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Pistons vs. Rockets preview: The Smithing Part II

Josh Smith has us over for dinner and a friendly game of basketball.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

I'm not going to go all gospel mode on y'all like the last preview, but just keep it in mind.

Game Vitals

Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX

When: Friday, March 6, 2015, 8 p.m. EST

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Exceptionally Detailed Analysis

First off, let me just start by laying down some knowledge.  So I was in one of my philosophical moods the other day, and I realized that Wikipedia is essentially eHarmony for celebrities.  Just bear with me here.  Obviously you can't communicate with people over Wikipedia, but each page is generally a dating profile, with personal information, career achievements and career biographies.  It can even get a little naughty when there's a spouse listed and there is no end-date to the marriage, can someone say home wrecker?

Anyway, both teams are riding losing streaks into this one.  The Pistons are experiencing something similar to trying to hold water in cupped hands in regards to their playoff hopes.  After four straight losses, the team have slipped to 3.5 games out of the picture.  We as fans can take solace in the fact that there is still 22 games left, we are in the dreadful Eastern Conference and close to half our games are against immediate foes Charlotte, Miami, Boston and Indiana.  In fact, after the Houston game, we have a matchup with Charlotte on Sunday, then a five-game streak against Western opponents (Lakers, Golden State, Portland, Utah and Memphis) that ends March 17.  Then, our last 15 games are all against Eastern conference foes, a real chance to gain some serious ground in the standings.

The Rockets have dropped their last two, to Atlanta and Memphis.  The Rockets were without the services of James Harden for the Atlanta game, after he was suspended for nut-kicking LeBron James.  Josh Smith also tried to get more people to hate him after shushing his native crowd after he hit a couple of threes (which is quite an achievement, but make sure you win the game first).  He then rubbed his foot in the spit even more by labeling the Hawks fans as "fickle bandwagoners," which could be construed as semi-truthful, but probably isn't the best thing to say about your home city's fans.

The Pistons dropped their last game 88-85 to the New Orleans Unibrows.  Head Unibrow, Anthony Davis demolished all those foolish enough to stand in his way to the tune of 39 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks.  He did allow Jodie Meeks one moment of emasculation with a fierce dunk in the second quarter, but it was a game lost by the Pistons rather than won by the Pelicans.  After leading by double digits in the first quarter and looking rampant, the Pistons Scrub Killer of the Night, Alexis Ajinca, started to lead a comeback.  He was supplemented by the aforementioned Head Unibrow and Tyreke Evans, as the Pelicans built a halftime lead.  Poor decision making was the choice of attack down the stretch, and, as Tyreke Evans split a pair of free throws to give the Pistons a sniff, Reggie Jackson pulled up for a semi-contested 3 in transition with nine seconds on the clock, which looked short the moment he let it go.  The Pistons had no timeouts, but there was enough time to find a shooter like Meeks (who has experienced a resurgence of sorts) or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but that has been the epitome of the Jackson Five thus far, a good game (14 points, 11 assists), ruined by one or two moments of head-scratching buffoonery.

*HEY LOOK, IT'S TRIVIA TIME!!!!  Who on the Rockets' roster is third all-time in made 3-pointers in NBA history?  (Hint, his name does not start with Josh and end in Smith).

Last Time We Met

Jan. 31, 2015, Pistons won 114-101 (season series 1-0 DET)

Sadly, I missed this game due to a family birthday, but I got increasingly jealous and yet excited as I was following the boxscore on my phone at the restaurant.  My family accused me of being "antisocial" and a "social pariah" but they didn't understand, and I wasn't about to bother trying to explain the magnitude of the event.  The Pistons were led by a rampant backcourt of D.J. Augustin (28 points, 12 assists, remember him?) and Caldwell-Pope (28 points).  Drumroe added a handy 30 points and 28 rebounds, while Kyle Singler and Anthony Tolliver contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively.  James Harden led the Rockets with 26 points.

Players To Watch

Pistons: Andre Drummond

Drummond's games of true domination have occurred at a lesser rate this season as opposed to last season.  While he may have a tough matchup with Donatas "Donuts" Motiejunas on the defensive end, as the Lithuanian is a very crafty scorer with a semi-reliable 3-point shot, he will be able to get his own back on offense. Motiejunas is listed at 7-foot-0, but only weighs 222 pounds.  For reference, that's only seven  pounds heavier than noted stick Tayshaun Prince, and six pounds LIGHTER than Caron Butler.  Conclusion?  Donuts has the body of a 75-year-old small forward.  Don't even deny it, numbers (like buckets, according to Dion Waiters, and balls, according to Rasheed Wallace) don't lie.

Rockets: Donatas Motiejunas

See above.  Remember how fellow Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas lit up Drummond.  Motiejunas has the potential to do just the same.


-- Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy coached Dwight Howard in Orlando from 2007-12.

-- Howard also played with Pistons guard Jodie Meeks for the L.A. Lakers in 2012-13.

-- Rockets forward Josh Smith played for the Pistons from 2013-14.

-- Pistons guard John Lucas III played for the Rockets from 2005-07.

-- Pistons guard Reggie Jackson and Rockets guard James Harden played together for the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2011-12 season.

-- Pistons forward Anthony Tolliver and Rockets forward Corey Brewer played for the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2010-11 season.

-- Pistons forward Caron Butler and Rockets guard Jason Terry played for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2011-12 season.

-- Terry also played with Pistons forward Shawne Williams in Dallas from 2008-10.

Score Prediction

I've predicted wins the last few previews, and been disappointed, so I'm going to try some reverse-Quagology here.

Rockets 106, Pistons 94

Lineup Prediction

Pistons: Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Prince, Monroe, Drummond

Rockets: Beverley, Harden, Ariza, Jones, Motiejunas

Injured/In Doubt

Pistons: Jennings (Achilles), Miller (inactive)

Rockets: Beverley (foot - questionable), T. Jones (back - questionable), Papanikolaou (ankle), Howard (knee)

Community Question

Over-under on Josh Smith rocket launchers (threes) tonight?

Trivia answer: Jason Terry (2047) is third all-time behind only Ray Allen (2973) and Reggie Miller (2560).  Paul Pierce is the only other player in NBA history to hit over 2,000 treys, with 2025.  Pistons in the top 250 include Chauncey Billups (7th, 1830), Rasheed Wallace (62nd, 1086), Lindsey Hunter (66th, 1075), Joe Dumars (79th, 990), Brandon Jennings (126th, 775), D.J. Augustin :'( (184th, 613), Jodie Meeks (189th, 606), Tayshaun Prince (220th, 555) and Richard Hamilton (231st, 530).  There were others like Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva but I'm ignoring they ever even existed from 2009-2014.