If the Pistons are looking to add another notch to the win column, tonight will be a nice opportunity to do so. The New Orleans Hornets are roughly as bad (and hobbled) as Detroit, but the Pistons have home court advantage and the taste of blood in their mouths from last night's win. The game certainly could go either way, but this one is the Pistons' to lose.
Game Tips at 7:30 P.M. EST
New Orleans Hornets: 4 - 19 (2 - 8 road)
Detroit Pistons: 5 - 20 (4 - 8 home)
The Hornets have been without Eric Gordon, the centerpiece of the Chris Paul trade, for sixteen games and counting. On Thursday night, they started without the other half of their backcourt, Jarrett Jack (who is having a career-best season). With those two out, the Hornets will have to rely on Marco Belinelli and the equally fun-to-say General Greivis Vasquez. In their last two games, however, the Hornets have decided to bench Belinelli to start another shooting guard...
That's how bad things are in New Orleans.
Don't feel bad for the Hornets, though-- they're in a better position to rebuild than the Pistons are. They've got two lottery picks this season, one likely a top three pick, and they've got a clean salary profile with a lot of trade assets. The lone brain fart NOLA is still dealing with is Trevor Ariza, who is about as overpriced and untradeable as Ben Gordon. That aside, they're actually poised for plenty of growth in terms of talent.
I'm not sure what it is about New Orleans, but damn they have a way with finding stud point guards. In the last two seasons, they've traded away Darren Collison and Chris Paul, only to wind up starting one of the more underrated point guards in the league in Jarrett Jack. [read BRGulker's write-up on Jarrett Jack as part of DBB's exploration of the point guard market two years back] Now that Jack is out with a sore knee, General Greivis Vasquez has started in his place. In the last two games, Vasquez is averaging 18 points, 9 assists and 5 rebounds on 58% shooting. Since New Orleans has a bad habit of trading away good point guards, the Pistons should have their number on speed dial.
Then there's the logjam at centre. Seriously, how the hell does a team have a logjam at center? The Hornets start the league's most ho-hum-but-effective center in Emeka Okafor, they've got a good-for-fantasy/bad-for-reality Chris Kaman behind him and the center steal of free agency, Gustavo Ayon. I've mentioned this before, but you know what New Orleans calls Ayon? Goose. Goose, meet Moose. Moose, Goose. Awesome.
Keys of the Game:
Get Everyone Involved in Rebounding - It worked last night. In fact, it's been a common element for most of Detroit's five wins this season. The other 20 games are proof that being the league's worst rebounding team is bad for basketball.
Clog the Paint, Defend Driving Lanes - As if they heard us asking, the Pistons stood up and defended the perimeter last night, holding a team that shot 58% against them from three to only 18%. By contrast, the Hornets attempt and make the second fewest 3-pointers in the game. It might be safe to sag off the perimeter a bit tonight, because NOLA does most of its work in the mid-range and the painted area.
Feed the Moose - 14 attempts last night, that's a step in the right direction. The Pistons can do better, as Tayshaun Prince is still ahead of Monroe in shot attempts (15 last night, only 6 connected). Tayshaun needs to be a fourth option again, and Monroe should be second or better.
Question of the Game:
Like last night's game, this one is winnable. Would you rather see back-to-back wins or a better shot at the second pick in the draft? It's a tough call, but if it means Brandon Knight showing that he can run the point once again, it's hard to want to lose.