Monday, October 29, 2012

A Decent Start

Game #1 - DETROIT 120, Indiana 97
We'll meet again

Well as we prepared for the opening game of the season a giant monkey wrench was tossed into our long term plans. Apparently the Thunder decided to get cheap and traded James Harden away to the Rockets who had no problem offering him the big extension he was after so we can scratch that name off the list.

No worries though, we have a season to get to and we kicked it off by hosting division rival Indiana. The Pacers are a tough ball club with a kid I would love to have on our team (Paul George) and they jumped all over us early leading 27-18 after one. We fought back though and managed to take a 3 point lead into the break. After 3 we held onto only a two point lead and that's when the floodgates opened. Pacers coach Frank Vogel decided to throw some zone into the mix and we responded in a big way. Jonas Jerebko caught fire off the bench knocking down two triples on his way to 22 points in only 25 minutes. The offensive spark coupled with some nasty shutdown defense from our frontcourt future studs Drummond and Monroe was just too much. The Pacers would score only 15 points in the 4th to our 36 and that's all she wrote.

Greg Monroe
25 points
9 rebounds
4 steals

Monroe was a beast and I think could have an all-star season. I decided the best thing to do with Andre Drummond was just throw him into the fire. He started and only played 25 minutes due to foul trouble but those minutes showed both how raw he is (5 PF, 4/15 shooting) and how good he can be (4 steals, 3 blocks). Brandon Knight did not disappoint with a very efficient 16 points, 8 assists and 2 steals. Danny Granger led the Pacers with 30 points and Tayshaun proved he's definitely lost something defensively - a big reason why he's not in the long term plans here.

Nobody beats the Wiz...but we did
Game #2 - DETROIT 106, Washington 98

Feeling good about our opening game we were looking forward to hosting the Wiz who came in 0-1 and for the second game in a row we held an opponent to under 100 points. Lawrence Frank preaches solid defense and that's the kind of coach I like and it looks like the players are buying in. Our 3 point shot deserted us as we went 1 for 6 from deep and we shot an atrocious 67.5% on a whopping 40 free throw attempts. Monroe and Knight accounted for more than half the attempts but only combined for 14/24. Those two need to be better than that if we're going to beat the better competition.

Greg Monroe
28 points
8 rebounds
1 block

Despite his poor performance at the stripe Monroe once again takes home player of the game honors. He gutted out 41 minutes and like I said, I see a franchise player here. Andre Drummond once again was limited to 24 minutes - we're going to have to work with him defensively. He's an athletic freak and blocked 4 shots while altering another two or three but he must rotate quicker in help and stop going for shot fakes. Imagine what he could do in 30-35 minutes! BK was brutal from the floor going 0/6 but at least he put up 9 assists and Rodney Stuckey is wearing out his welcome quickly with me. 12 points in 33 minutes is one thing but 5 turnovers isn't going to fly. I've never been a Stuckey guy - I never thought he was a PG and now I am not so sure he's even a good shooting guard. 

In one other game note we suffered our first injury of the season. Lawrence Frank inexplicably inserted Austin Daye into the game. Daye played a total of two minutes and came away with a sprained finger. No word of the injury happened during the two minutes of on court time or from being surprised being sent into the game while busy tweeting from the end of the bench. Needless to say he won't be missed.

Don't call us the LOLcats
Game #3 - Detroit 112, CHARLOTTE 114

Our first test on the road this season and thankfully it was against the lowly Bobcats. The Bobcats were off to an unsurprising 0-2 start so we were hoping for an opportunity to start 3-0 on the year. We started this one with a big time defensive effort. We came away with steals on 4 early possessions and jumped out to a big first quarter lead. It looked like we would be on cruise control in this one. However Ben Gordon came in off the bench in apparently an effort to spite his former team and dropped a couple threes. That plus some cold shooting on our part only let us go into the half with a 58-43 lead. Bismack Biyombo looked solid for the 'Cats going for 10 points, 5 boards and 2 blocks in the half while Tayshaun admittedly played a very good first half with 8 points, 7 boards, 3 steals and a block.

A couple things stood out in the first half. On the good side - Jonas Jerebko entered the game and within 15 seconds had an offensive board that led to a Monroe bucket. He knocked down a three at a crucial junction too. Kim English got some run too and impressed by drawing an offensive foul. Of course the reason he got some PT was because Rodney Stuckey stunk up the joint in the first half. I'm searching the rolodex as we speak for trade partners.

The second half started poorly - two quick whistles within thirty seconds sent Monroe to the bench with his 4th foul and me wondering if MJ made a visit with the refs at halftime. Never fear though because our Super Swede is here! JJ came in and started heating up again. He finished with 10 in the quarter. We also got key contributions from Maxiell with 6 off the bench and Kim English came up with 2 big steals and a triple in relief of Stuckey to lead us to an 84-75 lead after three.

The fourth quarter came and a chance to put the game out of reach quickly unraveled. The Bobcats dominance on the glass (40-27 at this point) finally started to catch up with us. Biyombo was a huge force and our offense went cold with back to back traveling possessions by Maggette and Stuckey. Then Stuckey apparently not happy enough with his 1 for 5 shooting day and costly turnover got T'd up and was sent to the bench. A Kemba Walker  triple would give the Bobcats their first lead of the game on the ensuing possession. We would fall behind by as many as five before Jerebko returned to the floor. A flurry of JJ buckets and a Monroe and-1 tied it up at 100 with just under 5 minutes to go.

With under a minute to go and down two we take timeout. Lawrence Frank decides to go pick and roll with Tayshaun and Monroe and Prince filled up a nice J off the pick to tie the game only to watch Biyombo score his 24th points of the game on the other end. Down two and ten seconds to go Frank inserted Maggette and decided to go for the win on a night we were getting pummeled physically. The Maggette three would not go and we dropped our first game.

Bismack Biyombo
24 points
10 rebounds
4 blocks

What more can be said? Monroe finished with 24/8, Jerebko with 21/5/3 steals off the bench, BK had 19...Drummond did a terrible job defensively although he had two huge blocks on a possession late to keep us in the game but Biyombo cannot score 24 points on you. Prince did nothing in the second half except the one jumper to tie the game and Stuckey is officially in the doghouse and I will be making calls looking for a trade.


An exciting first week overall. Boston, New York and Dallas are all off to 3-0 starts and Dirk and Melo have been sick offensively averaging 34 a game each. We sit atop the Central at 2-1, 1/2 game in front of Chicago and we've got a tough stretch next week as we head into Toronto, Brooklyn and then home against the Celtics. In the meantime I'm off to work the phones and to talk to Lawrence Frank about our shooting guard position.

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