Feeling Fine in Philly
“It’s the formula for winning,” Lawrence Frank said of the across-the-board contributions the Pistons received on a night Rodney Stuckey was down with the flu and Kyle Singler made a smashing starting debut. “Holding them under 30 percent was tremendous. High assists, outrebounded them, got to the free-throw line. Everyone who played contributed. It shows what we’re capable of doing.”
Except for a sluggish start – the Pistons had three quick turnovers and missed three of their first four shots – it was pretty much a wire-to-wire win. The Pistons took the lead for good on a Greg Monroe layup to make it 17-15 with 3:36 left in the first quarter, stretched the lead to six by the end of the quarter, to 18 by halftime and to 23 in the fourth quarter.
“We played 48 minutes tonight,” said Monroe, whose fifth double-double of the season was an emphatic one with 19 points and 18 rebounds. “We had some lapses on both ends of the court in other games. Tonight we did a good job of withstanding runs. Whenever we did get a little drought, we’d either get to the free-throw line or get an easy bucket. Throughout all that on offense tonight, we didn’t have letdowns on defense as much as we did before. That was the biggest difference.”
Philadelphia’s 29.8 percent shooting was its worst ever at Wells Fargo Center and it was the lowest mark the Pistons have forged defensively since April 2008 against Washington.
No stats proved the Pistons’ all-around team effort from baseline to baseline better than their 57-38 edge in rebounding – all the more remarkable in light of their 30th place standing in league rebounding coming into the game – and their phenomenal assist ratio, 27 on 35 baskets.
In addition to Monroe’s double-double, the Pistons got big games from Brandon Knight (15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists), who led the offense with great pace; Tayshaun Prince (15 points, five rebounds, six assists), who thrived as teammates around him proved themselves threats; and Jason Maxiell (eight points, 12 boards, three blocks, three assists), who was at his workhorse best.
But the name to put on the marquee belonged to Kyle Singler, who stood in for Rodney Stuckey – out with flu-like symptoms – and delivered in his first career start. Singler took a nasty hip check from Kwame Brown at mid-court early in the game, somehow managing to get the ball ahead to Prince for a layup, but he remained down until the game was stopped after Philly’s Jason Richardson – Singler’s man – hit a 3-pointer.
“I got hit pretty hard,” he said. “Not even quite sure who I ran into, but I kind of snapped my neck and kind of lost it a little bit. I was trying to get up, but I couldn’t.”
But he did, eventually, and his first-half scoring was instrumental in the Pistons taking their 52-34 lead. Singler scored 13 of his 16 in the first half, including a few baskets in transition – his non-stop motor on full display – and a few clutch jump shots with the shot clock winding down.
“Bucket Man played well,” Monroe said, using the nickname bestowed on Singler. “He’s going to come out, play with a lot of energy. He’s going to get easy buckets, play off other people, make open shots. He did his job tonight and he’s been doing it every night. He’s been one of the most consistent players on the team, so everything he did tonight wasn’t a surprise to me.”
“He did an awesome job,” said fellow Duke alum Corey Maggette, who made his debut after missing the first eight games with a calf strain and scored nine points, including a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter that pushed the lead to 22 and sent a grumbling crowd scurrying for the exits. “I’m so proud of him. We knew what Kyle was capable of doing coming off the bench, how well he was playing, and it just carried over. It was great for him to come in and fill Rodney’s shoes and it was a great team effort.”
Singler also gave the Pistons four rebounds and a blocked shot, but more than anything it’s his knack for making the right play and his movement without the ball that seems to enliven the offense.
“I got some pretty good looks, a couple of layups in transition to get me going, and felt fine out there. Pretty happy with the way I played. More importantly, I was happy that our team won. We played really well and it was on the defensive end that was the key factor.”
“Our guys were really locked in and focused,” Frank said. “Look at the rebounding battle, our ability to contest shots, getting the extra possessions. All in all, it was a very solid effort.”