Welp, I just finished re-watching the first three quarters of tonight's game and, after watching the final 10 minutes of the Michigan State debacle, I'm just about ready to pop the rest of these Extra Strength Tylenols and wash it all down with some Scope. I've certainly exhausted my tolerance of sloppy basketball for the night.
But we've seen this before. I've documented before how the Pistons struggle to close out quarters (and halves and games), so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see the Pistons allow the Rockets to close out the first half on a 20-2 run in the final five-plus minutes and the second half on a 19-6 run in the finishing seven-plus minutes.
That's 39-8 in just over a quarter of play. Nope, not going to win any games getting outscored like that in a quarter of the game.
It also doesn't help to let a certain Argentinian drop 35 points on 16-25 shooting.
Let's follow up the shortest, least informative recap ever with some of the lengthiest - also uninformative - bullets ever, after the jump:
- Like most NBA teams, the Pistons are capable of putting together enough runs of their own to keep things interesting. What preceded the 20-2 Rockets run to close out the second quarter was a 19-5 Pistons run, which was sparked by an interesting, NEW John Kuester lineup consisting of Tracy McGrady, Ben Gordon, Austin Daye, Chris Wilcox and Greg Monroe. Yes, in the 22nd game of the season, Kuester managed to piece together yet another rotation, and a good one at that. Striking gold, albeit temporarily, is not bad for a coach whose top four utilized units this season are all in the negative in point differential, the only team besides the MFRaptors who can say they have such a futile top four units.
- 18 turnovers, 14 assists. I'd be willing to bet my law school loans that any time their turnovers are more than their assists the Pistons lose. Yup, I checked after making the bet -- the Pistons are 0-8 when they turn it over more than they service themselves. Pay up.
- Austin Daye was the most efficient Piston, scoring 12 points on 4-6 shooting (2-2 downtown). He played 18 minutes.
- Tracy McGrady was good in his homecoming (3-6 shooting, 11 points - his second highest point total this season - 3 assists/3 turnovers and 1 steal in 23 minutes), but he wasn't great. I don't think we'll ever see great T-Mac again, and, thus, it hurts the Pistons when he tries to be great T-Mac. For example, after being called for a ticky-tack foul on a Shane Battier made runner, T-Mac got angry and tried to take over. However, instead of displaying vintage T-Mac grace, or even the wily vet T-Mac presence, he looked more like a possessed Stuckey and ran over Luis Scola for a charging foul. The Pistons were within 5 still at that point and couldn't really afford that.
- Greg Monroe has seen at least 24 minutes in the last 5 games (26 mpg) and he hasn't disappointed. He's shooting 17-26 in that span, averaging 8 points, almost 5 rebounds and a block per game. Perhaps most importantly, he's active on defense and making hustle plays.
- Richard Hamilton was ejected in the 2nd quarter when he (purposely?) allowed his frustrations to boil over after a couple misses and no calls. That's now three ejections in 22 games. For some perspective on that, Rasheed Wallace was ejected 7 times in the 2000-2001 season when he racked up an NBA single-season record 41 technical fouls. After 22 games, Rip's on pace for at least 11 ejections. Nice segue into my two favorite comments of the night:
- At least Ben Gordon took advantage of the extra minutes, NOT! He was 3-11 shooting tonight and is 10-36 in the last 3 games, games he's seen 30+ minutes.
- 3rd quarter collapse no more?? The Pistons average 3rd quarter margin in the last three games is ZERO (hallelujah!) and the Nets have surpassed them as the worst team in the NBA in the third quarter (in terms of 3rd quarter margin). Let's touch hands.
- Best news? No time to dwell on this one, as the Pistons head to N'awlins to take on the 7th, or so, best team in the NBA in less than 24 hours. Can't wait.
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