Like most of you, I wasn't able to watch Friday's 73-62 win over the Wizards (on account of it, you know, not being televised and all), but DBB reader Other Matt was actually at the Verizon Center. He offered up his observations in the comments to last night's game thread, and since he had a chance to see something that 99.99% of the rest of us Pistons fans could not (for better or worse -- it doesn't sound like it was much fun), I republished his thoughts here:
I just got back. DC is freaking awesome. I’ve been living in downtown for the last 5 months and I will be really sad to move home. I love that I can go to basketball game, eat at a 5 star restaurant, and walk home within 5-10 minutes. I’ll plug Rosa Mexicana, which is right across the street from the Verizon Center, tremendous food and good tequila.
All that said, this game was awful. It was like watching paint dry –or worse– a Presidential debate. The first half was a return to Carlisle style offense. It was not pretty. I think we’ll miss Flip a little bit offensively. I think we were 13/38 at the half. We went about 6 minutes without a bucket after the Kwame buzzer-beater to end the 1st quarter.
I thought our defense was terrific. We were active, we were in passing lanes, we did a terrific job at forcing turnovers. We did a poor job exploiting a +10 turnover margin in the first half.
Kwame Brown was excellent. Many of you will note that I was, and have continued to be, dead set against him. He was our best defender and really played well offensively. I really felt for the guy, the crowd was KILLING him. It got to the point where I felt the need to stand and cheer every time he did something marginally good. Color me cautiously optimistic and impressed.
Dee Brown’s defense gave us, Stuckey especially, fits all night long. Will Bynum is at least 2 inches shorter than Brown, which is to say he’s like 5′10 at best. Bynum was a pest, but clearly came out on the short end of his matchup with Dee Brown. I think he gives up too much size to contribute anything meaningful to us this season.
Stuckey was pretty bad all night. He struggled offensively, the Wizards did a nice job trapping him and trying to force the ball out of his hands. I was disappointed in his performance (not that anybody other than Kwame or Rasheed was "good").
I didn’t see nearly enough Maxiell or Walter Sharpe. I thought Sharpe made a couple of nice plays defensively, but didn’t get enough burn to try to build any positive momentum.
Rasheed was pretty good all night. I think he only took 1 three, which he nailed. He was active in the paint and rebounded the ball well. Even if he wasn’t credited with a rebound in the stat sheet, he kept several balls alive for us. Amir did the same thing.
Speaking of Amir, he’s got to get thicker. He was pushed around by the much stronger Etan Thomas all night. It was not a good matchup for him. He was active defensively. I thought he did a good job despite giving up a very obvious strength advantage. I wish he’d have played more, but the Kwame-Rasheed matchup was working so well in our favor it’s hard to argue with the results.
That’s about all I got for now, I’ll expand more in the morning.
I don't have much to add, except for reminding everyone not to get too upset about the offense. Michael Curry is trying to add a few new wrinkles to the mix, and he's using the preseason to take his team out of their comfort zone so that they'll be ready once the games actually start to matter. From Chris McCosky in Friday's Detroit News:
Here's the deal: All those familiar offensive sets that involve Billups and Wallace -- the high pick-and-roll, pick-and-pop plays, the cross-screening plays -- they are still part of the system.
Curry would rather use the early part of training camp to develop other facets of the offense.
"I know we can do those other things," Curry said. "But can they do other things? When we are sitting in a (playoff) series and a team has locked in to you and taken away some of those things, can you go to something else?
"Plus, we have to be able to run some things when we don't have all our talent on the court."
Billups and Wallace -- though admittedly struggling to adjust -- are on board with Curry's plan.
"Once we pick (the offensive sets) up and can run them consistently without thinking, just reacting, we'll be fine," Wallace said.
I actually meant to post that quote on Friday morning but never had a chance. Ironically enough, it's that much more relevant today. The silver lining to last night's game? Well, we won, just in case that preseason record ever starts to count for anything. Plus, Amir Johnson played 17 minutes without a single foul. He also went 1-5 from the field and had just two boards, but it's not like anyone else did much better -- the Pistons shot 40% from the field; the Wizards, 32.4%.