Pistons fire Maurice Cheeks

February 9th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Maurice Cheeks was fired just 50 games into his first season as Pistons head coach (Photo courtesy of Kim Klement/USA Today)

Maurice Cheeks was fired just 50 games into his first season as Pistons head coach (Photo courtesy of Kim Klement/USA Today)

The Detroit Pistons fired first-year head coach Maurice Cheeks on Sunday morning 50 games into his tenure with the organization. The Pistons are 21-29 on the season, and have won back-to-back games – including a 126-109 victory against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

“This was a difficult decision for the organization to make but we needed to make a change,” said President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars. “We have great respect for Maurice and appreciate his hard work.”

With prized free agent acquisitions Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, rising stars Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe and key reserves Rodney Stuckey, Kyle Singler and Will Bynum, the Pistons figured to have one of the more talented rosters in a historically weak Eastern Conference. As of Sunday, Detroit stood a half-game out of playoff contention behind the eighth-place Charlotte Bobcats.

“Our record does not reflect our talent and we simply need a change,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores. “We have not made the kind of progress that we should have over the first half of the season. This is a young team and we knew there would be growing pains, but we can be patient only as long as there is progress. The responsibility does not fall squarely on any one individual, but right now this change is a necessary step toward turning this thing around. I still have a lot of hope for this season and I expect our players to step up. I respect and appreciate Maurice Cheeks and thank him for his efforts; we just require a different approach.”

Detroit now seeks its ninth head coach in Dumars’ 14-year tenure as President of Basketball Operations. Multiple sources report assistant coach John Loyer will be named interim coach before Detroit’s home game Monday against San Antonio. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting former Memphis Grizzlies’ coach Lionel Hollins has also emerged as a potential candidate for the job. Hollins interviewed with the Pistons last summer to join Cheeks’ staff as an assistant.

Pistons dominate short-handed Sixers, 113-96

February 1st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Brandon Jennings drives to the basket against Philadelphia's Spencer Hawes in the second quarter of Saturday's game. The Pistons defeated the 76ers, 113-96 at the Palace of Auburn Hills (Photo courtesy of Allen Einstein/Detroit Pistons)

Brandon Jennings drives to the basket against Philadelphia’s Spencer Hawes in the second quarter of Saturday’s game. The Pistons defeated the 76ers, 113-96 at the Palace of Auburn Hills (Photo courtesy of Allen Einstein/Detroit Pistons)

Auburn Hills, MI – Andre Drummond scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Detroit Pistons defeated the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday at the Palace of Auburn Hills, 113-96.

Greg Monroe scored 21 points for Detroit and added 12 rebounds, and Kyle Singler had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Brandon Jennings also had 20 points, and the Pistons led by as much as 28 points in the fourth quarter.

“I think we’re still attacking, instead of trying to keep the lead and playing conservatively,” Pistons’ reserve guard Will Bynum said. “I think we were attacking in the fourth quarter until we pretty much got the win.”

Tony Wroten led the Sixers with 18 points and five assists. Elliot Williams and Evan Turner added 15 points each and Thaddeus Young had five steals to go with 14 points.

Philadelphia was without star rookie Michael Carter-Williams, who leads the Sixers with season averages of 17.3 points and 6.6 assists. Carter-Williams has sat out 12 games this season due to injury, this time with a sore right shoulder.

“We decided to give him some time off and he needed it,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said.

Saturday was the first time the Pistons had three players with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds (Drummond, Monroe and Singler) since Dec. 3, 1997.

Detroit (19-27), riding a two-game winning streak, travels to Miami on Monday and Orlando on Wednesday. Philadelphia (15-34) plays at Brooklyn on Monday and returns home against Boston on Wednesday.

Pistons Pregame: Detroit tries for third consecutive win over visiting 76ers

February 1st, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

After defeating the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, Rodney Stuckey and the Detroit Pistons welcome the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday (Photo courtesy of Allen Einstein/ Detroit Pistons)

After defeating the Orlando Magic on Tuesday, Rodney Stuckey and the Detroit Pistons welcome the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday (Photo courtesy of Allen Einstein/ Detroit Pistons)

Auburn Hills, MI – After beating Orlando on Tuesday, the Detroit Pistons spent some unexpected time away from the court on Wednesday when the team’s game at Atlanta was postponed due to weather.

On Saturday, Detroit (18-27) hosts the Philadelphia 76ers in search of its second consecutive win and only its fifth in the last 16 games. The Pistons are also looking for consecutive home wins for only the second time this season.

After starting the season 3-0, Philadelphia has fallen to 15-32, good for 12th place in the struggling Eastern Conference. Two of the Sixers’ 32 losses have come against the Detroit Pistons.

Philadelphia will be without rookie of the year candidate Michael Carter-Williams (17.6 ppg, 6.6 apg), who is ruled out for Saturday with a sore shoulder. Reserve guard James Anderson (10.0 ppg, 4.1 apg) will start in place of Carter-Williams.

Thaddeus Young (17.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Evan Turner (17.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Spencer Hawes (13.5 ppg, 8.6 apg) and Tony Wroten (12.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg) round out Philadelphia’s starting five.

Detroit will feature the same starting five for the 21st straight game: Josh Smith (15.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg), Brandon Jennings (16.5 ppg, 8.5 apg), Andre Drummond (12.8 ppg, 12.8 rpg), Greg Monroe (14.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (7.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg). Sixth man Rodney Stuckey (14.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg) and reserve forward Kyle Singler (8.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg) lead Detroit in minutes off the bench.

Tip-off is at 7:30 pm at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Follow all of the action on Twitter @MichiganReview

Jennings, Drummond lead Pistons over Magic, 103-87

January 28th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Brandon Jennings shoots over Orlando's Jameer Nelson in the second quarter of Tuesday's game at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons defeated the Magic, 103-86. (Photo courtesy of Allen Einstein/Detroit Pistons)

Brandon Jennings shoots over Orlando’s Jameer Nelson in the second quarter of Tuesday’s game at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons defeated the Magic, 103-86. (Photo courtesy of Allen Einstein/Detroit Pistons)

Riding a four-game losing streak, the Detroit Pistons got a much needed win at home on Tuesday, defeating the visiting Orlando Magic at the Palace of Auburn Hills, 103-87.

Brandon Jennings led the Pistons with 20 points and eight assists, and Andre Drummond scored 13 points to go with his team-high 17 rebounds. Josh Smith had 16 points and five Pistons finished in double-digit scoring totals for the game.

“We needed it a lot,” said reserve Pistons’ guard Will Bynum. “Just happy to get a win.”

Victor Oladipo led Orlando with 19 points off the bench, and Aaron Afflalo and Tobias Harris each added 14 points. Jameer Nelson scored 11 points to go with a team-high seven assists, and reserve forward Kyle O’Quinn grabbed 11 rebounds.

“We have to be tougher,” Nelson said. “Every guy on this team needs to take pride and ownership in their individual performance and the team’s performance. We didn’t do that tonight, not at all.”

After trailing 22-20 at the end of the first quarter, the Pistons opened the second quarter on a 14-8 run thanks to seven points by Bynum. Leading 34-30, Detroit never looked back – leading by as much as 26 in the second half.

“We’ve got a lot of talent on this team, and we just have to figure out the right chemistry of players, at the right times,” Bynum said.

Detroit (18-27) improves to 8-15 at home. The Pistons travel to Atlanta on Wednesday and host Philadelphia on Saturday. Orlando (12-34) falls to 3-20 on the road this season, and next plays at Toronto on Wednesday. The Magic return home Friday to host the Milwaukee Bucks.

Pistons Pregame: Drummond, Detroit look to rebound against visiting Magic

January 28th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Andre Drummond shoots over DeJuan Blair of the Dallas Mavericks in Sunday's 116-106 loss. Drummond contributed a season-low four points and six rebounds in the game. (Photo courtesy of Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images)

Andre Drummond shoots over DeJuan Blair of the Dallas Mavericks in Sunday’s 116-106 loss. Drummond contributed a season-low four points and six rebounds in the game. (Photo courtesy of Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images)

After a forgettable performance Sunday night in Dallas, Andre Drummond and the Detroit Pistons hope to snap a four-game losing streak on Tuesday, and host the Orlando Magic.

Drummond turned in a season-low four points in Sunday’s 116-106 loss to the Mavericks and had six rebounds. He averages 12.6 points and 12.6 rebounds on the season.

“He just had a bad game,” Pistons’ coach Maurice Cheeks said. “The guy’s 20 years old. We’re not going to expect him to be like a machine every night, to go get 18, 19 rebounds. He’s 20 years old. He didn’t have a good game.”

At 13-33 on the season, Orlando is the NBA’s worst road team. The Magic are 3-19 through 22 road games, and their .136 road winning percentage is the lowest in the league since the 2011 Charlotte Bobcats.

Former Piston Jason Maxiell will start for Orlando in place of rookie Victor Oladipo. Maxiell is averaging 3.5 points and 2.7 rebounds in his first season with the Magic. Oladipo has made a strong case for rookie of the year so far this season, averaging 13.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists

Glen Davis (12.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg), Tobias Harris (13.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg), Jameer Nelson (13.7 ppg, 6.7 apg) and Aaron Afflalo (20.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg) round out Orlando’s starting five. The Magic will be without starting center Nikola Vucevic for the 12th straight game due to a concussion suffered on Jan. 6.

Detroit will feature the same starting five for the 20th straight game: Josh Smith (15.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg), Brandon Jennings (16.4 ppg, 8.4 apg), Andre Drummond (12.6 ppg, 12.7 rpg), Greg Monroe (14.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (7.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg). Sixth man Rodney Stuckey (14.2 ppg, 2.2 rpg) and reserve forward Kyle Singler (8.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg) should also see extended minutes off the bench.

Tip-off is at 7:30 pm at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Follow all of the action on Twitter @MichiganReview

Clippers outrun Pistons in dunkfest, 112-103

January 20th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Blake Griffin and the Clippers outscored Greg Monroe and the Pistons in a 112-103 shootout Monday at the Palace of Auburn Hills (Photo Courtesy of Allen Einstein/Detroit Pistons)

Blake Griffin and the Clippers outscored Greg Monroe and the Pistons in a 112-103 shootout Monday at the Palace of Auburn Hills (Photo courtesy of Allen Einstein/Detroit Pistons)

Auburn Hills, MI – The Detroit Pistons continued with the theme of defensive struggles on their home court, losing to the visiting Los Angeles Clippers, 112-103 on Monday at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 29 points and Josh Smith added 24 to go with six assists and six rebounds. Andre Drummond had 15 points and a team-high 11 rebounds, but the Pistons received little help from their starting backcourt: Brandon Jennings finished 0-for-7 from the field and finished scoreless for only the second time in 330 career games, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had just six points.

Jamal Crawford led the Clippers with 26 points on an impressive 9-for-13 shooting from the field including 3-for-5 from 3-point range. The former Michigan Wolverine knocked down a 3-pointer with 55 seconds left to give Los Angeles a 110-98 lead and effectively put the dagger in Detroit. Blake Griffin scored 25 for Los Angeles and J.J. Redick added 20 points and six assists. DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and a game-high 21 rebounds.

Jordan dunked four times in just the first quarter. The Clippers shot 66 percent from the field in the first half and led 64-53 at halftime.

“That’s the way they play. They pound the ball inside, and they are always looking for the lob,” Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. “They don’t usually get as many of them as they did tonight, but that’s what they do.”

The Clippers shot 62.2 percent from the field and 42.9 percent from 3-point range for the game.

“We didn’t put up a resistance,” Smith said. “They had transition 3s, open looks at 3s and they were getting layups in transition and throwing lobs and we just let them have everything. I don’t know what happened.”

The Pistons fall to 17-24 on the season and 7-14 at home. The loss is Detroit’s eighth in the team’s last 10 home games. The Pistons travel to Milwaukee on Wednesday and return home to host New Orleans on Friday. Los Angeles, now 29-14, hosts Charlotte on Wednesday and travels to Chicago on Friday.

Pistons Pregame: Lob City comes to the Palace

January 20th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Andre Drummond and the Pistons have won three of four games heading into Monday's contest against the Los Angeles Clippers (Photo courtesy of Allen Einstein/Detroit Pistons)

Andre Drummond and the Pistons have won three of four games heading into Monday’s contest against the Los Angeles Clippers (Photo courtesy of Allen Einstein/Detroit Pistons)

After winning at Washington on Saturday, the Detroit Pistons are 3-1 in the team’s last four games.

On Monday, Detroit welcomes one of the Western Conference’s most complete teams. The Los Angeles Clippers are 28-14 in their first season under Doc Rivers, and have gone 5-2 in their last seven games despite the loss of All-NBA point guard Chris Paul.

In Paul’s place, reserve point guard Darren Collison has averaged 9.6 points per game and 2.8 assists per game in a starting role. Joining Collison in the Clippers’ starting lineup are J.J. Redick (16.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg), DeAndre Jordan (9.5 ppg, 13.5 rpg), Blake Griffin (22.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg) and Matt Barnes (7.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg), who’s replacing the struggling Jared Dudley at small forward.

Former Michigan Wolverines guards Jamal Crawford and Darius Morris both come off the Clippers’ bench. Crawford is averaging 17.1 points and 2.9 assists per game, while Morris is on his second 10-day contract with the organization after beginning the season with Philadelphia.

The Pistons have benefitted from the recent offensive explosion of free agent signee Josh Smith (15.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg), and a healthy sixth man in Rodney Stuckey (13.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg). Filling out the Pistons’ starting five are Brandon Jennings (16.4 ppg, 8.4 apg), Andre Drummond (12.6 ppg, 12.7 rpg), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (7.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg) and Greg Monroe (14.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg).

“We want to be able to come in and give as much energy as possible,” said Smith. “They have been winning as of late. We want to come in here and match their intensity.”

Tip-off is at 1:00 pm at the Palace of Auburn Hills – follow all of the action live on Twitter @MichiganReview

Crew opts for Defense in busy January

January 18th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Ben Sweat, one of two new Crew defenders, at last week's MLS Combine (Getty Images)

Ben Sweat, one of two new Crew defenders, at last week’s MLS Combine (Getty Images)

In two high-profile acquisitions over the past week, the Columbus Crew focused on defense and… defense.

With the 14th overall pick in Thursday’s MLB SuperDraft, the Crew selected left back Ben Sweat. The selection of Sweat comes just three days after acquiring U.S. international defender Michael Parkhurst.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter said earlier this week the team plans to use Tyson Wahl in a central defensive role instead of left back. Columbus also acquired Waylon Francis during the offseason – the expected starter.

Last year, Tyson Wahl and Agustin Viana split time at left back, but Berhalter said the Crew sees Wahl as more of a central defender. Columbus also added Costa Rican left back Waylon Francis this offseason, who is expected to be the starter.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Berhalter said he sees Sweat as a player three years away from starting, but later admitted he believes Sweat can contribute right away.

“We got an exciting player,” Berhalter said. “(Sweat) is a very dynamic player, likes to get up and down the wing. Good left foot, good crossing of the ball, good offensive skills.

Berhalter also said he was surprised that Sweat lasted until their 14th pick. The rookie will compete for the starting spot with  Viana and Francis, but will almost certainly have a reserve role this season.

Sweat played for the Crew Junior Super-20 team in 2011, and expressed excitement for the chance to finally play with the varsity squad.

“It’s exciting to finally start my career after trying to push for it for a couple of years,” he said on draft day. “I’m excited to go to a team I’m familiar with, a couple of guys that I know, that I’ve played against and played with. I’m really looking forward to getting up there.”

In the span of two weeks, the Crew has turned a weakness in its defensive unit into a potential strength. With the addition of Parkhurst and Sweat, Columbus is now both talented and deep on the back line.

The Crew decided not to draft either Pedro Ribeiro or forward Schillo Tshuma, both higher-ranked prospects who most experts had going earlier in the draft.

He later acknowledged the team understood the need for such players, but preferred Sweat to bolster the defensive unit. The Crew will likely focus on both midfield and forward before heading to camp.

U.S. Men’s Soccer falls to Sao Paulo FC in closed-door scrimmage

January 17th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Mix Diskerud of the United States Men's Soccer team slides against a member of Sao Paulo FC on Thursday in a closed-door scrimmage. The U.S. lost 2-1, and will scrimmage Sao Paulo FC again on Monday (Photo Courtesy of Instagram - ussoccer)

Mix Diskerud of the United States Men’s Soccer team slides against a member of Sao Paulo FC on Thursday in a closed-door scrimmage. The U.S. lost 2-1, and will scrimmage Sao Paulo FC again on Monday (Photo Courtesy of Instagram – ussoccer)

The US national team fell 2-1 in its first closed-door scrimmage with São Paulo FC in Brazil on Thursday, according to reports by U.S. Soccer and MLSsoccer.com.

The United States’ lone goal came from Chris Wondolowski, the 2012 MLS MVP and member of the San Jose Earthquakes.  Brazilian national team veteran Luís Fabiano scored goals for São Paulo.

Reporters were not allowed in the scrimmage, but MLSsoccer.com reported that 24 of the 26 players took the field Thursday and different lineups were used in each half.

The second scrimmage between the sides is scheduled for Jan. 20.

“We are excited about getting down to São Paulo and continuing the work,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said before the team departed for Brazil. “This is a huge opportunity to get to know our environment for the World Cup.”

Burke, Jazz blast Pistons, 110-89

January 17th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Trey Burke returned to the state of Michigan on Friday for the first time since officially turning pro on June 27. And the former Michigan Wolverine reminded the 18,528 fans in attendance why he swept all of the NCAA National Player of the Year awards last season.

After a competitive 27-25 first quarter at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Burke and the Jazz blew out the home team Pistons en route to a 110-89 final score.

After going scoreless in the first quarter, Burke finished with 20 points and 12 assists to lead the Jazz. Enes Kanter scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench, and Marvin Williams added 17 points and seven rebounds. Derrick Favors had eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds.

“It felt good to get the win,” said Burke. “We had a lot of fun out there tonight as a team. We came out and matched their intensity every quarter and we never let up.

Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons with 21 points and also grabbed six rebounds. Andre Drummond had 10 points and 13 rebounds, and Brandon Jennings finished with 11 points and six assists. After scoring 25 and 22 points in his previous two outings, Josh Smith had only four points for Detroit on 1-of-6 shooting.

Playing their first game since Jan. 11, the Pistons left their home floor to a chorus of boos from the few fans that remained.

“It’s unexplainable to me,” said Pistons head coach Maurice Cheeks on the team’s lack of energy. “Maybe the days off had to do with it.”

“We just didn’t come out to compete,” added Stuckey. “That’s pretty much it. We were flat offensively and defensively we need to figure it out.”

The Pistons travel to Washington on Saturday and return home to face the L.A. Clippers on Monday.  Utah plays back-to-back games against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday and Tuesday – first at Minnesota, then at home.