Twice falling to the New York Knicks in blowout fashion earlier this year, the Pistons were looking to change the tone of the season series on Monday night as the newly acquired Jose Calderon made his Detroit debut at point guard. Unfortunately, the new lineup didn't lead to a new result and the Pistons fell victim to the same three-point attack that had drummed the Pistons in the first two meetings with the Knicks this season. The Knicks were 14-34 from the long line, and the Pistons were never in the game with the Knicks leading by as many as 25 points in the first half. The New York Knicks beat the Pistons 99-85.
The only positive takeaway for the Pistons was the play of Jose Calderon, so we'll start there. Right from the start Calderon was looking to get his new Pistons teammates going. The first two offensive possessions of the game saw Calderon with a dish to Maxiell, then a pass to Monroe. Both passes set up Maxiell and Monroe for high-percentage opportunities, but both ended in misses. The misses would continue as Calderon didn't record a single assist until the third quarter. Still, Calderon played a smart game and ended the night as the Pistons leading scorer with 15 points on 7-12 shooting, three assists and zero turnovers.
Besides the anticipation around Calderon's debut, there was excitement over Brandon Knight's new role as the Pistons starting shooting guard. Playing alongside Calderon, Knight looked uncertain in his movements and displayed good amount of standing and watching in his first outing with Calderon. Spending most of his night floating around the arch, Knight was 2-10 on the night with six of his shots coming from behind the long line. Knight had only five points on the night and did not have a single free throw attempt. There was hope that Knight's scoring would flourish with Calderon handling the distributing duties, but the debut of the new backcourt didn't look good.
Calderon will end up being a better point guard option for the Pistons, and Knight will figure out what he needs to do while playing off the ball. The biggest concern from the post-trade lineup was hole the Pistons now have at the small forward spot. Singler started at the three, but when Jason Maxiell left the game in foul trouble Lawrence Frank opted to go with a three-guard lineup. Stuckey played the three and Singler moved to the four. Even Jerebko was used to play the three a bit. The results were telling of a team that now needs to address the three spot. (Stuckey did have 14 points on the night, but few came while playing small forward, and six points came in garbage time)
The Knicks exposed and outplayed the Pistons at nearly every position, but Monday night's match-up showed that the Pistons don't have a small forward option off the bench. Singler only posted five points, but he is capable of filling the scoring void that trading Tayshaun Prince leaves. It sounds ridiculous, but the Pistons may have a problem filling the scoring void that trading Austin Daye leaves with the second unit.
With Tayshaun Prince gone and Jose Calderon recording his first Pistons minutes, the new era of Detroit basketball is officially underway. Monday night was a rough start, but the sample size is too small to condemn the lineup shuffle. The Pistons will make adjustments and the starters will learn to play off of Calderon. When that happens, Pistons fans will truly see the non-salary-cap benefits of the Tayshaun Prince trade. The Pistons will get another chance with Calderon on Wednesday night as the Brooklyn Nets travel to the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons take on the Nets at 7:30 pm on Wednesday night.
Tags: Basketball, Brandon Knight, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, Jason Maxiell, Jose Calderon, NBA, Rodney Stuckey
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