Pistons-Warriors: Detroit Still Finding Team Identity
Thursday night and into Friday morning (if you're on the East Coast) the Detroit Pistons showed moments of brilliance and moments of disarray.
After a slow start, and an even worse out of halftime performance, the Pistons went on a couple different scoring runs to squeak out a victory over the Warriors 107-102.
Allen Iverson finished with 23 points on a lackluster 8-of-23 shooting to help the Pistons. Richard Hamilton, getting back to his old self, finished with 24 points on 7-of-15 shooting in 40 minutes of work.
It was another lackluster start for the Pistons (6-2) who finished the first half down by seven to the Warriors (3-6), only to come out of the locker room after the half looking like a team who had never stepped on the same hardwood together.
The Warriors went on a quick run right out of halftime, but the Pistons answered after a timeout by coach Michael Curry who reminded them they looked like a sloppy, out of shape team "and that's not what we're all about."
The Pistons went on to outscore the Warriors 34-20 in the third quarter.
The Pistons' streakiness continued as the Warriors went on another run in the fourth, but the Pistons eventually closed them out in the final minutes.
What to take out of this game? This Pistons team still has a lot of work to do. They are struggling to find their identity. They seem not to know whether they should be an up-tempo, push the ball offense, or their old self with the half-court style offense and set plays.
This is what happens when you have a superstar who likes to push the ball. But as Curry emphasized at halftime, the Pistons need to push the ball off of turnovers they create, yet need to slow down the tempo elsewhere. They did this in the second half much better, and had better consistency because of it.
Another thing that has become apparent is that the Pistons are in trouble down low. They need Antonio McDyess back and bad. He is expected to re-sign with the Pistons on Dec. 7, the earliest date he is allowed to because of the infamous Gary Payton rule.
Until then Curry has to find a solution. Amir Johnson, who was the starting PF, was replaced by Kwame Brown tonight, so Rasheed Wallace could move back to PF and Brown to center.
However, Curry seemed displeased with Brown's play, too. He finished after playing just nine minutes. Johnson off the bench played only eight minutes.
(An early mess up on a drawn up play out of a timeout led Curry to bring Johnson to the bench after just 30 seconds, and he seemed to be in the dog house the rest of the night.)
The Pistons went mostly to a three-guard set in the second half, moving Prince down low, and playing Iverson, Hamilton, and either Aaron Affalo (11 points in 28 minutes) or Will Bynum (six points in 12 minutes), who has shown a lot in place of the "dizzy" Rodney Stuckey (who will return to action tomorrow).
It worked out well but there is a major size and strength issue in this set, making it all the more important to countdown McDyess' return. Without him, this team would have no chance in the playoffs.
The road gets no easier for the Pistons who have to get right back at it tomorrow against the undefeated Los Angeles Lakers (10:30 p.m. EST, TNT).
For now Brown is the new starting center, but it will be a constant soul search to find the right combination down low until McDyess returns. Jason Maxiell has certainly had a disappointing start to the season.
A 6-2 record is certainly not bad for a team who has experienced such adversity so early. The growing pains seem to continue, but only time will tell the true story of the 2008-2009 Detroit Pistons.
Side note: The Chicago Bulls signed former Piston Lindsey Hunter today. It is a non-guaranteed contract.
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