Thursday, December 6, 2012

Halfway Home

We sit at 18-19 with four games to go until the halfway point in the season. OKC, New Orleans, Memphis and Toronto comprise those games and to be honest I would be shocked if we took 3 of them to finish above .500 in the first 41 games but we have to play the games to find out.

Game #38 Detroit 93, OKLAHOMA CITY 111

The first matchup of our teams since our recent trade but the end result was no different than the first time we played. Durant again scored 40+ on us but at least Tayshaun Prince only scored 8. It all came down to shooting again as we shot 45% on the night with 31% from deep and 57% from the line. We are currently 23rd in the league in free throw shooting at 72% as a team and that's not good enough

Monroe led the way with 18 and 6 while we got another strong performance from Drummond off the bench with 12 points and 3 blocks. He looks so much better in that role than his past ten or so starts. Sefolosha scored 13 for us in his return to OKC but wasn't up to the task defensively against the game's best scorer. Jerebko left the game with an injury but its just a minor one and he should be good to go tomorrow night against New Orleans.

Game #39 DETROIT 115, New Orleans 92

The Hornets came to town and I was eager to get a look at Anthony Davis. Davis played well with a double double but only one block in the game. However we opened up a 16 point lead after one so the focus for the Hornets became quick jumpers mostly to get back into the game.

It is a good thing we didn't need to rely on jumpers though because we shot a putrid 1 of 11 (yes 9%) for three on the night and our free throw woes continued as we made 18 of 27 only on the night thanks largely to Greg Monroe who missed 6 of 16. However Monroe did score 36 in total so we'll take it. The formula has been the same all year - Monroe beasts and we win. Monroe gets held in check and we lose. Stuckey with 23 off the bench and Drummond with 10 and 9. I mentioned moving Lamar Odom into the starting lineup to see if giving him more minutes would help but he's been invisible in these past two games and all we're doing is splitting up minutes between him, Collison and Jerebko and nobody is playing well. Something probably has to give soon there.

Game #40 Detroit 95, MEMPHIS 76

Finally a road win after losing 8 of our last 9 on the road. Really though we played one good quarter winning the third 33-17 and the rest of the game was just flat out ugly by both sides. The two teams combined shot 58% from the free throw line and it was just a slow, ugly game. Monroe led the way with 22 and 10 and 3 blocks while Stuckey and Knight posted passable lines. Everyone else seemed to chip in 6 or 8 points and it was a nice team effort.

Defensively Sefolosha did a nice job on Rudy Gay holding him to 6 of 21 from the floor and Odom did a good job keeping Randolph out of the game. In very unlike Z-Bo fashion he only hoisted 8 shots on the night. Conley, Allen and Gasol scored theirs but the Grizzlies bench was a total non factor which speaks both to their lack of depth and the nice job our bench can do.

Game #41 DETROIT 105, Toronto 86

20-20 coming into this one against a team who is not very good at 12-31. The Raps scored the opening bucket of the game and never led again. As usual Greg Monroe was the player of the game dropping 22 and 8 while our guards really stepped up. Stuckey had 21 off the bench and starters Knight and English combined for 29.

The defense was the real key though as we held Toronto to 1 of 20 from three point land (and I thought it was bad when we put up 1 of 11). Lowry and Kleiza were to blame for 13 of the misses. The increase in defense is thanks largely in part to Sefolosha. He may not have been able to slow down Durant but he's given a lot of other guys fits and is contributing in the box score too. Thabo had 9 points and 9 boards to go with 2 steals in this one and Odom rounded out the starters with only 4 points and 6 rebounds.

The Halfway Point

41 games in and we're 21-20 which is good enough to be tied atop the Central with Milwaukee and 6th in the conference overall. 6th I can handle because it means steering clear of Miami until the ECF and we're 6.5 back of 5th in the conference (Boston at 28-16) so I don't think we're in danger of moving up - its just moving down we have to worry about.

Coming in the next post we'll do some midseason grades and get ready for the second half of the year and hopefully a playoff berth!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Go West Young Men

With a tough west coast road trip underway what better time to shake up the roster? I don't expect much out of these next three games since we've got new pieces in place but here's hoping for the best.

Game #33 Detroit 90, PORTLAND 105

As expected it was a rough first outing with this new group. LaMarcus Aldridge and some home cooking landed Greg Monroe on the bench for all but 18 minutes with foul trouble and getting Monroe out of the game is the most effective way of slowing us offensively. Aldridge finished with 27, 10 boards and 3 blocks. Jerebko and Stuckey combined for 32 off the bench for us.

So how about our new players? Sefolosha did an admirable job in the start at small forward. Nic Batum is not an easy matchup given his length and offensive ability and Thabo held him to 6 points on 1 of 7 shooting. That is very encouraging and hopefully this will signal the end of opposing small forwards abusing us on a nightly basis like they would do to Tayshaun. Collison had 7 rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench and Maynor was quiet with 4 points in 11 minutes. Drummond was a major disappointment - 5 points, 5 rebounds in 28 minutes and allowing JJ Hickson to score a good chunk of his 20 points on him. I'm a big proponent of playing the rookies to allow them to develop but maybe Andre just needs to come off the bench for a bit. We won't make any changes on this trip but it's time to start thinking about that.

In non game related news Corey Maggette got off a rant after the game about not playing. He's being paid nearly 11 million dollars to sit in warm ups. Then again if he was of any use to us he would be playing. He's simply an expiring contract to me. I had the opportunity to respond in the media but I chose to no comment it. One its not worth potentially causing the 12th man to engage in further morale lowering tirades but more importantly I want to keep him at least in a decent mood in case we can and want to trade him. Maybe he can help a contender or better yet maybe some rebuilder would like to clear some space and would take him. I've worked hard to clear our books for next year but that's only half the battle -we still have to convince players to take the money and sometimes in a place like this its easier to just trade for guys already signed.

Game #34 Detroit 84, DENVER 111

Denver and us are inextricably linked through recent history. It was the prior regime that drafted one Darko Milicic allowing Denver to draft Carmelo Anthony with the following pick and that same regime then later gave them Chauncey Billups and Aaron Afflalo while taking Allen Iverson, who by that point was no longer the answer to anything, off their hands. Needless to say I think they owe us a few.

Unfortunately the Nuggets didn't share the same sentiment. The Nuggets dominated us on the boards with a 51-38 advantage leading to a 25-5 edge in second chance points and a 56-26 drumming in points in the paint. Stuckey was great again off the bench for 21 and that role has really suited him well. The worst news was that Ty Lawson didn't even play as he's still recovering from a broken foot. Andre Drummond got abused by Javale McGee 22 points and 12 boards, Gallinari torched Sefolosha and Jerebko for 22 and Faried held Monroe to 11 points on 3 of 12 shooting. I really like this Denver team. Any time you can 58% from the free throw line and have more turnovers than your opponent and still win by 27 points you must be a pretty decent squad.

Game #35 Detroit 110, UTAH 95

Given our recent rebounding struggles I came into this game expecting a massacre on the boards. But with Favors still recovering from his broken toe and the chance Millsap would not pass his concussion tests in time to play maybe we would have a chance to steal one game on this west coast swing. We're now 16-18 and falling out of playoff contention in the East. Then again it's the East - everyone's in playoff contention most of the year.

Well it turns out Millsap did play but only played about 24 minutes with a very quiet 5 points. Monroe finally got back on track with a huge night of 27 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Knight, English and Stuckey combined for 45 points and Nick Collison gave us 10 off the bench. One guy I haven't mentioned is Lamar Odom. He shot a combined 6 for 20 on this four game roadie with only 14 rebounds in four games. The game he has been able to log 30-35 minutes he has been very productive but apparently 20 minutes or so isn't enough to get him moving. And Andre Drummond just continues to be lousy. He blocked one shot on this trip - he's got potential through the roof but maybe its time to cut back the minutes a little for now and see what he can do coming off the bench. As tough as it is to believe at 17-18 we hold the final spot in the East so we might as well see if making a lineup move helps get a few extra wins. I'm sure the fans would like to see some playoff basketball here again.

Game #36 DETROIT 108, Charlotte 94

Charlotte comes in to The Palace with seven wins on the year - two of them courtesy of us but we've got a new lineup once again and are ready to kick some Bobcat tail. We decided the best course of action was try to get Lamar engaged again and move him into the starting lineup sliding Moose over to the 5 and Drummond to our first big off the bench.

Now I'm not going to declare the new lineup a success simply because we beat the lowly Bobcats but there were some positive initial impressions. Odom played through a sore wrist and scored 12 points to go with 4 rebounds in 29 minutes while Drummond had 10 points and blocked 2 shots off the bench in 21 minutes. Monroe had a feast on the Bobcats interior D scoring 34 points to go with 10 boards, 2 blocks and 4 steals. That's player of the week material there. The most impressive stat though was the 21 point lead we let Charlotte accumulate before wiping out that deficit and then some with a 70-43 second half. No time to celebrate though - time to hop a plane to Indy for another game tomorrow.

Game #37 Detroit 88, INDIANA 113

Last time we met we dropped a close one to the Pacers because Danny Granger dropped 37 on us - hopefully with Thabo Sefolosha in tow that would not be the case on this trip to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Well this time was completely different - we decided to lose by 25 instead of 5. On the bright side Danny Granger only scored 29 this time so that was an improvement I suppose but watching David West put up 24 on Lamar Odom all night wasn't fun.

Greg Monroe had 30 for us and Jerebko got 19 off the bench but that was it scoring wise. Not another player hit double figures for us. We shot an abysmal 4 of 22 for three and an equally horrid 12 of 22 from the line. We're just not good enough to shoot that poorly and win games. Drummond was solid with 7 points and 9 rebounds off the bench. Being there has let him come in when everyone's a little winded and be able to play against some reserves instead of always just opposing starters. He did take a nasty shot to the head late in the game and had to leave. Turns out he has a mild concussion and might miss our next game at OKC which undoubtedly is setting up to be another point barrage by some of the league's elite players.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fifty To Go and The Big Deal

Time to do some catching up here in the blog - here's the highlights from the last ten games.

Game #23 DETROIT 108, Washington 87

A couple games back we squeaked one out in DC against the Wiz - we put on a better show for the home fans. Jerebko continues to be bad with 5 fouls in 12 minutes but BK and Monroe showed up to combine for 47 and the rookie starters Drummond and English combined for 24. Odom gave us 36 minutes off the bench and went for 9 and 7.

Game #24 DETROIT 102, Utah 82

Back to back wins in the D as we get 27 with 6 boards and 5 dimes from Stuckey off the bench and 22 from Monroe. Jerebko just plain awful with 3 points and I think he needs to go back to the bench but we've won two straight. Is now a good time to tinker with that? It helped that Favors is still out with a broken toe but he wasn't playing much before - now there's a guy I would love to have here. I decided what the hell and called up the Jazz - they want Monroe at least for Favors so scratch that.

Game #25 Detroit 77, ATLANTA 105

What did Santa bring us on Christmas Eve? A beat down! Surprisingly enough we held Smith and Horford to a combined 19 points but got lit up Teague, Harris and Lou Williams. Well that and shooting 38% from the floor. Odom and Maxiell both came out injured. Max not so bad but Odom is going to miss time with a sprained toe which means I guess we give Tayshaun another chance.

Game #26 DETROIT 97, Chicago 115

A huge divisional game for us at home and we get out scored by 15 in the final quarter while watching Taj Gibson go for 26 and 9 off the bench. Monroe was unreal with 26 and 14, 5 steals and 3 blocks but we gave up 66 points in the paint on the way to a 56% shooting night for the Bulls. Odom would have made a difference in this one.

Game #27 DETROIT 108, Oklahoma City 120

Our track record against the stars of the league has not been good and this one was no different. Durant torched us for 47 while Westbrook put in a mere 28 with 17 assists. Same story for us. Monroe beasts with 37 and 16 and we get one good contribution from someone else and that's it. This time its Stuckey with 23 off the bench. Andre Drummond is now on the side of a milk carton with 10 points and 6 his last three games combined and now a strained ab to boot.

Game #28 Detroit 101, MILWAUKEE 108

This loss takes us to 13-15. Ellis, Jennings and Ilyasova combine for 77 points and we shoot 43% again from the floor. Jerebko finally came alive off the bench for 14 points and in the most unsurprising league news ever Kevin Durant is both player of the week and player of the month. At least we contributed to a win of sorts and the Magic are coming to town so all hope is not lost.

Game #29 DETROIT 113, Orlando 91

We kick off 2013 with a new year's day home win over one of the worst teams in the league but at this point I'll take anything. Afflalo scores 23 for Orlando which I curse my predecessor for but SuperGreg goes for 38 and 15 with nominal contributions from Knight, Stuckey and Jerebko. Prince put in 9 and has at least been passable as a starter the last four.

Game #30 DETROIT 109, Brooklyn 86

Finally a game where we led start to finish and had a balanced attack. Monroe had 19 but Stuckey, Knight, Maggette, English and Jerebko all hit double figures and played great defense holding the Nets to 33% shooting inlcuding 16/44 from Deron, Brook and Crash. OKC has been ringing the phone off the hook trying to get Tayshaun. Might look into that.

Game #31 DETROIT 101, Sacramento 94

Lamar Odom returned to the lineup tonight and played very well with 14 and 8 and 3 blocks off the bench along with Jonas' 14 points and 9 boards off the bench. Monroe and BK played  a good game while Tayshaun just can't get anything going. Cousins went off for 31 and both teams built double digit leads at one point so I feel pretty lucky to come out of that one with a W.

Game #32 Detroit 66, LOS ANGELES (C) 95

You would think if you hold your opponent to 3 of 20 from 3 point range you might be doing a pretty good job but if you match that with 3 of 18 and give them 18 extra free throws you lose by 30. I thought maybe Lamar would step up in a return to LA but he was nowhere to be found. Caron Butler was traded to the Spurs after the game for Stephen Jackson.

Around the league...

As noted the Spurs and Clips pulled off a little swap there while Doug Collins is the only coach in the league who could run a 24-10 team and still have players hate him. Nick Young, Thad Young and Kwame Brown all have complained in the media about playing time recently. I don't want Nick or Kwame but I'd take Thad Young in a heartbeat.

32 games in we hold the final playoff spot in the East by a couple games over Brooklyn. Things started off so promising but at this point I'd rather be in the lottery than get spanked by Miami but don't worry commissioner - you will not have to impose any sanctions on us. We're playing our best guys - they're just not very good.

We Pull The Trigger

I mentioned that OKC had been blowing up our phones trying to send Thabo Sefolosha our way for Tayshaun Prince. I decided to give them a call and see what we could do building around that idea. Obviously I knew I wasn't going to get anything substantial from them - Prince isn't that good and he's got two more years left at 7 million plus. There were two guys however that were not being used much that both had short contracts and potential use for our team : Eric Maynor and Nick Collison. Now those names aren't going to sell any tickets but for us Maynor would give us a competent backup PG to Knight unlike Will Bynum and Collison is a terrific team defender as is Sefolosha - something we desperately need. OKC wasn't going to give up all that for Tayshaun so I threw in Will Bynum to replace Maynor and a 2nd rounder we picked up from Houston in a draft day deal and boom - so long Tayshaun.

The trade put us at 16 guys so my mission was simple - find anyone who we could convince to take Austin Daye. Who would do that? Cleveland will! I convinced the Cavs they could not pass up on a young guy so full of potential and they were willing to hand over a 2nd rounder for the former 1st round pick and just like that the four guys I wanted most to get rid of : Villanueva, Prince, Daye and Bynum were gone and had netted us Lamar Odom, Sefolosha, Maynor and Nick Collison.

I actually like this team now - for now we're going to start Knight/English/Sefolosha/Monroe/Drummond. Drummond has not played well at all recently but he needs the PT to develop and we've got a solid second team of Maynor/Stuckey/Jerebko/Odom/Collison while Maxiell and Maggette are out of the rotation. It does leave Kyle Singler out of the rotation for now too but his time will come and best of all our contract situation looks great. Heading into next year we've only got about 33 million on the books for 11 players which can allow us to spend some money in free agency or use Corey Maggette and Jason Maxiell as 16 million in expiring money for someone signed to a long term contract on a team who wants to rebuild.

Up next we head West to take on Portland, Denver and Utah then home against the Bobcats - maybe we'll finally beat them.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Odom Era Begins

With our first trade under my belt I was feeling better about the future of the team and excited to see if Lamar could jump start his career here because we're going to give him the minutes and if he can't do it then its likely the end of the road for him unless he wants to be a minimum contract bench warmer - kind of like his role on TV. That alone should be motivation enough to do some work here.

Trying to avoid another
NYC beatdown
Game #19 Detroit 83, NEW YORK 102

We decided the best strategy would be to try and not let Melo score 40 on us so we vowed to double team him all game long in addition to throwing a bunch of zone defense out there. Odom will come off the bench although I expect a lot of minutes for him because Drummond is playing with a bruised sternum so I don't know how much he will play.

We got off to a good start. Kim English threw down two big dunks on offense and defensively Jerebko was keeping Melo in check with some help from the double team. Drummond didn't last long before tiring quickly so with about 7 minutes left in the 1st Lamar Odom made his Pistons debut. Odom played a strong quarter finishing with 4 points and 3 rebounds and Melo got 9, but a quiet 9, and we trailed 29-24.

The second wasn't going much better and we quickly fell behind by 10 on a Kidd triple and two Melo free throws. Jonas was expending so much energy on defense that he had nothing going on offense and Drummond was still hurting on the bench. Even worse Lamar suddenly looked lethargic out there - not scoring, not rebounding, not playing good D and I figured this one had the ability to run off the rails right there. With about 6 minutes to go Lawrence Frank made a bold decision. Drummond agreed to suck it up and go back in but he would sub in for Jonas leaving Odom on the floor to play the 3 and guard Melo. Something clicked right there for Lamar - maybe the fact that he was on the floor already more in this game than in any game for LA this year, maybe the fact that we traded for him and wanted him to succeed or maybe the fact that suddenly he was being trusted with a big challenge - suddenly he was useful to someone. Lamar came alive - he grabbed a couple boards, buried two threes and most importantly held Melo totally scoreless (including a block on him) for the quarter. We reached the half down only one 51-50.

Fired up by the second quarter we came out... and proceeded to give up back to back Raymond Felton triples and then a slew of buckets to Melo and before you knew it this thing was over. Down 15 Frank decided to try anything he could to shake things up and inserted Prince into the game for the first time. On the first trip down Tayshaun launched an awful three - nothing like sitting for 30 minutes of game time and then just launching one up. He was immediately replaced by Maxiell who managed to enter the game and get T'd up for saying something to the ref before we even brought the ball up the floor! You can imagine how things went from there. NY won the quarter 32-16.

The final quarter fared no better - it was a slop fest as both teams sort of just slugged their way to the end. We shot 43% from the field, 53% from the line, had 8 shots blocked and had the ball stolen 11 times on our way to 18 turnovers (14 of which came from Knight, Stuckey, English and Jerebko). You can't be -8 in turnovers and shoot like that on the road to a good team.

On the bright side Odom had a fine debut - 13 and 10 in 35 minutes and Monroe played ok with 17 and 6 to go with 3 steals and 2 blocks but the bottom line is unless we stop these second half swoons where the games just go to hell we're going to be in a very bad spot of being competitive for the final playoff spot and then getting waxed in round one instead of just going to the lottery.

Player of the Game
Carmelo Anthony
27 points
9 rebounds
6 assists
1 steal

Down Goes Kobe
Bad news for Lakers fans as two minutes into their matchup against the Bucks, Kobe drove and got upended landing awkwardly on his hand. Diagnosis...broken hand. Have we finally met an injury that will keep Kobe sidelined? The Lakers were the best team in the West as of the injury so its unlikely losing Bryant for a couple of months will cause them to drop out of the playoff picture.

On the ten year
rebuilding plan
Game #20 Detroit 89, WASHINGTON 85

The Greg Monroe show pulled into the nation's capital as Monroe went off for 33 points in a tight win. In fact Monroe was the only Pistons player to record double digits on the night. I guess you could spin the other 56 points scored as a balanced attack - I prefer to call it a garbage performance by the rest of the squad though. English with 9, BK, Jonas and Stuck with 8 and Lamar with 7 and 6 boards in 25 minutes off the bench.

Wall led the Wiz with 19, Ariza 16 and rookie Beal added 13.
                                      Player of the Game : Greg Monroe

Remeber the opener?
Game #21 DETROIT 114, Indiana 119

A -11 differential in rebounding and 21-9 Indy advantage in second chance points did us in. Well that and Danny Granger 37 points. Yeah that hurt too.

Monroe continues to beast with 26 and 12, Stuckey had 18 off the bench, English with 17. Drummond blocked four shots but watched Roy Hibbert rack up 15 boards and Brandon Knight shoots 2/18. 2 FOR 18! You would think after the first 1 for 9 or so you might hang it up for the night but not good old BK.
Player of the Game : Danny Granger

We can't lose to these
guys again, can we?
Game #22 Detroit 97, CHARLOTTE 106

The Bobcats were on an 11 game losing streak coming into this one so why not be the team that breaks the streak? The Bobcats have 5 wins now on the season - 2 of them against us.

The fact that we never led? That we were down 22 at one point? That Ramon Sessions and Gerald Henderson scored over 50 points combined? Monroe had 22 and 7, Stuckey 20 off the bench and Drummond chipped in a dozen
Player of the Game : Ramon Sessions

Some thoughts...
After the debacle in Charlotte a reporter emails me and wants to know what I think about Tayshaun Prince. Probably not the best time to ask me that question especially since Jonas Jerebko has fallen off the face of the earth. I probably made a poor decision to be critical of Prince and word has it that I basically hurt his feelings and he's lost all confidence now which I guess to me doesn't matter - how much confidence do you need to go through a layup line and sit in a chair for 48 minutes now? Apparently I opened Pandora's Box though because the next day I got a follow up email in my box asking if Prince is on the trade block. You would think these media guys have something better to do like dissect why we can't beat freaking Charlotte but I guess not. I admit he is and I'm sure exactly zero people are shocked by that.

In other news in a battle of Western Conference powers Kevin Durant drops 55 on the Clippers in a 108-100 OKC win. Durant is 3rd in the league in scoring trailing LeBron and Melo by about 1 PPG. Let's take a look at the conference standings.

EASTERN CONFERENCE                                   
1. Miami 20-4                                                          
2. Philly 19-5                                                            
3. New York 19-6
4. Atlanta 16-8
5. Boston 15-10
6. DETROIT 11-11
7. Milwaukee 13-13
8. Chicago 11-13

9. Washington 10-12
10. Brooklyn 9-14
11. Cleveland 9-15
12. Indiana 8-16
13. Toronto 6-18
14. Orlando 5-20
15. Charlotte 5-21

1. LA Clippers 16-8
2. LA Lakers 16-8
3. San Antonio 15-8
4. Minnesota 15-9
5. Oklahoma City 16-10
6. Memphis 14-11
7. Houston 13-12
8. Golden State 13-12

9. Denver 12-13
10. Dallas 11-12
11. Portland 12-14
12. Utah 12-14
13. Sacramento 10-16
14. New Orleans 7-14
15. Phoenix 7-18

No surprise that the bottom of the East blows while most of the West is decent. Denver has had Lawson and Faried out with injuries and Dallas lost Kaman for the year with a torn ACL. The Jazz have been without Favors for a couple weeks and the Nets have had Humphries on the shelf for about two weeks with a broken finger and his 17 and 12 are greatly missed obviously.

As for us I think we need some more lineup shakeups. Jerebko scored 18 or more off the bench 5 times in the first 16 games this season. He hasn't done it once while being a starter. He's posted efforts of 16, 12, 4, 8, 11 and 5. He definitely seemed more comfortable in a bench role. English has done well with the starters and Stuckey has scored well off the bench so I think that switch can stay. Maybe with Odom here we move him into the starting five now and let Jonas go back to being a super sub. Whatever the case we need to find our way and fast - either that or we need to play for the lottery. Got to be one of the two.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Roles Reversed and Players Move

Coming off a 15 point win where we didn't play Tayshaun as an experiment (one he was none too fond of) I decided to make the changes official and see where we were. That means Kim English and Jonas Jerebko would move into the starting lineup, Stuckey would become the main backup guard with some help from Maggette who is healthy again (for now) and Prince would get some minutes here and there but pretty much in a timeshare backup role with Kyle Singler getting priority. Neither guy will be happy with the move but to me its a step closer to pulling the trigger on getting them out of town - if we can ever find a buyer that is.

With Maggette on the mend and wanting Singler to stay in the lineup I decided to send fan favorite Slava Kravtsov to the d-league. The NBDL season is underway and Khris Middleton is averaging about 11 a night there. Would be nice for Slava to get some consistent minutes somewhere.

Game #16 DETROIT 110, Portland 97
Nobody can ruin a career
like the Trailblazers can

Score one for the new lineup as we snare a 13 point win at home. Our 17-2 advantage in second chance points this game may have had something to do with it. For once we had a very balanced attack. Monroe was solid with 21 and 12 plus some great D, BK stepped up against a talented rookie in Lillard and scored 22 while handing out 7 dimes. Drummond did his thing for 13 and 11 and the two new starters combined for 22 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 concussion that forced Jonas from the game. He'll be out a few days.

Portland was very balanced as well. All five starters scored in double figures and the bench didn't do much of anything. We shot much worse percentage wise than the Blazers but we had twice as many free throws and the extra points off putbacks which more than made up the difference.

Player of the Game
Greg Monroe
21 points
12 rebounds
1 block
3 steals

Monroe v Duncan old school
Game #17 Detroit 98, SAN ANTONIO 127

We hopped a flight for a one game roadie to take on the Spurs. Both teams sat 10-6 headed into the game and both teams with an injury. Jerebko's concussion meant he didn't make the trip with us and Tim Duncan was nursing a bruised triceps but was playing through it.

With Jonas out and not wanting to mess with the new roles I promoted Kyle Singler to the starting lineup giving us BK, Monroe and the 3 rooks to start.
The Spurs came out quick 4-0 but a couple Kim English 3's had us back in the lead. That is until an 8-0 Spurs run led by numerous fast break dunks pushed in to 20-12 San Antonio. Knight had already committed three turnovers and we weren't even 8 minutes in. We traded blows and a Stuckey three ended the quarter 31-23 Spurs.

With Jerebko out we activated Charlie V and decided to give him a shot to start the quarter. 40 seconds later he had two fouls and was back on the bench. Thanks Charlie! Things went downhill from there - within three minutes the fouls were 5 to 0 for the quarter and Frank was steamed. It didn't take long for one more whistle and a T. A few Manu free throws later and it was 40-25. There would be eight Pistons fouls before one called on the Spurs and suddenly DeJuan Blair had a million points (ok 18). The Spurs were 13/16 from the line, we were 0/0. I could sense Frank getting ready to lose it on the sideline. Sure enough on the following possession Monroe got mugged with no call at the rack and Frank lost it. I can't blame him - I had begun warming up in the luxury box in case I decided to go down there and hurl a chair across the floor.

The free throws from that point on evened out but the game was out of reach at that point. The stats were rather irrelevant - its a blowout and the coach got tossed so not much use analyzing this one.

Player of the Game
Manu Ginobili
33 points
5 assists
4 rebounds
2 steals

A Deal Is Made...
The second trade of the year went down. The Spurs sent PG Gary Neal to the Kings for PG Jimmer Fredette and a 2nd round pick. Neal, a 2010-11 All Rookie 1st Team award winner (which I didn't realize until I looked at his in game player card) was not doing much for the Spurs and Jimmer wasn't even in the Kings rotation. With Neal's contract expiring it looks like the Spurs simply decided to get a different backup guard now rather than worry about paying Neal in the FA market.

Doug Collins returns to The Palace
Game #18 DETROIT 98, Philadelphia 112

We welcome Jonas Jerebko back from his concussion and Lawrence Frank back from his ejection as we try and upend the Sixers. Philly is 14-5, third best in the East, and Bynum has been a beast averaging nearly 22 and 11.

We came out much better this game taking a one point lead into the break but yet another 4th quarter swoon doomed us. A 32-23 finish gave the Sixers the W and left me frustrated by our late collapses. Monroe did his usual damage (24 and 11), Stuckey seems to be fitting in nicely with his 6th man role and scored 18 tonight and the other starters were alright although Drummond spent a bunch of time on the bench again with foul trouble thanks to Andrew Bynum and Jrue Holiday pretty much dominated BK. Bynum had 19 and Holiday 22.

Now if you told me only three Sixers would score in double figures and gave me those two I would say we should win that game. Except that the third was Spencer Hawes going off for 29. That's just a terrible effort by Monroe and Maxiell and really inexcusable. 

The upcoming week won't be easy but we really need to string together some wins. We get the Knicks again (who just beat us by 25 at our place) and then at Washington and home against Indy. We've beaten both those teams already so I'm hoping to come out of next week 12-9.

Player of the Game
Spencer Hawes
29 points
10 rebounds
2 assists

Let's Make A Deal 2
The first big trade of the season takes place in somewhat surprising fashion as the Celtics ship a youngster full of promise in Avery Bradley to the Bulls for Nazr Mohammed, Vlad Radmanovic and a 1st round pick. In other words a salary dump and a pick.

Bradley was only playing 8 minutes per game with Jason Terry and Courtney Lee eating up all the minutes and he clearly was not happy. He goes to the Bulls where they have said he'll start and that gives them one hell of a promising backcourt with Rose and Bradley.

In Other News...
Lamar Odom is unhappy - the former relevant basketball player turned TV Kardashian sidekick thinks he deserves more than 7.7 MPG. His NET of -10.2 and EFF of 1.4 and head coach Vinny Del Negro would suggest otherwise and did so to the media. Trouble in paradise...

As the story broke on TMZ (isn't that where all the celeb stories break) it got me to thinking. What happened to the basketball player Lamar Odom? He's only 32 - his skills couldn't have just vanished as quickly as a bowl of Skittles in front of Lamar could they?

Sometimes there are low risk gambles out there. I think Lamar Odom is one of them. He's on a one year deal for 8 million and he and the Clippers are at odds now. They want to get rid of him - will they take something I want to get rid of. I give the Clips a call and tell them Tayshaun would really like to go to LA. He's from there, he's been a champion, he could provide veteran leadership, he and Chauncey are know, the whole routine. No soap. They don't want his 3 year contract. Where's Elgin Baylor when you need him? Then it hit me. You've got a disgruntled, out of shape PF who seems to have lost his game. I've got a happy-go-lucky, out of shape PF who I don't think ever had much game. It was the perfect solution.

And so, my first deal is made. Detroit sends Charlie Villanueva to the Clippers for Lamar Odom. Straight up. They both make about 8 million this year but Charlie has a player option he'll surely exercise next year while Lamar is on a one year run. Charlie is 5 years younger which meant nothing to me because - well because he's not any good. Even if Lamar is a complete trainwreck the worst case scenario is we send him home to film I Love Khloe and we're 8 million bucks more free next year. But there's an upside - we can give Lamar the chance to resurrect his career. He's versatile - he could play the 3, 4 or 5 for us and this essentially renders Tayshaun useless. I don't know if there is any way possible to get rid of him though but I'm damn sure going to try.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A crucial homestand

I made the phone call to the Hawks and hoped for the best. We started off with the basic premise of Stuckey and Zaza but I wanted a home run. I offered up Stuckey along with Prince and Villanueva in exchange for Pachulia, Devin Harris and Kyle Korver. Talent wise it was a win for ATL and I saw three expiring contracts in a few role players that could at least give us some decent minutes. Unfortunately the Hawks wanted no part of Tayshuan (surprise) and we ended up not making the deal. I guess we're just going to have to wait to see if someone wants Prince and try and build the deal around that.

Game #13 DETROIT 98, Minnesota 122

Well despite not making a deal we had some basketball to play. The T-Wolves came into town 5-6 and had us hoping for a victory but game #13 proved to be quite unlucky as they rolled in and spanked us.

Monroe is still rolling going for 21 and 8 and Stuckey had a nice line with 19 and 9 assists but did so on 8/22 shooting. Prince only had 9 and Knight was scoreless and he's really starting to concern me. It seems that ever since Stuckey started playing the backup PG role he's come on while BK for some reason has stunk. Maybe its the extra time being paired with English and Jerebko on the floor? Those two combined for 23 bench points.

The T-Wolves shot a ridiculous 15/27 from downtown including 7 threes from Chase Budinger off the bench. Love had 30 and 14, Rubio double doubled and Kirilenko dropped 22 on us with a full stat line. Just an all around ugly performance we have to shake off before Melo comes to town in a couple days.

Player of the Game
Kevin Love
30 points
14 rebounds
1 block
1 steal

These guys are good now?
Game #14 DETROIT 84, New York 109

Prior to the game I got another email from Sacramento telling me they would still be happy to unload Jason Thompson on us. If they would take Prince and CV with Stuckey I would think about it but there's just no reason to take on that kind of long term deal.

So the Knicks rolled into town at 12-2 tied with Miami for the best record in the East. We knew we would have our hands full with Melo. Prince can't guard anybody anymore and Melo just destroyed him. 19/28 and 43 points later we found ourselves at the wrong end of another ass whooping. We've given up a total of 353 points in the last 3 games now. Defense be damned. Amare dropped 25 on us and Tyson Chandler hit us up for 19.

We're just a disaster offensively. I think I used the term dumpster fire earlier in the blog...that's being kind at this point. Knight woke up with 17 points but Monroe was held to 14 and Jerebko and English were the only two others in double figures.

The wheels are falling off fast now and its only giving me incentive to really order a big shakeup. How much more of this will I be able to stand?

Player of the Game
Carmelo Anthony
43 points
12 rebounds
2 blocks

A Trade!
This week Chris Wilcox of the Celtics decided he wasn't playing enough and let that be known to the media. When questioned about it Doc Rivers replied that he should be more professional and basically just shut up and play. One day later he was gone - and not only traded but traded to the Bobcats for a future 2nd round draft pick. The moral of the story? Don't complain about PT - you could end up on the Bobcats!

The Bucks stop here
Game #15 DETROIT 109, Milwaukee 94

I decided to perform a little experiment this game - basically what would happen without Tayshaun Prince in the lineup. The game started off well enough with a 35 point opening quarter that saw buckets by the usual crew but also a bucket each for Slava Kravtsov and Austin Daye. Desperate times and all...

The second quarter was slowed down by early foul trouble. Knight picked up a quick third and only managed four minutes in the first half. Monroe also picked up his third so that meant alot of Rodney Stuckey at point and some extra run for Kyle Singler who had a decent half with two points but more importantly five assists, three boards, a steal and a block. 61-44 at the half in favor of us.

Kim English stole the show in the third coming in to score 11 off the bench in the quarter. That along with a couple buckets from Jerebko, Singler and Stuckey (on a ton of shots) allowed us to take a 84-68 lead into the final quarter. Would the fourth be our undoing like usual? It would not be. Greg Monroe came alive with 14 of his 25 in the quarter and Jonas added another 8 to open the game up. The reserves got some extra run in the final two minutes up by twenty although Scott Skiles continued to leave his starters on the floor. Guess he must have had Monta Ellis in his fantasy lineup that week as Ellis was commissioned to shoot at will and ended up with a game high 36 points.

We certainly didn't miss Prince's lack of offense on the night and the defense seemed a little better. Rodney Stuckey was incredibly inefficient though. Not only the 3/9 shooting but five turnovers and numerous times Jennings and Ellis blew right by him with the ball. Drummond played his best game in a while with 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. English played 32 minutes off the bench and Jerebko 36 and they combined for 37 points including some key offense in the second half. Even Austin Daye played alright scoring 6 points in 10 minutes. The takeaway from the game was that it was time to work the phones and find a deal. CV31 might accept being on the inactive roster but that's not going to fly with Tayshaun and Stuckey.

Player of the Game
Greg Monroe
25 points
11 rebounds
1 steal

After The Game...
Turns out word of the Atlanta and Sacramento trade talks got out and I got questioned by the local media on shopping Rodney Stuckey. Perhaps it was the dynamite offensive performance of Kim English in the 3rd quarter or maybe the layup line drill going through my head of Stuckey defensive possessions but I completely abandoned my usual GM-speak and confirmed the rumor. Stuckey was questioned as well and said he was fine with it and that its a business so I guess everything is ok - well at least until I take away his minutes coming up.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Two to measure

I had decided to give the team two more games before I considered a significant shakeup. Who knows what I could get out of Atlanta but its pretty clear they would like Stuckey to replace Joe Johnson there but before we can get to them it was time to welcome last year's rookie of the year, Kyrie Irving, and the rest of the Cavs (it turns out the team name was always Cavaliers and not LeBrons as once thought).

Game #11 DETROIT 107, Cleveland 86
Another case of Michigan
beating up on Ohio

I was excited to get Kyle Singler on the floor tonight - as mentioned early on I think he's a valuable piece of the puzzle going forward and with Maggette going down it was a chance to see what he could do. Turns out he did pretty much what I thought he would do. 14 minutes, 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers. But Singler wasn't the only future star that was on display tonight.

Apparently the talk of Drummond belonging in a bench role may have inspired the youngster. He still only managed 24 minutes because of foul trouble but what an inspired 24 minutes! 11 points, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks and 4 steals to earn his first ever player of the game honors. We need to work with him about cutting down the fouls and staying on the floor but the energy out of him was phenomenal tonight.

Drummond wasn't the leading scorer of the night though - that honor belonged to another one of our core young players...Kim English. Yup, English was 3/3 from long range on his way to 19 points off the bench (and oddly enough zero other stats) but it was good enough to outscore everyone else on the floor tonight. The bench has really come alive - we got 14 out of Jerebko and even 9 out of Max. Monroe finished with a respectable 17 but only 8 for Stuckey. If English is the real deal then there is certainly less reason to think about paying Rodney 8.5 million next year.

Irving led the Cavs with 18 while #4 overall pick Dion Waiters added a grand total of 2 points. Varejao had a typical Andy V game - 14 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks...that guy belongs on a contender.

Player of the Game
Andre Drummond
11 points
7 rebounds
5 blocks
4 steals

Making Headlines
Apparently an 8-3 start hasn't given the city enough to talk about - one of the local beat writers decided to shoot me an email in regards to a rumor he had heard. What dirt could he have on me yet? I just took over this gig. Turns out he heard that Charlie Villanueva was being shopped around and wanted my confirmation. Many amusing quips ran through my head but I decided to play along with the green beat writer and confirmed what everyone else already knows that yes, I would trade Charlie. I would also give Charlie away or even auction off his services for a local rec team if they wanted him. Apparently my reply sat well with CV31 though - I kind of think he would like to be traded to a city that doesn't know much about basketball and wouldn't realize that even the Dominican Republic team didn't want him.

Game #12 Detroit 88, BOSTON 122
They're still bitter
about Chauncey

Lots of questions going into this game. Was our first win against them a fluke? Can English prove he can play a big role and allow me to move Stuckey? Will Darko see the floor this time???

We came out firing - taking a 28-23 lead after one but the wheels quickly fell off from there. Apparently the C's decided this time to try and coax Rodney Stuckey into shooting as much as possible in an attempt to disrupt our offense and it worked. Stuckey fired up 20 shots - 3 more than Monroe and 5 more than the other 3 starters combined. Stuckey led all scorers with 24 points but completely took everyone else out of their rhythm.

The whole game was a train wreck. Paul Pierce scored at will on Prince leading all scorers with 25. Monroe countered with 22 points but that was it scoring wise for us. KG and Terry had 19 a piece and Rondo did his thing with 13 and 9 assists. Worst of all...Darko played. He played 5 statless minutes but still - when Doc put him in the game you knew it was closed out.

Player of the Game
Paul Pierce
25 points
3 assists
6 rebounds
3 blocks
1 steal

A Verdict?
12 games in and we are 8-4 with all four losses being road losses and two of them being to Boston and LA so I can't complain there. My biggest question lies with the Tayshaun/Stuckey situation. Did I make the situation worse than it is by giving Jerebko and English more minutes? Am I looking at them as the problems with the old team and unfairly scapegoating them? They do have the 3rd and 4th highest NET on the team and Rodney is second in EFF and 3rd on the team in PER. Is it worth it to trade those guys in what amounts to basically an attempt to dump salary above all else and jeopardize making the playoffs this year? If we make the playoffs are we good enough to beat anyone? At the very least I owned Atlanta a return phone call...would I know what to say when they answered?