On the Pistons: Detroit Bad Boys / Piston Powered / Need4Sheed
The Bucks will be hoping to put their 0-3 Western trip behind them when they return to the Bradley Center to face the Pistons. Andrew Bogut is expected to start (thanks Speedy) while Rodney Stuckey (shoulder contusion) was listed as questionable.
Pistons update. Detroit snapped a four game losing streak against the Nets last night, with rookie Greg Monroe putting up a career-high 20 points (10/14 fg) in addition to 11 boards and two blocks against Brook Lopez and #2 pick Derrick Favors. Tayshaun Prince added 22 and is averaging a career-high 17.5 pts/40 minutes, just off matching his career-high in PER (16.07). In the backcourt, Rodney Stuckey missed his fourth straight game, leaving Tracy McGrady (who's actually playing major minutes right now) and Ben Gordon to split playmaking duties. Stuckey's generally been able to use his size to back down and shoot over Brandon Jennings with ease, so I doubt Brandon will be shedding any tears if Stuckey is out again.
Charlie V returns. Charlie Villanueva has been coming off the bench for the past month and has been slowed of late by a sprained ankle. He's played just 25 minutes in the past two games combined, scoring three points on 1/7 fg.
JS: Bucks' guarded optimism
Jennings and John Salmons aren't firing on all cylinders right now, but at least they're not on the bench in suits. It's a start?
"I'm trying to get some sort of continuity with the starting lineup, knowing that John is going to go back in there if he can get some minutes in some games and really feel good about himself," Skiles said. "So, hopefully, we're getting close to having a set lineup out there. That would be nice."
I'm a little concerned that this is Skiles' way of preparing us for Salmons' immediate return to the starting lineup, a move that would hardly seem justified given Salmons' anonymous performances in Phoenix and Golden State (not to mention most of the season before that). While we spent the preseason debating whether Corey Maggette or Carlos Delfino should be the starting SF, at the moment I'm content to have both guys starting while Salmons once again tries to get his game together.
No word yet on whether Jennings will again be on a minutes restriction tonight (UPDATE: Skiles says 30 minutes), though I'd guess there will still be some limit from the training staff after he had a 21 minute cap against Golden State. That was actually less than the 24 minutes he was allowed the previous night in Phoenix, but I'll assume/hope that was mostly because it was the second night of a back-to-back.
Maggette starts to figure things out. Back at the end of December, Dan made the case for starting Corey Maggette in spite of his struggles up to that point. Most of you agreed (58%), and Maggette's 12-game run as the team's starting small forward since early January have more than justified Skiles' decision to finally give his 6th man a shot at a starting spot. Maggette has averaged 19.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, and 2.3 apg on .500/.360/.859 shooting in 32 mpg as a starter, including a 21-point peformance against the Warriors where he carried the Bucks offensively down the stretch.
With his teammates struggling to even get shots off, Maggette isolated time and again, doing much of his damage by simply rising above his opponent for pull-up jumpers (7/9 long twos). His and-one in the final minute was actually his only attempt of the game at the rim, but since his first start he's been ultra-efficient around the bucket, converting 24 of 33 (72.7%) attempts around the cup. That's raised his at rim conversion rate to a fairly healthy 59%, though still below the 65-66% rate he's had the past couple season.
Temple gets another 10 days. Garrett Temple hasn't exactly set the world on fire since getting called up from the D-League at the end of January--2.5 pts/game while shooting 33% from both the field and three point range in 12 mpg--but it's not like the Bucks were expecting their 15th man to turn their season around. Temple played in the fourth quarter of his very first game, the comeback win over the Hawks, and he hasn't looked terribly out of place when he's been on the court (how's that for a backhanded compliment?). Overall, he works hard defensively (even if he's a bit foul prone), can mark multiple positions, and is a good passer as well, so he does the little things to help offset his lack of overall skill.
I'm not sure how much of a role he'll have with Jennings and Salmons back in the fold, but there's little risk or cost in bringing him back for a second 10-day deal. The bigger question is whether the Bucks will see enough to sign him for the rest of the season--teams can only sign a player to two 10-day contracts before having to bite the bullet for the remainder of the year.
Detroit Free Press: Big Ben says Hamilton benching a 'slap in the face'
Awkward times in Detroit, where Richard Hamilton has gone from all-star to sixth man to outcast. Hamilton hasn't played since first being benched by John Kuester on January 12, and there appears little chance of a reconciliation between the Pistons coach and their one-time leading scorer. It'd be bad enough if the Pistons were just paying Hamilton $12.5 million not to play, but the Pistons' veterans don't seem particularly amused either. Big Ben, talk to us:
"I’m pretty sure I know. I’ve been around a lot. I know the situation. I know what went down and what was said and how it was said. But ever after that I never thought it would get to this point. You’re going to deactivate a guy that’s already not playing. An All-Star, a guy that did so much to help this organization get to the top when we were winning. And know we’re not as good as we were. I think it’s a slap in the face. That’s the final punch thrown. What are you going to do now? Of course he’s not going to play if you call and ask him to play. It’s personal. Nah he not going to play. You're going to have to trade him now. You're going to have to move him."
Charlie Bell arrested. Some disappointing news out of the Bay Area.