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Pistons links: A much needed win, Stanley Johnson's hot hand and some scintillating James Harden defense

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NEWSFLASH -- Detroit beat a bad team. OK, great, now to some links.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

If Detroit lost that game last night it would have been catastrophic, especially since they were up by a million baskets at one point. I almost had to look away as the lead was chipped away to so little. It isn't that Houston doesn't have talent, it's that they are just a mess right now, no fun to watch, and don't have a lot of endearing characters, at least in my view they don't.  It's a win, and though it doesn't feel that great to probably anybody, hopefully it sets up Detroit for several strong efforts in the coming week. They need to grab these Ws at home against lesser opponents. I certainly don't want to revisit the throwing things at the TV business from several games ago.  Although it does make for decent poll possibilities.

Homestand Should Restore Hope -- Hoops Habit

Off to a positive start. And these next three better be victories too, with a 20-point shellacking of the Lakers as a finisher. Also, in case you missed it, check out last weekend's schedule analysis by Hypnowheel here.

The Pistons will host the Houston Rockets (7-10) on Monday night. Wednesday night will be a re-match against the Suns. Friday night will be the second game of four against the Milwaukee Bucks (6-11). The home stand will come to a close as the Lakers visit Detroit on Sunday evening. The four teams the Pistons will host combine for a 23-44 record entering Monday.

Rookies Who You Aren't Hearing Enough About -- Hoops Habit

Beyond those five big names is a cast of first-year players who are quietly excelling in the early stages of their development. Some are further along than others, but the common theme is that the general population is failing to recognize their strides.

It's time to recognize.

Surprise surprise...Stanley Johnson made the list.

Stanley Johnson notches first career double-double (Highlights) -- Detroit Sports Nation

SVG with some real talk.

"He played well offensively tonight," Van Gundy said. "Defensively, he wasn't very good, but offensively and on the boards, he was very good. It seemed like they scored every point on him in the fourth quarter. No matter who he switched on to, they scored. But offensively and on the boards, he was very, very good."

The optimist in us calls this a win-win. Johnson showed out on the offensive end, battled on the boards, and received a free lesson from James Harden and company down the stretch. You better believe this is only going to make him stronger.

Pistons push off Rockets' late comeback bid -- Houston Chronicle

Throughout the month, the Rockets were a hot mess. They were turnover prone. They shot badly. They defended worse. They did not get back defensively.

Even when they do get back defensively, sometimes it still doesn't work out.

Case in point:

James Harden's disinterest in defense is reaching legendary levels -- Washington Post (Early Lead)

Check out the link for other impressive examples of James Harden playing some very rugged get after it style defense.

Remember when James Harden had supposedly vastly improved his defense last season? Which is to say, the Houston Rockets guard went from terrible to not-quite-as-terrible?

Yeah, those days appear to be over. Except that now, Harden seems to have gone from "terrible" to "thoroughly apathetic."

Again, enjoy the win Pistons fans -- back to .500 does feel quite alright.