Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum were stealing the show and the Pistons were flirting with victory against the Dallas Mavericks. Meanwhile, Ben Gordon was in the midst of having the worst game in his career. If it weren't for his abysmal night, the Pistons probably would have pulled this one out.
Gordon shot 1-16 (6%!) from the field, 0-6 from downtown, and went just 3-6 from the charity stripe despite being an 86% career free throw shooter. This performance most likely trumps the poor game he had his rookie season when he went 0-10, but hit all six free throw attempts.
If Gordon makes even just 13% of his shots and all his free throws today, the Pistons probably would have been on their way to the West Coast with their fourth win in a row.
Ben Gordon was paid the big bucks this off-season to come in and be the clutch, sharpshooter that he proved to be while he was in Chicago (see 2009 playoffs for exhibit A). And perhaps that's why the Pistons appeared to draw up a play for Gordon with five seconds remaining, down three, despite his awful night. Unfortunately, Gordon's night got worse, as his off-balance three clanked the front of the rim and rolled off the back and kicked left, out of the reach of any Piston rebounders.
With the type of night Gordon was having compared to Bynum and Stuckey, it may have many fans wondering why a play was not drawn up for one of the other two. After all, Bynum scored 17 of his 27 points in the 4th quarter and Stuckey had 28 points. Both were a combined 23-36 shooting and 2-4 from downtown.
Stuckey injured his left calf* midway through the fourth and did not return. As for Bynum, I'm not sure why he wasn't the go-to guy in that situation. He single handedly brought the Pistons back into the game when they trailed by eight in the fourth quarter, slicing through Dallas' defense consistently. Instead, Detroit had him inbounds the ball on the final play. Maybe Gordon was meant to pass it back to Bynum if he wasn't open, but Gordon looked like he was going to have a clear look. He just jumped awkwardly to his right and made it a much tougher shot than it could have been.
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 25 points on 11-27 shooting.
More thoughts/notes after the jump:
- Dirk was ridiculously good tonight (and when is he not?). I give a lot of credit to Charlie Villanueva for the defense he played on him most of the night. I know Wallace D'ed him up quite a bit too, but every time I saw CV on Dirk, he had a hand in his face. Dirk is just a freak. And did anyone else notice that when Dirk makes, it's a clean swish every time?
- Kwame Brown and Austin Daye were noticeably impressive on the glass tonight, each grabbing five rebounds.
- Personally, I love that the Pistons went to Gordon on that last shot. It shows that they have the "utmost confidence" in him no matter what and are implicitly reiterating to him, still a young guy, that great shooters should have short term memories. Kuester said in his post-game interview, "I’ll call it for him again when I get the chance."
- The highlights:
- Pistons hit the West Coast now, starting with a 10 PM EST game on Tuesday night against the defending champs, Lakers. They'll play another back-to-back game on Wednesday in Portland. It's going to be a difficult road trip, but if we've learned anything from the Pistons first ten games it's that they don't go down easy. Let's hope that continues out west.
- UPDATE: *There were questions as to what exactly happened to Stuckey when he was injured. Some thought it was his ankle and others thought it was his calf. During the game, it was reported as a calf injury --- most likely cramps -- and I've linked to the Detroit News, who say it's a calf injury . However, as a reader pointed out to me, Yahoo is saying it was an ankle injury and that Stuckey wanted to come back in. I'm sure we'll hear the accurate report tomorrow.