Currently viewing the tag: "Oklahoma City Thunder"

0 and 5.  Zero and Five.  Winless.  Awful.  Outcoached.  Outplayed.

Rodney Stuckey

Photo/Getty Images

Whatever the adjective, this team went from bad to worse in a stretch of 4 games.  Finger pointing from the players and coaches on “who is doing what wrong and why” or “who isn’t doing what they’re supposed to do”, and whatever else that goes on when we try to deflect blame on to another when we fall short as individuals.

Plain and simple:  No one is doing their jobs right now.  Players play, Coaches coach.  The team is getting it’s butt kicked in both aspects of the game and something needs to change.  The talent is there, the coaches have experience, what’s the problem?

The team is hamstrung, and until a change happens, this is what we’re going to be stuck with.  When I say a “change”, I don’t mean necessarily a trade or a new coach, etc.  When I say “change”, I mean the players need to start playing up to their talent level and the coaches need to put the right systems and lineups in place to put the players in the best chance to succeed.

As I’ve said before, this team has talent.  It may be the “sum of it’s parts” talent and not “superstar” talent, but as we’ve seen in the past the “sum of it’s parts” has success when all players buy in.

To review this season so far:

Game 1: Detroit loses to the New Jersey Nets after leading late into the second half, in New Jersey.  You can accept a loss like this occasionally because it is a road game.  What’s unacceptable is that the lane was open all night for penetration.

Game 2: Detroit loses to the Oklahoma City Thunder in their home opener on a last second layup by Jeff Green.  This game was back and forth all night with one of the Western Conference’s upstart teams.  This game was a very winnable game and in my opinion was the best defensive showing on Kevin Durant all season.

Game 3: Detroit loses to the Chicago Bulls in the Bulls home opener after losing a 19 point lead in the 3rd and 4th quarters.  This was the start of the downward trend that has shown for the last 3 games.  Coaches have put players in a situation where they can’t succeed, players aren’t hitting shots, players are hesitant, etc.  This was the worst second half defensive game of the season.

Game 4: Detroit loses to the Boston Celtics in Detroit.  The Celtics dominated the Pistons in all aspect of the game.  At the end of the game Coach Kuester remarks the team needs leaders, Tayshaun Prince says it starts with the Coach and the fingers start to point.

Game 5: Detroit loses to the Atlanta Hawks in Atlanta.  Close game throughout, but this game was not without it’s own drama.  Ben Gordon had a big night but Rodney Stuckey was benched after reportedly not responding to Coach Kuester’s calls to him during a stoppage in play.

In Game 6  and 7 the Pistons play the Charlotte Bobcats and Golden State Warriors before hitting the road for their first West Coast swing of the season where it looks like those 4 games (Warriors, Clippers, Kings, and Trail Blazers) are going to be tough for this team to win.  I believe the first win comes against the Bobcats because the Bobcats are a team that is kind of stuck in neutral like the Pistons are.  They’re in between rosters right now, and looking to make a move to improve their team.

Of course, I thought they should’ve won the Thunder, Nets, Bulls and Hawks games this season too.  So Pistons fans… what’s wrong with this team?  Who does the blame fall on?  Coaches?  Joe Dumars?  Players?  All of the above?

44-20.

No, that wasn’t the final score.  That was the free throw difference on the night.  The Oklahoma City Thunder went to the free throw line 44 times compared to the Pistons 20.  The Thunder converted 21 more times from the line than the Pistons did.  Credit the Thunder for being aggressive on the offensive end when their jumpshots weren’t falling but let’s be honest… Isn’t Durant getting the LeBron treatment with the refs?

Rodney Stuckey and Ben Gordon had one of the best games in recent memory, and it wasn’t enough as the Thunder beat the Pistons 105-104 on a layup by Jeff Green with just over 2 seconds left in the game.  Unlike last night, where the Pistons were given the opportunity for the last shot, but couldn’t convert, tonight they were given a chance to run a play with under 10 seconds and actually achieve a positive outcome.

Ben Gordon agains the Thunder

Photo/AP

With the score 103-101 Thunder leading and 14 seconds left in the game, the Pistons inbounded the ball and passed off to Ben Gordon who drove his man to the basket.  As Gordon blew by his man, Thabo Sefolosha left his man (Charlie Villanueva) alone in the corner for the drive and kick corner 3 to put the Pistons up 104-103.  Then on the next inbound play, Jeff Green, who had shot poorly for the better part of the game, was able to take Jason Maxiell off the dribble for a layup to win the game for the Thunder.

  • Kevin Durant was held in check most of the night but was still able to pour in 30 points on 24 shots, while pulling down 8 rebounds.  The numbers tonight were right near his career averages of 24.8 ppg and 7.5 rebounds per game against the Pistons.
  • Charlie Villanueva has put up back to back solid games off the bench.  Tonight, he added 12 points and 7 rebounds and was a team high +8 in the plus/minus category.
  • Bless Jason Maxiell’s heart.  He’s willing to guard some of the toughest big men in the league.  He’ll guard whoever he’s asked to guard.  So the blame falls to Coach K for the matchup of Maxiell on Jeff Green which allowed for the game winning layup to happen.  Jeff Green, although listed as the starting PF for the Thunder, is more of a SF and it showed as he was able to use his quickness off the dribble to blow by Maxiell on the way to the basket for a nearly uncontested layup.
  • Rodney Stuckey scored 24 points on 10-18 shooting with 9 assists and 5 rebounds and added some pretty solid defense against Russell Westbrook, one of the better PG in the  Western Conference.
  • Ben Gordon had an efficient scoring night off the bench – 32 points on 16 field goal attempts.
  • Hurry back Will!  Will Bynum missed the game with a sore hamstring.

Tough loss for the home opener of the 2010-2011 season for the Pistons but, there’s reason to find some hope in this loss.  Although it’s clearly evident that the Pistons need front court help (Villanueva was the only “big” who had double figure points), the guards (Stuckey, Gordon and Hamilton) are making the most of their chances on the floor and converting at a high percentage.

Join me later on tonight for the Live Game Chat as the Pistons travel to Chicago to face the Bulls, in their home opener.