steals and two blocks). But benching him again and hoping he emerges on the other side a more humble player, a better teammate and a harder worker was probably Detroit’s best bet.
The Pistons have put both players on very different paths, but the end game is the same for both: hoping Monroe and Stuckey learned something tonight.
When tonight’s game ended, the scoreboard showed Detroit’s 51st loss of the season. But we won’t know the more meaningful result until much later.
Greg Monroe’s free-throw shooting improves, not quite enough for a win
Greg Monroe’s key numbers – 22 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block – were impressive, but not unprecedented individually. He had matched each of those marks before, just never in the same game.
But his 8-of-10 free-throw shooting tonight was unprecedented. Monroe had previously never made more than six free throws in a game (shooting 6-of-8 once and 6-of-9 once), and in his best perfect-from-the-stripe performance, he shot 4-of-4.
Monroe’s free-throw percentage has steadily risen this season, and now, it’s above 60 for the first time:
Monroe actually made his first eight free throws tonight before missing two with 10 seconds left and the Pistons down two. If you want a silver lining to the misses, they gave Monroe another chance to show why he’s the most likable player on the team. After the game, he tweeted:
"coach kuester takes tayshaun prince out of the game, prince asks kuester a question, and kuester ignores him"
For all we know, Prince asked Kuester, “Why are you so stupid?” But if Prince asked a legitimate question and Kuester ignored him, that’s not right.
I wouldn’t jumped to any conclusions, but it’s worth monitoring whether this anecdote repeats itself.
Solid effort by Chris Wilcox
Chris Wilcox (10 points, nine rebounds and two assists) played well tonight. He’s earning himself more money this summer (or whenever the lockout ends).
I wonder whether his strong second half makes the Pistons more likely to re-sign him or whether he’s playing himself out of Detroit’s budget.
Solid, quiet effort by Austin Daye
Before his late 3-pointer and last-second near-miss, Austin Daye had a pretty quiet game. Daye finished with 14 points and six rebounds in 25 minutes.
I think it says a lot about his progress that he can play that well without drawing a ton of attention to himself. Good games are becoming more routine from him, and that’s fitting of a starter.
Brick City Hamilton
Richard Hamilton must have picked up some of the bad-shooting karma in Houston, where he watched his alma mater, Connecticut, win Monday’s NCAA national championship game. He shot just 1-of-11 tonight.
Hamilton, who also had three turnovers, forced his shot a bit. But he also missed a lot of looks he usually makes.
He’s played very well lately, and I hope tonight’s performance is just a blip on the radar.
Ben Wallace shakes off rust
Ben Wallace played for the first time since March 30, and it showed. He had two rebounds, a block and a steal in eight minutes, which is fine.
But he also picked up three fouls in that short span. Wallace’s specialty is defending without fouling, so when he left the court shaking his head after that third foul, I couldn’t help but think the answer to the headline of my earlier on Wallace is yes.
Wallace didn’t play in the second half, but after the game, he showed more leadership than I’ve seen anyone provide on the team this year. Via Mobley:
"monroe almost snuck out w/out talking, before 1 writer caught him. ben wallace joked: "dont act like you dont see them greg, thats wrong""
Ben Gordon injures knee