True Blue Pistons - March 2014

Keith Langlois
About Keith Langlois
Award-winning journalist Keith Langlois, most recently lead sports columnist at The Oakland Press, joined as the web site editor on October 2, 2006. Langlois, who brings over 27 years of professional sports journalism experience to Palace Sports & Entertainment, serves as's official beat writer and covers the team on a daily basis.

Questions and comments on Keith's posts can be submitted via the Pistons Mailbag. Or follow Keith on Twitter.

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Posted Monday, March 31, 2014

There was nothing head scratching about the underlying causes of the nine-point deficit the Pistons faced when they gathered at halftime.

Milwaukee, which doesn’t fit the definition of an offensive juggernaut, piled up 61 first-half points mostly because the Bucks were scoring without resistance. By John Loyer’s count, they scored seven points in transition after Pistons baskets, which is on the list of cardinal sins no matter how short your list gets.

“We just have to get back because a few of those possessions when they got those points fast, they got ’em off of made shots and that’s unacceptable,” Greg Monroe said after the 116-111 win over the Bucks snapped a three-game losing streak, including two weekend losses by a combined 57 points in which the defense was less than stout. “We did a good job of not turning the ball over, because that led to a lot of their fast breaks. And when we scored, everybody made a better effort to get back early.”

Continue reading Bouncing Back>>

Posted Saturday, March 29, 2014

Today’s lesson: the power of humiliation as a motivational factor. The Philadelphia 76ers were one loss from joining the post-LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers in NBA infamy. A loss to the Pistons would have meant their 27th straight defeat, dating to Jan. 29.

Instead, the Pistons had to pack that humiliation in their overhead compartment for the return flight on Roundball One, victims of a 123-98 humbling by a team that’s been administered its share of humblings this season.

“There was no effort tonight,” Greg Monroe bluntly assessed. “Absolutely no effort.” Why? “I don’t have a clue. I can’t speak for everyone. I’m trying every game. I don’t care what the circumstances and it shouldn’t be circumstances. I’m trying to win every game. … It’s tough. It’s really tough. It definitely hurts how we played last night (a 32-point loss to Miami, missing four players). To play like that two nights in a row …”

The turning point – if there can be a turning point in a game decided by 25 points – might have come late in the first quarter when Brandon Jennings, seconds after not getting the benefit of a whistle as he drove to the basket and twisted in mid-air while throwing up a prayer, drew two technical fouls and was ejected from the game. The Pistons were down six at the time. They were down double digits a minute later and never got it under 10 the rest of the night.

Continue reading Flattened in Philly>>

Posted Friday, March 28, 2014

Of the 20,000-plus to cram The Palace for the 25th anniversary celebration of the Bad Boys, nobody had a more unique perspective than a guy who left town a year before the place opened for business.

Ron Rothstein was the man at Chuck Daly’s side for the two seasons that ended more agonizingly than any since Fred Zollner moved the Pistons north from Fort Wayne 57 years ago.

Rothstein was there in 1987 when the Pistons lost at Boston on a sweltering afternoon in late May in a Game 7 and there a year later when they lost on a fine Sunday at the Fabulous Forum in a Game 6 where the corks were all put popped on the champagne cooling in their locker room as Bill Laimbeer was whistled for a crime he never committed.

Continue reading The Innocent Climb>>

Posted Friday, March 28, 2014

If Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers this year, blame the guys the Pistons took in the lottery ahead of him. The Georgia rookie came to a far different roster than Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond before him did.

The Pistons never anticipated that Caldwell-Pope would play a role as significant as their other recent lottery picks when they drafted him, in part because those other young players had established their value but also because the cap space they took into last summer gave the Pistons the opportunity to further stock the roster.

Their record isn’t what they’d hoped or expected – 26-45 with 11 games to play – but there aren’t nearly as many holes on the roster as before Monroe and Drummond were drafted, Brandon Jennings came in trade at the price of Knight and Josh Smith signed on as a free agent.

Continue reading Starting Point >>

Posted Thursday, March 27, 2014

DETROIT – Twenty-five years before Detroit started grabbing national attention for a comeback before the ink on its bankruptcy filing had dried, a cast of characters that would have done an Elmore Leonard novel proud foreshadowed its city’s fighting spirit.

They Bad Boys got back together Thursday night to raise money for charity and, for those who remember their heyday, you’ll be pleased to know that not much has changed. Isiah Thomas’ smile is still blinding. John Salley remains as big a cutup as ever. And time hasn’t done a thing to smooth Bill Laimbeer’s blunt edge.

Ask Laimbeer about the essence of the Bad Boys and he cuts straight to the chase, not sparing the feelings of one of the teams his Pistons had to step over – or on, grinding their heels in the victims on the way – in the process.

“Determination,” he began, expounding on the legacy of the Bad Boys. “We were so determined to do something and have something accomplished. The mental toughness was another one. So many brutal losses over time, trying to get to where we wanted to be. Many teams quit. Many teams give up. Individuals give up. Portland is an example. They got there a couple of times and they never made it and they gave up. I think those are two great traits of individuals and teams.”

Continue reading Still the Bad Boys >>

Posted Thursday, March 27, 2014

If Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers this year, blame the guys the Pistons took in the lottery ahead of him. The Georgia rookie came to a far different roster than Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond before him did.

The Pistons never anticipated that Caldwell-Pope would play a role as significant as their other recent lottery picks when they drafted him, in part because those other young players had established their value but also because the cap space they took into last summer gave the Pistons the opportunity to further stock the roster.

Their record isn’t what they’d hoped or expected – 26-45 with 11 games to play – but there aren’t nearly as many holes on the roster as before Monroe and Drummond were drafted, Brandon Jennings came in trade at the price of Knight and Josh Smith signed on as a free agent.

Continue reading Starting Point>>

Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Last time the Cleveland Cavaliers visited The Palace, it was John Loyer’s second game and the Pistons were headed for their fourth straight win. They led comfortably for much of the night and by 10 with eight minutes to play. And then things unraveled, the Pistons lost by four and went into the All-Star break staggered, losing two critical games on the other side to Charlotte.

That one will loom larger when the story of the Pistons’ thoroughly disappointing 2013-14 season is written. By the time the Cavs made their return visit Wednesday, the playoffs were a fleeting dream for both franchises.

But the magnitude of Detroit’s 97-96 loss was even more staggering. This time they led by 16 points after three quarters and still by nine with 3:38 to play after Kyle Singler’s 12-foot jump shot seemed to give them breathing room when Cleveland had chopped its deficit to seven.

Jarrett Jack scored the game’s next eight points – a 3-point shot, a long 2-point jumper and a conventional three-point play – to pull Cleveland within one with 54 seconds remaining. The Pistons then took all but 3.2 seconds off the clock, awarded possession after Josh Smith missed a jump shot with 28.5 seconds to play and given a fresh 24-second shot clock.

Continue reading Killer Comeback>>

Posted Monday, March 24, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – Since he arrived from Sweden by way of Italy nearly five years ago, Jonas Jerebko’s default line is “I just want to play.” Whether the subject is starting or coming off the bench, power forward or small forward or role within the team framework, his answers always circle back to “I just want to play.”

Since John Loyer took over for Maurice Cheeks 18 games ago, he’s gotten just that chance. Probably not for the duration he’d like, but only in one of those 18 games did Loyer not summon Jerebko from the bench. In 50 games under Cheeks, Jerebko didn’t doff his sweats 17 times. When he did play, he averaged eight minutes a game. It’s been 12 a game under Loyer.

“He always plays with tremendous energy,” said Loyer, who spent two years as an assistant under Lawrence Frank with Jerebko and came to appreciate the things he does that the box score doesn’t always capture. “When Jonas plays within what he’s very, very good at, he’s a good player.”

With a much more consistent role has come a gradual restoration of … confidence? Not quite right.

Jerebko has always displayed a brashness that seemed out of place in someone who arrived from a country known far more for producing hockey players or skiers than elite basketball players. But anyone’s faith in his abilities would be tested by the apparent lack of faith displayed by others, not to mention the rust that needs to be knocked off when sitting idle for unaccustomed lengths.

Continue reading 'I Just Want to Play'>>

Posted Saturday, March 22, 2014

LOS ANGELES – The Pistons played 40 minutes of sublime offensive basketball. Eight of their worst minutes of the season rendered it moot.

After hanging 55 first-half points on the scoreboard despite a first-quarter turnover spurt that dug them a 10-point hole, the Pistons went stone-cold silent for eight interminable minutes of the third quarter. As easily as quality shots came to them in the first half, suddenly nothing went right.

They missed their first 12 shots. Over 14 possessions, they shot 1 of 15. And then the turnovers struck again. Six miscues in the first quarter and six more in the third, five of them in that eight-minute stretch when the Pistons were outscored 18-3, produced 22 Clippers points – way too much largesse for a team with the firepower that All-Stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul supply.

Continue reading Outgunned >>

Posted Friday, March 21, 2014

PHOENIX – The NBA has become amazingly sophisticated with its intricate analysis of every nuance of the game and development of statistical categories that would make Dr. Naismith’s head swim. But you don’t need a doctorate degree to figure out what undermined the Pistons on a Friday night in the desert southwest.

“There’s a lot of things you look at that you wish you could go back and correct,” Josh Smith said after the 98-92 loss to Phoenix, Detroit’s 12th straight road defeat. “We just weren’t able to make free throws and we didn’t take care of the basketball like we normally do.”

Those two categories – foul shooting and turnovers – were glaring red welts on the game’s box score.

The Pistons have been dead last in the NBA in free-throw shooting all season, but they sunk to new depths against the Suns, making just 10 of 26. If they make their average – about two of every three free throws – they probably win the game and deal the Suns a heavy blow in their playoff pursuit.

Continue reading Suns Sink Pistons >>

Posted Friday, March 21, 2014

PHOENIX – The last player off the practice court at US Airways Arena Thursday afternoon was Andre Drummond – chased off, at that. “Save your energy,” Pistons video coordinator Ryan Winters kidded with Drummond as he rounded up the last few loose balls not already bagged up to prevent having to rebound any more Drummond shots while his teammates were filing out toward the team bus.

A few minutes earlier, at the other end of the court, Rasheed Wallace turned his back and Drummond pounced, dribbling from the right wing and tomahawking a vicious dunk with his right hand while he used his left to catapult himself over Wallace’s shoulder.

The Pistons still call him “questionable” for tonight’s game with Phoenix, pending the morning shootaround, but they might have to use a horse tranquilizer on him if they’re going to tell him he can’t play.

Continue reading Looks Like Andre >>

Posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014

DENVER – When the Pistons beat Denver soundly in early February, the game turned when Ty Lawson went out early and the Nuggets had no one to replace him, having banished veteran Andre Miller after clashing with coach Brian Shaw. They addressed their point guard depth at the trade deadline, picking up Aaron Brooks. That trade cost the Pistons a game Wednesday night, a loss they could ill afford with their playoff hopes fading by the day and three more games awaiting them on their Western road swing.

Brooks finished with 27 points and a career-high 17 assists for Denver, 17 points and 11 assists in the second half alone when the Nuggets erased an 11-point deficit.

“He was tough tonight,” said Will Bynum, something of an authority on explosive quarters or halves from backup point guards. “Especially on the pick and roll. You get picked, he’s coming downhill. It’s a tough battle, but when given the opportunity he’s played great in this league. Everybody knows he’s a great player. There’s pretty much no difference between him and Ty Lawson.”

Continue reading Caught Short >>

Posted Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Among the 15 players on their roster, the Pistons count two American-born players who never spent time on a college campus and two Europeans who can say likewise. But there will be no shortage of Pistons keeping tabs on the NCAA tournament this week while the team treks through four Western states on a critical road trip as the NBA season hits the home stretch.

Most of the focus will be on the Midwest region, where three perennial powers – Kyle Singler’s Duke Blue Devils, Peyton Siva’s Louisville Cardinals and Josh Harrellson’s Kentucky Wildcats – were funneled. Duke and Louisville are the highest-seeded teams among Pistons alma maters, the Blue Devils a No. 3 and the Cardinals a No. 4.

Singler, Siva and Harrellson all wrung everything they could from March Madness, each of them playing all the way to the final Monday of the college basketball season with Singler and Siva winning it all and Harrellson’s Kentucky team losing to Connecticut in the 2011 championship game.

Continue reading March Memories >>

Posted Monday, March 17, 2014

The Pistons can’t afford an extended absence from Andre Drummond. Maybe they won’t have to endure one.

Drummond, sidelined after five minutes of Saturday’s overtime loss to Indiana when his head collided with Roy Hibbert’s leg and “sent a shock through my entire body” as Drummond recounted it, won’t play when the Pistons open a four-game road trip Wednesday at Denver.

But they’re not ruling him out for Friday’s game at Phoenix. Drummond didn’t practice on Monday but he was at the practice facility without the neck brace he wore back to The Palace from the hospital after undergoing tests Saturday night.

Continue reading Headed West >>

Posted Saturday, March 15, 2014

First the Pistons lost Andre Drummond. Then they lost a 25-point lead. And then they lost a critical game in overtime.

Coupled with wins by New York and Atlanta, it leaves the Pistons’ playoff chances dimmer than when the day dawned, when they weren’t so bright to begin with. With 16 games remaining, the Pistons are five games behind Atlanta in the standings and six down in the loss column. Eleven of those 16 remaining games come on the road, starting with a four-game swing to the West Coast.

Continue reading Ousted in OT >>

Posted Friday, March 14, 2014

John Loyer’s offensive tweaks introduced more movement and more structure to the Pistons. That’s cut down the number of 3-point attempts from a team that’s spent much of the season ranked last in the NBA in accuracy significantly.

Some of those possessions that used to end in errant triples are now going to Greg Monroe. In the 15 games since Loyer succeeded Maurice Cheeks, Monroe’s numbers are up and that starts with opportunity. He averaged 11.1 shots in 50 games under Cheeks, but 13.6 – better than a 20 percent jump – under Loyer.

“It’s more just the flow of the offense,” Monroe said after Friday’s practice. “Running a little bit more movement plays and pinch-post or high-post plays with movement and cuts.”

Monroe’s numbers in 15 games under Loyer are 16.3 points and 10.8 rebounds, over his season averages of 14.7 and 9.2. He’s playing about three more minutes a game, nearly 36, than he was over the first 50 games.

Continue reading Monroe Rising >>

Posted Thursday, March 13, 2014

The best part about Wednesday for the Pistons? Getting caught in a blizzard. Their loss in Toronto combined with wins by New York and Cleveland leaves them in a tie for the 10th playoff spot with the Cavs, a half-game back of the Knicks. They hoped to use Tuesday’s win over Sacramento, in which they held the Kings to 35 second-half points to end a run of leaky defensive performances, as a springboard to mount a charge at Atlanta for the Eastern Conference’s last postseason berth.

They forgot about the sneak attack from the rear. Since losing big and looking awful at The Palace 10 days ago, the Knicks have won five straight. And convincingly – all by double figures and by an average of 15.2 points. It started with a 12-point win at Minnesota, where the Pistons would fall behind by 31 points two nights later in the third quarter.

It’s exactly the out-of-nowhere turnaround that John Loyer keeps … predicting? Expecting? Hoping for? He’s said over and over again in the month-plus since succeeding Maurice Cheeks what winning just two or three games in a row would mean for the Pistons’ playoff chances.

Continue reading Caught From Behind >>

Posted Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A three-game winning streak, John Loyer marveled earlier this week, was all that separated the Pistons from perhaps vaulting themselves into a potential playoff berth. But before you can win three in a row, you must win two straight. The Pistons haven’t done so in more than a month now, when a win over San Antonio in Loyer’s debut as head coach gave them that elusive three-game winning streak.

They missed another chance to win consecutive games Wednesday in snowy Toronto . They ran out of comebacks in a game of wild mood swings and now they’re beginning to run out of time to make a comeback in the standings, falling five games back of Atlanta in the loss column for the final playoff spot in the East with 17 games to play after the 101-87 loss to the Raptors.

The Pistons, playing their third game in four nights, looked a half-step slower than they did in Tuesday’s win over Sacramento . Their closeouts on shooters weren’t as crisp, their blockouts when Toronto shots went up not as firm as required, their cuts off of screens sluggish. It was the perfect recipe to produce a big man for the likes of ex-Piston Amir Johnson, who remains the bundle of energy he was when he joined the Pistons out of high school in 2005.

“They made a conscious effort of putting a body on our bigs and they were able to limit us to one shot tonight,” said Josh Smith after a 13-point night on 5 of 17 shooting that typified his team’s missed opportunities. “They’re hard workers, all their bigs. They play hard. They have high motors and we knew that coming in. We weren’t able to match their intensity tonight.”

Continue reading Snowed Under >>

Posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It’s this simple for the Pistons. If they play defense as consistently hard and as steadfastly disciplined as they managed to do for the second half of Tuesday’s 99-89 win over Sacramento, they’ll make the playoffs.

Anything less – or anything that more closely resembles the defense they’ve put into evidence for the past month or so up until Tuesday’s halftime – and they almost certainly will pack the equipment away after the April 17 regular-season finale.

The Pistons gave up 54 points to Sacramento in the first half of a game that put them exactly on course to give up the 108 they’ve averaged over the past 13 since John Loyer took over from Mo Cheeks.

They gave up 11 in the third quarter, 35 in the second half when Sacramento managed all of 14 baskets, three of them coming in the last 90 seconds when the Pistons had safely tucked their 99-89 win away.

Continue reading There's the D >>

Posted Monday, March 10, 2014

The box score from Sunday’s game at Boston – the Detroit half of it, at least – looked a lot like Pistons fans might have envisioned it last summer when they signed Josh Smith in free agency to slot alongside Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe in a frontcourt that held every promise of being consistently productive verging on dominant.

The Pistons bludgeoned Boston up front. Drummond, Monroe and Smith combined for 68 points and 47 rebounds, which breaks down to 22.7 points and 15.7 rebounds a man across the front. Staggering numbers.

Yet the Pistons had to rally to lose by seven.

When John Loyer was asked after the 118-111 loss if his team’s shot selection contributed to the loss, he made it pretty clear where he felt the real problem was rooted.

“We score enough to win,” he said. “We’ve got to defend. You score 111 points, you better have a good chance to win the game. We didn’t defend.”

In Loyer’s 13 games, the Pistons are 3-10 largely because they’re surrendering 107.8 points a game, allowing teams to shoot 48 percent. The Pistons now rank 27th in scoring defense at 103.8 for the season, ahead of only Denver, the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia. The Pistons have sunk to a tie for last with Philadelphia in opponent field-goal percentage at .469.

Continue reading Dealing with Defense >>

Posted Sunday, March 9, 2014

BOSTON – If there’s one thing the Pistons did consistently well in John Loyer’s first dozen games, it was take care of the basketball: 11 a game, No. 2 in the NBA, as Loyer volunteered after Sunday’s latest damaging loss. Sure enough, turnovers conspired with a few other flaws to be their undoing in Boston.

That’s the way it goes when you’re going bad. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

Or, as Loyer would say after the 118-111 loss to Boston, “You fix one little hole and another one pops up.”

Against a Boston team that effectively conceded its playoff chances when it traded away Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett last summer, a new problem reared its head in virtually every quarter.

The Pistons allowed six offensive rebounds in the first quarter, turned the ball over five times in the second quarter and then watched the Celtics drop 8 of 13 triples in the third quarter when the Pistons fell 17 points behind. The fourth quarter saw the Pistons fight back within four with less than a minute to play and they were a Kyle Singler layup from pulling within two with 28 seconds left, a shot Jared Sullinger contested.

Continue reading Boston Blitz >>

Posted Saturday, March 8, 2014

BOSTON – The Pistons are a mere 3-9 since John Loyer replaced Mo Cheeks a little less than a month ago. But Loyer took the keys just as the Pistons were about to enter a road filled with more potholes than the winter-battered Michigan byways. Of the 12 games under Loyer, nine have come against teams currently holding a playoff position.

The schedule softens – a little, at least – starting now. The weekend trip that took them first to Minnesota and now to Boston will double the number of current non-playoff teams the Loyer-coached Pistons have faced from two to four, though Minnesota – which entered Friday’s game at .500 – surely would be in favorable playoff position if it played in the East. Of their final 20 games, the Pistons will play nine teams that currently are lottery bound.

That gives them a chance, at least, to make the final quarter of their season look more like their first quarter rather than their middle two. The Pistons were 10-10 through 20 games, but 14-28 – two losses for every win – through the 42 games that take them into Sunday’s meeting with the Celtics.

Continue reading Fourth-Quarter Push >>

Posted Friday, March 7, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS – Remember back in December when the Pistons went 6-1 over a stretch of seven road games? That seems like a very long time ago. The Pistons lost their eighth straight roadie Friday at Minnesota. Like their last game away from The Palace – last Saturday at Houston – they got buried early, virtually ceding any chance for a win long before the first quarter was over.

“It’s always surprising when you don’t play your best and we didn’t play our best,” John Loyer said after the 114-101 loss to the Timberwolves. “We probably had our best shootaround or second best in my 12 games here, had a good little practice yesterday. We need to do a better job of starting the game. They’re the No. 1 first-quarter team in the league and we talked about that this morning. You’ve got to get off to a better start. You-can’t play catch-up against a team with that many offensive weapons.”

Minnesota scored inside at will and in transition with ease to burst to a double-digits lead less than seven minutes after tipoff. It was a 20-point deficit before the 10-minute mark. It was 30 before the third quarter was out. The Pistons outscored Minnesota 32-17 in the fourth quarter to make the final score as close as the game had been since midway through the first quarter.

Continue reading Over Early>>

Posted Thursday, March 6, 2014

Chauncey Billups came home not to take a victory lap around the NBA in a Pistons uniform, but to restore the pride that name across the front of the jersey not so long ago fostered in those lucky enough to wear it.

He came to lead, but not from the rear. Joe Dumars sold him on the value his 3-point shot and fourth-quarter savvy would hold for a young team built around Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe and fortified with marquee veteran pickups Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.

A balky left knee that has limited him to 19 games has made that impossible. Billups – who said his rehabilitation from minor surgery late last month is going well and he still hopes to return before the season ends – knows that, at 37, the clock is ticking on him. And while it’s frustrating enough to hear that ticking while the games keep flying by with him in street clothes, it’s made more painful to sit while his team repeats mistakes in March that cost them games in November.

Continue reading A Message From Chauncey>>

Posted Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Pistons were 10-10 when they walked out of the United Center with a win for the first time in 15 trips to Chicago nearly three months ago. It was their fourth straight win. Heading out into the frosty December air that night, it seemed like that would be the last of .500 the team Joe Dumars assembled over the off-season would see for a good long while. The Bulls, still absorbing the shock of losing Derrick Rose to another devastating knee injury, fell to 8-10 that night. Not too much farther along, they would essentially give Luol Deng – an All-Star whom Tom Thibodeau leaned on for 40 minutes most nights – to the Cleveland Cavaliers to slash their luxury tax bill.

It sure seemed like two teams passing as ships in the night.

Fast forward to March, the Midwest still in the relentless clutches of a brutal winter. Chicago came to The Palace with a 25-17 record since the Pistons strangled the Bulls 92-75 that night. The Pistons, who lost their next three games after that rousing win in Chicago, have lost nearly two of every three games, a 14-26 record, since then.

Continue reading Bulls Rush Late>>

Posted Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The game wasn’t a minute old when Andre Drummond blocked Tyson Chandler’s dunk attempt in Monday’s win over New York. Pretty good bet that was in the back of Chandler’s mind about eight minutes later when he absorbed a hard foul by Greg Monroe and did a little aggravated jostling with Drummond in the aftermath.

It could have escalated but for Amar'e Stoudemire’s intervention.

“Amar'e came over to me and said, ‘It’s gonna be a battle tonight,’ ” Drummond said after the game. “That made me cool down and made me realize what I was up against. Guys are really starting to respect me now and they’re talking to me on the floor. It was pretty cool to have him give me input to calm me down.”

Continue reading A Dominant Drummond>>

Posted Monday, March 3, 2014

Andre Drummond punched in and logged another quietly effective, borderline dominant first half against the Knicks on Monday. He had 13 boards and three blocks by halftime, but the Knicks – selling out to take away lanes for lob dunks from him – limited Drummond to only five points and two shot attempts.

But the big picture wasn’t good. In a game about as close to must-have as it gets with 23 left to play and the Pistons sitting four back in the loss column of Atlanta for the final playoff spot, the Pistons trailed by five at the break.

Midway through the third quarter, Drummond took the wraps off.

In a span of less than three minutes, he scored nine straight Pistons points as they stretched a two-point lead into a seven-point cushion that was never threatened. He finished with 17 points and a career-best 26 rebounds, the most by any Piston in a dozen years since Ben Wallace grabbed 28 in March 2002 against Boston.

Continue reading Knicks Knocked Down>>

Posted Saturday, March 1, 2014

HOUSTON – Here’s what happened in the first three minutes on a deflating Saturday night: two Kyle Singler fouls, three Houston Rockets dunks, two Pistons turnovers, a Houston triple, a Pistons timeout and a double-digits deficit. Even given the inevitable momentum swings contained within seemingly every NBA game, this one’s fate appeared sealed just that fast.

Houston led 41-20 after a first quarter in which the Rockets dunked eight times on their way to 13 dunks and 11 layups for the game. The Rockets shot 71 percent in the first quarter, 17 of 24, though 12 of those 17 baskets were either dunks or layups.

“I told our guys, we played harder in practice yesterday (than) for the first 24 minutes,” John Loyer said after the 118-110 loss. “We had more juice, more energy running the three-man weave than we did playing here. Really, our first half, we didn’t play with the energy, the enthusiasm, the desire you have to play at to play against any NBA team, let alone a high-level team like Houston.”

Continue reading Too Far to Climb >>