Basketball is more than crossovers and slam dunks.
If Monday's loss still has you down, at least you can take solace in the fact that the Pistons' blazing start has garnered them well-deserved national attention. In today's USA Today, David Dupree heaps high praise on Richard Hamilton's shooting ability:
Shooting may have become the lost art of basketball lately, but Richard Hamilton is turning back the clock. His no frills, picture-perfect jump shot make the 6-7 shooting guard of the Detroit Pistons statistically, at least, the best shooter in the NBA. When it comes to putting the ball in the basket — from anywhere on the floor — Hamilton stands alone.
"Basketball is more than crossovers and slam dunks," Hamilton said. "It's shooting. It's fundamentals. It's not complicated."
Going into Monday's games, Hamilton, 18th in the league in scoring with a 21.8 average, is the only player shooting at least 50% (51.2) from the field, 40% (52.0) from three-point range and 80% (87.3) from the free throw line.
Two players accomplished the feat last season —Steve Nash of Phoenix and Jason Terry of Dallas.
Hamilton's total shooting percentage (field goal percentage plus three-point percentage plus free throw percentage) of 190.5 is tops in the league among all players who are averaging at least 10 points a game and have made at least 10 three-point shots. Nash is a distant second at 181.6.
Hamilton is perhaps the best in the league at moving without the basketball and coming off screens. He has a quick release, the patience to not force shots and is so disciplined that his form very seldom breaks down.
I'll be honest, I've never even heard of total shooting percentage before reading this article, but it's an interesting concept and shows just how efficient and versatile Hamilton really is. Just out of curiosity, I took a look at Chauncey Billups' stats — his total shooting percentage is 176.5. I have no idea how grouped together players are at the top of this new-fangled statistic, but considering there's a nine-point difference between first and second place, I have to imagine Billups isn't too far behind.
Sharpshooter Hamilton has best aim in league [USA Today]
Ben Wallace is scuffling a bit right now, and he's knows it:
"I'm totally frustrated with my game," said Wallace, after scoring 13 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, dishing five assists and blocking two shots Sunday against the Clippers. "I'm just not really happy with what I'm bringing to the table right now."
Not happy seemed to morph into downright angry after Monday night's loss. Wallace had four points and six rebounds and said after the game he isn't sure what his role is.
"I'm just out there running around," Wallace said. "…I'm sick of this (bleep)."
Asked if he wants more touches, Wallace said he didn't have any more comment.
Wallace averages through 17 games — nine points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks — are down a bit. Last year, when Wallace was an All-Star and the defensive player of the year, he finished with slightly higher numbers — 9.7 points, 12.2 boards, and 2.4 blocks. And his free throw shooting is still far below average at .500.
But for him, that number's a career best.
If Wallace is unsure of his role in coach Flip Saunders' offense, there's one area that should never be in doubt — rebounding.
But Wallace has averaged just 8.6 rebounds in the last six games.
Ben is in a tough spot, but it's not just him. Rasheed Wallace's rebounds are down from 8.2 to 6.6, and of the starters, only Tayshaun Prince has actually increased his rebounding this year. Obviously that has nothing to do with his changing role in the offense, but we're only talking about a one-point differential after 18 games, and for what it's worth, his shooting percentage has actually ticked up from 45.3% to 48.2%.
"There were games this year that we won where I felt (crappy) after the game," Rasheed Wallace said. "I know I played horrible, I know I didn't help the team out. But I mean, you gotta look at the end part that we got the win. So I kind of sort of know what Ben's going through."
PISTONS CORNER: Ben expects better play from himself [Detroit Free Press]
We harped on Antonio McDyess' shooting troubles earlier in the year, but to his credit he's turned things around. He shot just 37% from the field in November, but after going 5-of-7 in Monday's game, he's now shooting 60.7% from the floor in December.
His overall mark (43.6%) is still below his career levels (49.3%), but progress is progress. And his 7.4 ppg for December is still below last year's 9.6 ppg, but he's also playing three fewer minutes a game as the Pistons now have a legitimate eight-man rotation. In any case, McDyess is officially off the hook for his slow start in my book.
Yes, the Pistons were playing the bad half of a back-to-back series, and yes, it was their third road game in four days. But no, that had nothing to do with why the Pistons lost to the Jazz last night. Absolutely nothing.
So what happened? After building up a solid lead at halftime, the Pistons just came out flat for the rest of the game.
"I think it started with me," said Prince, who finished with 10 points and three turnovers. "I missed a couple of free throws (in the third quarter) and then everybody else started missing. I think I started the trend.
"Then, once they got involved, they started getting the calls and we started getting into it with the refs and then it was pretty much over."
The Pistons, who have played 12 of their 18 games on the road, refused to use the schedule as an excuse.
"They just wanted it more than us," said a frustrated Ben Wallace, who finished with just six rebounds.
Said Prince: "(The schedule) didn't have nothing to do with it. We had a solid first half.
"We were up 13 and I told the guys we should have been up a lot more. We let them hang around and you know how they play and how their crowd gets into it."
Prince also blamed himself for the Pistons' rebounding woes.
"Coach told us they were the best offensive rebounding team in the league," he said. "I guess we didn't listen. We rely on Ben and Rasheed to get most of the rebounds. That's my fault, for one, and Chauncey and Rip know they have to do a better job of helping out."
It's awfully big of Prince to come out and take the blame, but not completely accurate. Ben Wallace was right on: the Jazz really did want this game more. They played with more energy and kept their focus on the game and not the refs.
All griping about "we-shoulda-won!" aside, the Jazz are a very dangerous team. I don't care that they're 9-12, any team coached by Jerry Sloan will play with energy and a lot of discipline. Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur are extremely tough to matchup against. Granted, the Pistons can matchup with anyone, but Detroit wasn't on their game, and if you give these guys an inch they'll take a mile.
All things considered, Detroit has played the fewest home games (6) in the NBA yet still has the best overall record (15-3). Had we known this at the start of the season, no one would have complained. This is the NBA, and over 82 games, every team is going to lose games it should have won and every team is going to lose games it was never in — there's absolutely no way around that fact. And if the Pistons keep up their recent history and lose one game for every six they win, they'll be in pretty good shape.
Pistons' streak ends at 6 wins [Detroit News]
Rasheed on Mike Dunleavy's hack-a-Ben strategy, which backfired on Sunday night:
Rasheed Wallace, who had his differences with Dunleavy when he played for him in Portland, didn't mince his words.
"No, I was not surprised (he did that) at all," said Wallace. "That dumb (bleep)."
Wallace and Dunleavy cussed at each other in the final seconds, with Wallace getting a technical foul
"That's bull," said Wallace. "We were cussing each other out. But that's OK. I know I am PE (public enemy) No. 1. I couldn't care less."
Oh, how I long for a PG-13 newspaper. That bleep could have been one of several colorful words, and knowing exactly which one
is somehow important to me. Why can't they at least print "f—", or "a–", or "s—"?
On a sidenote, I grew up reading Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn quotes that were just laced with bleeps, and being the naive kid that I was, it took one of my less innocent friends to point out that "bleep" actually stood for "a dirty word." Once I mastered that little fact, my reading comprehension shot through the roof.
Strategy doesn't work, Pistons top Clippers [Detroit News]
Man, I could get used to this, praising something that I honestly like and magically receiving presents in return. Hey, uh, I'm moving from a cramped apartment to a spacious house in a few weeks, a nice 42-inch plasma TV would sure come in handy. Samsung, are you listening?
The Clippers are certainly an up-and-coming team in the Western Conference, but they're absolutely no match for the Pistons. And that's not just me talking. Clippers caoch Mike Dunleavy basically admitted as much himself by resorting to a chickenshit hack-a-Ben strategy with almost half of the final quarter left to be played.
That's right, trailing by seven with 5:56 left on the clock, the Clippers revealed their lack of confidence in their defense by putting Ben Wallace on the free throw line just about every time the Pistons had the ball. They chased him around the court when he didn't even have the ball, wrapping him up just to stop the clock and put his 55% free-throw shoowing to the test. As a result, Big Ben shot 16 free throws in the final six minutes. He made three of them. The strategy worked, right?
Wrong — it simply sparked a proud team to rally around an inspired player. Wallace may have missed 13 free throws in five mintues, but in that span he also snagged two rebounds (including one offensive), created a turnover with a steal, dished out two assists that led to five points and scored his final two points of the game on a dunk to put the Pistons up by 12 with 98 seconds on the clock. That's a five-point swing in favor of the Pistons from when Dunleavy first handed out the little skirts and asked his team to play like sissies.
The Clippers got some points back once the Pistons pulled their starters with less than a minute left, including a bonus free throw when Rasheed Wallace was called for a tech after jawing with Dunleavy as he was leaving the court. Unfortunately Rasheed's exact words weren't caught on tape, but I'm guessing he was probably pointing out that having a lack of cojones must run in the Dunleavy family.
After the game, Rasheed was a little more collected:
"There were about five minutes left and they were down by eight points," Rasheed Wallace said. "I could see maybe trying something like that if it was a two-point or a three-point game. But why do it when you're eight points down?"
In any event, Carlos and Carlos played well, Dale Davis made an appearance, and Flip Saunders was inexplicably restrained by security from speaking to the officials during a timeout in the third quarter. If that last part confuses you, I don't know what to say. It was just as confusing to see the highlight when the game came back from commercial. When Flip was asked about it during his post-game press conference, he didn't really know what was up, either. I'm curious to see if any of the newspaper beat writers pursue an explanation.
I'm a day late with this, but it's awfully interesting:
The feeling-out calls from Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo are starting to trickle in to potential Olympians' voicemails, and one Piston has received the message.
Shooting guard Richard Hamilton needs to return a call to Colangelo, who has begun working on the roster for the 2008 Olympic Games and the 2006 World Championships. ESPN.com reported that Tayshaun Prince also received a call, but he said Friday that he hasn't.
If it came, he'd take it, and as for Hamilton, he is certainly interested in being considered for the team, despite a lengthy commitment.
"Any opportunity to play for your country is exciting," Hamilton said. "You really can't ask for anything better than that, to represent a whole country."
The time commitment — three years of play, including substantial portions of the NBA off-season — doesn't bother Hamilton.
"Not one bit," he said.
Team USA should have been focusing on guys like Hamilton and Prince all along — unselfish players that don't always need the ball in their hands to be effective. More on this if/when it becomes official.
PISTONS CORNER: Hamilton ready to serve country [Detroit Free Press]
Remember when I talked about how much fun Rasheed Wallace had against the Bulls last week? Well, in case you missed the game, Natalie over at Need 4 Sheed pieced together a highlight video showing just what I was talking about. My favorite: Rasheed calling glass against Andres Nocioni at the 1:40 mark.
This is at least the second time I've mentioned Need 4 Sheed in this space, and I seriously recommend all Pistons fans head over to check it out. They have a lot of excellent Pistons desktop wallpapers and even a sweet screensaver. And despite what the name suggests, it's not just Rasheed stuff. I'm usually the type of guy that sticks with the same wallpaper for six months at a time, but this site has changed my mind.
Everyone was hyping this guy before this game, but as I predicted, it was Jason Richardson (36 points, six boards) that the Pistons had to watch out for.
Yeah, Davis had 14 points and 14 assists, but the dude turned the ball over all night long. He was officially credited with just two turnovers, but the dude shot just 5-of-18 from the field and 0-for-5 from three-point land, needlessly ending possessions early with ill-advised shots. I don't understand how anyone can gloss over his poor shooting and claim this guy is MVP material — all those missed shots early is what creates close contests late.
Mike Dunleavy is a sieve, plain and simple. He had his nice little offensive spurt in the second half when he was nailing back-to-back threes, but the Pistons attacked him on defense all night long and he just took it on the chin like he was on the casting couch. Why this team gave him $44 million, I have no idea, but after seeing him in action yet again I was suddenly reminded why that Tayshaun Prince insisted on getting than him when he negotiated his extension.
Aside from that, my only other Golden State observation is that Derek Fisher continues to be a very underrated player. This guy could still start for more than a handful of teams in this league. He shot just 3-10 from the field but finished with 15 points off 9-10 shooting from the charity stripe. Just a heady player.
I was actually surprised to see Rasheed Wallace finished with just 22 points and eight boards. He must have just hit them all at the right time, because it seemed like he hit big shot after big shot tonight. Plus, it was good to see him stay close to the lowpost where he's most effective instead of drifting out to the three-point line so much like he was for a while late last month.
Head over to the box score for the rest of the details. All in all, it was a good close game that came down to the final seconds — just what fans were waiting for after five full days between games.
Blogging the hardest working team in the NBA. Created and maintained by Matt Watson, a freelance writer with completely fair and unbiased opinions on 29 of the Association's 30 teams. Send feedback and tips to matt (a) detroitbadboys.com.