Alright, Pistons lost against one of the Wester Conference's top teams. Boo fricking hoo, we should have expected it especially considering that we played Utah. Did you see the starting fives when we beat them in Utah the last time? Crazy world ...
Anyway, the teams flaws have been covered on several sites, blogs, etc.. We can talk about the lack of Ben Gordon in crunchtime. I just want to say this, Rip in his prime without Billups and Gordon in his prime, who would I rather have on the floor with two minutes left, Go!!! Gordon, hands down.
I want to talk about something different though, which made me so mad last night. Tim-outs are really precious especially in the last two minutes of a close game. The coach can tell his players how he intends to end the game, they can discuss it, talk it over, get some rest and look at the nicest plays of the game on video hanging from the rafters. Sounds great! So why did John Kuester treat them like a little kid treats candy on helloween??? We took our last time-out with 50 seconds left and down three. What's even more astonishing, look at the usage:
Third to last: Pistons come out, Tayshaun Prince gets the ball, Kuester takes 20 because he apparently does not like what he sees.
Second to last: McGrady gets the ball and holds it for a second, while Tayshaun sets a screen for Hamilton. Hamilton receives the ball on the left wing.
Tay posts up against AK47, a great defender and one of the few ones who match up very well with Prince, and receives the ball. He then goes to work and hits a nice, although contested, jump-hook for the tie.
Then Utah goes on and Raja Bell hits the three which really was not a three-pointer. Now it gets interesting.
Last time-out: Remember, we have 50 seconds to go in the game and we just used our last time-out. So you would expect a fancy play. No, John Kuester apparently is a fan of The Big Lebowski's Walter with his utterance "A plan should not be too difficult otherwise you screw up! The plan is easy, that's the beauty of it!"
So the Pistons use their last TO to set up the exact same play. AK47 realizes it immediately and denies the entry pass to Prince. Prince goes up and sets a screen for a pick'n'pop play and ends up with a heavily contested three-point shot. Daye does a great job of getting the rebound and chaos reigns until McGrady finally gets the ball and sets up Monroe's dunk.
I would consider McGrady, Prince and Hamilton veterans in this league. I would assume they can run the exact same play twice in a row without throwing the ball away. Do you need a time-out for that? Do you need to use two time-outs within five seconds with 1:20min left in the game? I would say no!
So when Bell hits both of his free-throws with 17 seconds left, the Pistons are out of time-outs and have to go up against a set defense. Instead of drawing up a play and subbing in, uhm, our best three point shooter, McGrady has to take a one-on-one three-pointer which is a miss.
I do not want to be too harsh with my criticism, but those are the things that seperate great, mediocre and bad coaches. We could have had two time-outs in the last 50 seconds instead we did not have any, and no real shot at getting a great look from the outside. That was just frustrating to me, especially going up against "Mad Kobe" tomorrow night!