Nerd of Batman, sports, logic, objectivity, Star Trek, personal enlightenment, Lincoln, the Rays, psychology, mic dropping. Kind've in that order.
Top 10 reasons the Pistons beat the Knicks last night.
1. Rodney Stuckey had his best game in a long time. No Bynum or Billups, likely allowed Stuckey to comfortably settle into the game knowing exactly the minutes he'd get. That may be the key to sharper consistency from Stuckey. He needs an absolutely defined role. 6th man, on a unit where he's fluid and interchangeable with the other guard in the backcourt.
2. Josh Smith stayed close to him and it frustrated Carmelo all night. Nothing was easy for Anthony. It wasn't what I'd call sensational defense, but perhaps Melo, expecting to score 50 on the worst defensive team in the league, got frustrated early and never got further involved in the contest.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
3. Probably because he was sick, but Brandon Jennings did the opposite of what Dumars told him to do last week. It's idiotic to tell a wayward gunner to shoot more. Jennings took just 3 shots (7 assists, 1 TO) and not coincidentally, the Pistons won. The talent around Jennings & Smith isn't good enough to overcome inefficient games from both of them on the same night.
4. The Knicks probably peaked as a good basketball team last year. Leave, Carmelo.
5. The Knicks stink to the sewers of New York without Tyson Chandler. It would've been fun to watch Drummond bang with a guy I compared him to 10 or 11 months ago.
6. Drummond is staying in his zone, which, again, is the restricted area of the restricted area. Drummond's missed 14 shots in his last 7 games. Andre, if you look down and don't see the half circle creating the restricted area, DON'T SHOOT.
7. The Knicks really missed point guard Raymond Felton. Running offense would've been more convenient if he wasn't out with a hip injury.
8. Anthony needed shots in the second half, so that took the ball away from Bargnani who was destroying Greg Monroe. A lot of that happened while Drummond was on the bench with two early fouls.
9. Drummond, athletically gifted as he is, still has frequent mental lapses defensively. He gets confused on who to guard, and when. Those occasions were limited in the second half.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
10. KCP took more 3s (7) than anyone on the Pistons, and sunk 3 of them. That's an outlandish - for Detroit - 43%! Mo, I implore you, keep playing him, and excluding a 5 game window of 22% shooting, keep him in there. He was drafted to shoot, don't bench him for missing.
Extra credit - Josh, you can be a really swift passer, so don't hesitate to try playing point forward every now and then. I think I trust your ability to distrubute more than Brandon's.
I didn't give much thought to how the Pistons would function defensively after their procurements of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Neither player, aside from Smith's skill of weakside shot blocker, was ever known for their defensive attributes.
Most of the concern about Smith was that he was going to have to play the 3 and that's way too much size in the front court to function in today's NBA, where many teams often prefer a small ball lineup.
That spacing issue has appeared at times, but it hasn't been iceberg of the Pistons' true struggles. Those have come defensively.
For the dozenth time, teams can easily avoid the Pistons interior size and strength by shooting over it. Which they've done very successfully.
Let's sift through some grizzly numbers.
The Pistons allow the most points per 100 possessions in the NBA at 106.9. For context, Indiana leads at 90.6. Here.
Pistons opponents lead the league in effective FG percentage at 54%. Indiana at the top again at 43.7%. Here.
Pistons opponents non-blocked 2 point FG% is 28th in the NBA at 57.1%. Chicago leads the way at 43.9%. Here.
The Pistons are letting opponents slice them up, as they allow 24.1 assists per game, that's 25th in the NBA. Here.
Their turnovers and opponent rebounds are turning into 14.9 fastbreak points per game. That's 24th in the league. Here.
Pistons opponents shooting 43.4% on shots from 15-19 feet (25th), 46.8% 20-24 feet (last) and they can't even protect the rim. They're allowing 64% on FG within five feet (27th).
It's ugly. Carmelo might score 50 tonight.
We were so enthralled with slamming Jim Schwartz's hideous decision to call for a fake field goal, we completely forgot to acknowledge that the difficulty of some games on the Lions remaining schedule went from Rookie to at least Normal, if we're grading on the Madden scale.
The skill level wasn't actually increased in one single day of games and performances, but over the course of the last few weeks. Things do suddenly change directions in the NFL quite often. And they could change again before the Lions encounter these impending challenges.
The good news is still that they've got any tiebreaker over Chicago with their two wins against the Bears. If the Lions beat Green Bay on Thanksgiving that'll be 1-1, but the Lions will move to 4-1 in the North, with only a game at Minnesota remaining in Week 17 that would prevent them from 5-1 in the North.
Now the bad news.
The Buccaneers, who visit as 9 point underdogs this Sunday, have won two and a half of their last three games. They took Seattle to OT 3 weeks ago on the road, they won the Distraction Bowl against Miami and they just hammered Atlanta. Tampa's backs keep dropping and no name heroes keep popping up to save the day for their run game, and rookie Mike Glennon has a 109 passer rating over the last year. Sunday won't be the walkover we expected several weeks ago.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
Almost from Week 1, I expected the trip to the Linc in Philly to be a loss, but the way the Nick Foles has played for Chip Kelly lately, the Lions defense - particularly the secondary - could be in for a humiliating afternoon. If they couldn't tackle Antonio Brown, good luck catching Desean Jackson and Lesean McCoy.
PHOTO CREDIT - GETTY IMAGES
And here come the Giants on their almost annual spurt through November + December, which almost always lands them winning their only game in February, and oh yeah, if they needed extra motivation that game will be played in their stadium. If the Giants handle their remaining schedule of Dal, @Wash, @SD, Sea, @Det, Wash and make the playoffs, then stay out of their way, and start thinking about Eli being up TWO Super Bowls on his brother. Could you imagine Eli vs. Peyton in the NY area Super Bowl. It would be like an entire entourage of Jerome Bettis's on one team being from Detroit. Prepare for incessant.
The Lions remaining schedule isn't unmanageable, and 12-4 wasn't going to happen anyway. Three of the final 6 games just became a bit more grueling, which isn't a bad thing if you're trying to define a winning identity that can help you advance through January.
And by the way, I'm not backtracking on my Ws and Ls.
Green Bay Win
@New York I'll flip here. Loss. EDIT - This is in Detroit. But the point remains, often the Giants are not to be toiled with in December.
10-6. 2-0 over the Bears, 1-1 vs. GB and 5-1 in the North. That SHOULD claim the 3rd seed in the NFC, and possibly create The Handshake Bowl at Ford Field during Wild Card weekend.
The Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since they were implicated then fined for Spygate in 2007. One of the three teams New England beat in those title games were the Carolina Panthers. Perhaps there was fine print in addition to the $750,000 dollars in penalities that stated 'the league has the right to punish as we see fit moving forward until Brady & Belichick are gone.'
No black helicopters, just a lousy, cowardly retraction of a thrown flag.
Here is the photo of the final play of the Pats-Panthers game. Tomorrow morning, it will be everywhere. https://t.co/t5rNeb2DHE— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) November 19, 2013
That could have been three penalties in my opinion, and possibly yours; DPI, holding or illegal contact.
If it was DPI, Carolina would've needed a goal line stand to prevent the Patriots from winning. That penalty would have moved the ball from the 18 to the 1.
Illegal contact would have moved the ball to the 13, and if I'm correct, holding would've moved the ball to the 8 yard line, and downs wouldn't have mattered since the clock had expired.
Just because the Panthers got the benefit of a poorly officiated final play, doesn't mean they still wouldn't have won that game anyway on the untimed down.
And even if they did lose, I would still state the following...
Because of the 27 Denver put up on KC, Carolina now leads the league in points allowed per game at 13.5. They're the number two defense in overall yards per game. Along with their stout defense, I have immense trust in the Panther running game - even after a quiet night for the backs - which can be guided by Cam Newton's legs if needed. The Panthers exhibit characteristics that travel well to any environment. With two games against the Saints looming, they can win the division, but I think the Panthers may be the only team in the NFC that visit Seattle or New Orleans in January and win on the road.
Which leads to my second notion, that the ascending Panthers remind me a lot of last year's Super Bowl participants.
The Steelers' Bumblebee jerseys proved too slippery for the Lions tacklers early on, Jim Schwartz made, IMO, the wrong decision to run a fake field goal, Reggie Bush's effectiveness was neutralized by the dreary Pittsburgh weather, Suh & Co. couldn't get a breath on the oft-sacked Ben Roethlisberger and the looming sense of uneasiness I have on the Lions as we depart Week 11 is that the Buccaneers and Mike Glennon are looking formidable these days.
The Lions host the win-streaking Bucs next week. It's not a MUST WIN, but it's a must win.
If we rewind the calendar two weeks to the Lions' bye, at 5-3, I expected and predicted them to be right where they are this second. 6-4. Time travel back with me, and you'd agree too, right?
Loss at Chicago. Win at Pittsburgh.
Of course you'd like to win all the games you can, but if the last two weeks were going to go one win and one loss for the Lions, you need to ignore negative narratives that could arise this week about Detroit in exchange for the enormous tiebreaker the Lions hold over the Bears.
There's also little chance Aaron Rodgers is 100% healthy on Thanksgiving. So calm down.
The Lions lost on a day where a home-domed team was impeded by weather and by a prideful team that probably its finest game of the year.
It's the NFL. It happens. If you'd like evidence, and if you believe Seattle and New Orleans are the very best teams in the league, or among them, examine their scuffles away from home.
- Regardless of its outcome, I believe the fake field goal was the wrong call. One of the balls Bush put down was punched out, but if the stormy weather cut in to his playing time, it was not a wise decision to expect a punter to cleanly execute that play from beginning to end.
Yea, I know, if they'd converted and scored 7 they likely would've sealed the victory. But if they'd converted a 27 yard field goal there's NO reasonable way they can lose the game on the ensuing drive with the score being 30-23.
- The Lions have harassed QBs all year, right? Yes. Curiously, they do only have 16 sacks. Perhaps I underrated Ansah's absence, and it sucks not having the depth from Jason Jones, Fairley's been inconsistent and Suh was in and out of the game against the Steelers. That Pittsburgh line had given up 4 sacks a game, and the Lions only got 1 and 1 QB hit. You didn't need me to tell you that, or a stat sheet to know Roethlisberger had plenty of pocket time all afternoon. So what's up!?
- Did the Steelers unearth two ways of searing the Lions defense? One, whatever they did to block for Ben. Two, I thought the secondary was going to enjoy a painless Sunday without having to stop a Gordon, Green, Marshall & Jeffrey, or Bryant. Antonio Brown's done a fine enough job replacing Mike Wallace, but he's none of the physical marvels the Lions have tried to defend over the last month or so. Is the new strategy against the Lions porous secondary going to be get it to the fleet receivers and let them dart past a not-so-nimble linebacking core and a dreadful back end? With Desean Jackson, Jordy Nelson, Torrey Smith and Victory Cruz looming...uh. Oh.
- Did the DeAndre Levy INT magic wear off? He dropped one, and early in the game a ball was in the air that screamed 'DEANDRE CATCH ME' and the ball fell harmlessly for an incomplete, not an INT.
- The Packers lost.
- The Giants won again. This has me thinking they're about to go on another 9-7 Super Bowl run.
- After I tweeted disagreement with the fake, I got this from Zac at Side Lion Report. I like Zac's stuff, but sometimes we can bang heads.
Schwartz essentially said the same thing. From Justin Rogers a mlive.com...
"Because we're trying to win the game," Schwartz said. "You could have said the same thing about the Redskins game. Why risk it? Why risk it? Every play is a risk. We're going to try to do our very best to win the game."
So what happened in the Washington game?
A QB sneak from a yard away is not nearly the risk of a rookie punter busting through the line on a sloppy wet day trying to gain five yards. There's no comparison here.