The Pistons gained ground on the New Orleans Hornets in more ways than one on Friday night. They didn't utterly embarrass themselves like they did back in February and they are now only a game and a half behind the Hornets for better lottery odds. March Moral victory?
Down seven with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Pistons rattled off a 9-0 run over the next two minutes that was capped fittingly by a Greg Monroe dunk. Ironically, a Rodney Stuckey offensive rebound preceded the dunk. ESPN's box score said the game was over.
After that, though, four points from two huge Hornets offensive rebounds and a horrible three-point shot by Rodney Stuckey helped NOLA take the game. Al-Farouq Aminu, who dominated the Pistons on the boards with eight offensive rebounds and 14 overall, sealed the game with two free throws, two more than Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey attempted all game.
I didn't realize just how bad the Stuckey three was until after the game (H/T MrHappyMushroom). According to MLIVE, Stuckey hadn't hit a three since before the last Pistons-Hornets game, February 9. OH FOR 12 since. 12 is also his three-point success rate in his last 19 games. Anything outside the three-point line should have been seen as hot molten lava for him. Don't even stand out or feets will burn.
"It was a mix-up," Monroe said. "You've just got to keep your focus at that point of the game. We had our chance to get a good shot, a lot of time on the clock, so the focus has got to be there. It was a mix-up and that's just unacceptable at that point in the game." ...
"I think some of us thought that it was supposed to be on the other side," Stuckey said. "So it was just kind of miscommunication. But we've just got to have better focus coming out of the timeout, to make sure we've got the play right."
"Don't let Stuckey have a chance to shoot the game-tying three" seems like it should be a pretty easy play to remember. Oh well.
That one play didn't lose it for the Pistons, though. The Pistons were outscored 27-20 in the third quarter and by 13 points at the charity stripe. The Hornets made up more than the final score's difference on second-chance points from their seven extra offensive rebounds. Most of the rebound discrepancy came from the Hornets' exciting young point guard Greivis Vasquez dominating in breaking down the Pistons' defense all night, forcing Pistons big men out of position. He finished with 25 points and nine assists opposite zero turnovers. He's very good.
The Pistons sans Andre Drummond are not.
• Greg Monroe had 25 points and 10 rebounds, but only grabbed three rebounds in the second half.
• Knight didn't get to the free throw line, but he did have 22 points on 10 for 18 shooting. That's an acceptable performance for the starting shooting guard. At the very least, it's nice to see him not fall completely off the map after a couple promising performances.
• Jose Calderon had 11 assists opposite two turnovers. He has 38 assists in his last three games. He's also very good.
• Will Bynum was missing.
• Pistons technically blew another double digit lead, as they led by 10 at one point in the first half.
• Next time Pistons play NOLA, we'll have to use Pelican puns for headlines!
|6||OK from J||12|