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Monday, October 19, 2009

Pistons' defense struggles

AUBURN HILLS — It appears the Pistons forgot to pack their defense on their first road trip of the preseason last week. Detroit allowed Dallas and Memphis to shoot a combined 54.2 percent (84-for-155) in two lopsided losses.

“We got exposed in Dallas and in Memphis,” Pistons coach John Kuester said. “That’s why they call it preseason, it’s making sure that we continually try to make ourselves better in so many areas.”

The Pistons were playing Dallas tough until the Mavericks went on a late run in the second quarter and then outscored the Pistons 36-23 in the third quarter on their way to a 113-88 victory.

The Grizzlies came out of the gate firing and used a 33-14 first quarter lead to cruise to a 115-94 win.

One area the Pistons struggled in both games was transition defense. The Pistons gave up 20 fast-break points to the Mavericks and 25 to the Grizzlies.

“Poor offense lead to bad defense,” Ben Wallace said. “I’m just trying to teach a little bit. Let the guys know that if we make a commitment to the defensive end the game is going to be fun. If we go out there and play hard on defense, we’ll get good looks on the offensive end. We’ll get everybody involved and we’ll have some fun.

"If we’re not playing well on defense the games not going to be fun. We’re going to have guys going out there and trying to force shots, trying to get us back. It’ll take the fun out of the game. We just go to be solid on defense and everybody work together.”

Detroit’s defense looked good to start the preseason as the Pistons started off 3-0, but has struggled in the last three games, all losses. In Detroit’s three wins it held its opponents to a combined 39.9 percent shooting. In contrast, the Pistons opponents have shot a combined 51.7 percent during the current three-game skid.

Tayshaun Prince has missed the last two games with a cut under his right big toe and Wallace sat out the Dallas game, but Kuester refused to use that as excuse.

“Our team is a no excuse team,” Kuester said. “We don’t make excuses. I really do believe that whoever I put in (the) game is going to get it done. I expect it. That’s where it’s on me to make sure we’re a better team defensively and also in transition.”

Villanueva makes debut
Forward Charlie Villanueva made his Pistons’ debut in the loss at Memphis after missing the first five preseason games with a hamstring injury. Villanueva had 12 points, five rebounds and five fouls in just over 20 minutes of action.

“I thought he looked good,” Kuester said. “From a defensive standpoint, he did some good things. I thought he felt comfortable with the basketball. It was nice to have him out there.”

Rotation decisions coming
The Pistons play their final two preseason games this week, starting with a home game against Minnesota on Thursday and a road game at Milwaukee on Friday. Kuester said his staff is discussing a rotation for the regular season more this week than they have so far in the preseason, but aren’t setting anything in stone.

“There are going to be some tough decisions. There is no question,” Kuester said. “One of the things that you have to realize is, this is a long season. Guys that might not play one night, will play the next night. … That’s the beauty of this team. We’ve got to play more focused than we played in the last two road games.”

Summers struggling
Many expected rookie DaJuan Summers to be the most NBA ready of the three Pistons draft picks this past summer, but Summers has struggled to get much playing time in the preseason.

In the last three games Summers has not played in two (Memphis and Washington) and the game he did play in, at Dallas, he was 0-for-5 from the field in 19 minutes. Kuester downplayed Summers’ struggles and said Summers has shown flashes in practice.

“DaJuan is learning as he goes,” Kuester said. “I tell you this, he has a bright, bright future in this league because he’ll continue to work hard and he’s a great kid. Do not read into that at all.”


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