After a slow start, Kyle Singler finding his 3-point stroke for Pistons
It was that confidence Cheeks showed in Singler that enabled Singler to regain the confidence in his shot. And it paid generous dividends for the Pistons in Tuesday’s rousing win at Miami with Singler knocking down four triples – a career best – to lead the Pistons with 18 points in their 107-97 decision.
“It’s great to see that Coach still has confidence in what I do bring to the game,” Singler said. “I’ve always seen myself not just as a shooter. I’ve always wanted to bring different things to the game, whether it be a solid defender or rebounder, just a solid all-around player, and I think Coach sees that and it’s great to see that all-around confidence.”
Singler told me all of that after Tuesday’s shootaround, when he also said he’d passed up shots he’d normally take and was fighting to prevent his subpar shooting – Singler entered the Miami game shooting .408 overall and .235 from the 3-point line – from seeping into other areas of his game.
“It does affect me a little bit, because I want to perform as well as I can out there,” he said. “You can’t let it trickle down and affect your game that much. It’s going to affect it a little bit – it’s just the nature of the beast – but you’ve got to stay mentally strong out there and know it’s going to come around.”
Singler had given hints that he was emerging from his shooting funk, hitting 4 of 9 threes, but they were spread out over six games, an indication that he perhaps was hesitant to pull the trigger. But he stroked them confidently against Miami, hitting four of his first five attempts before missing the last when he had to launch a challenged shot with the shot clock about to blow.
“I was able to get in a rhythm early and I had some open shots and I knocked ’em down,” he said after the game, grinning that our conversation about his shooting woes had taken a dramatic turn just a few hours later.
The Pistons have managed to cobble together a playoff-caliber offense in spite of tepid 3-point shooting, but they also have given recent indications of a more potent perimeter game. They knocked down their first six triples in Sunday’s win over Philadelphia and hit 7 of 16 against Miami. For the first time in a long while, the Pistons are no longer 30th in the NBA from the 3-point arc, jumping over Charlotte into 29th place.
“It does open it up for our inside game,” Singler said. “That is our strength, so we’re not going to go away from it. But to knock down some threes opens up the whole game for different players and it’s good to see guys shoot the ball well.”
“It takes a lot of pressure off when you have guys making shots from the outside,” Cheeks said. “You have to pay attention to them. And then it makes the inside game a little bit easier. They can play a little bit more one on one. Kyle hit several threes and it opened up Greg (Monroe) inside for a few more easy baskets. Any time you’re making shots from the outside, it makes the game a little easier for the inside guys.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, like Singler, has turned his shooting around of late, hitting 11 of 22 overall in his last three games and attempting just 12 3-pointers over the last five. And the Pistons hope Chauncey Billups, out since Nov. 15 with left knee tendinitis but able to do more in workouts recently, can also return soon to give the perimeter another threat. Cheeks can also turn to shooters like Charlie Villanueva or Gigi Datome, but Singler’s shooting will be critical because he does so much to endear himself to Cheeks in other areas that it’s nearly certain he’ll remain one of the staples off the bench.
“He’s one of those guys we need to help us spread the floor,” Monroe said. “When he’s hot, it just opens it up for everybody else.”