The Come Up: Pistons, Spurs and Jazz

Monday means “The Come Up” -- which is a pretty good thing considering last night was The Come Down. The Mavs got rolled by the Lakeshow to the tune of 131-96, but it seemed way worse. Than a 35-point beatdown. Seriously. Four of their next five are at home before a long five-game East Coast trip. It all gets started with a struggling Detroit Pistons team at the AAC on Tuesday night.

And it go a ‘lil summin’ like this:

At least Villanueva is a salty Tweeter …

The Pistons have lost nine in a row. That’s bad. Their last five losses have come against sub-.500 East teams -- three of those coming at home. That’s really bad.

They’ve had a lot to deal with -- a new coach (John Kuester), several key offseason acquisitions to work in (Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Ben Wallace) and a lot of injuries to key guys. They’ve just recently been able to put Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton and Gordon back on the floor after extended bouts with some hurt.

The result is they don’t score much at 91.5 a night and they let their opponents hit almost 47 percent of their shots against them. I think they’ll eventually be able to score at a higher clip, but I don’t know that’ll translate to being more than a middle-of-the-road team in the East.

I do like Rodney Stuckey, but not as a point. And I can’t help but think he and Gordon are a bad fit together. I could easily be off base there. It does seem like Stuckey could be related to the GZA, however. I dunno, maybe off base there too.

Speaking of off base, I can’t help but think of this Wayne Winston rant on True Hoop (some of the most over-the-top basketball analysis I’ve ever read) whenever I think of the Pistons signing Gordon:

My prediction is that the Bulls are going to stink this year. Ben Gordon and Brad Miller were their best players. They let Ben Gordon go to the team they need to beat for the playoffs? Why'd they do that? Letting him go is just beyond stupid. It's ridiculous. And who'd they pick up to replace him? Jannero Pargo?

I find this hilarious on so many levels, I can only summarize it with -- this is what you get when you turn to math professors for basketball commentary. He predicted that a mediocre .500 team in the East would stink this year after losing their leading scorer. Now that’s bold. But let’s move on to his more acerbic take -- that letting Gordon go is “beyond stupid” and “ridiculous.”

It should be noted that the 6-foot-3 2-guard that the Bulls decided not to pay $10 million a year has a career playoff shooting percentage of 40 percent to go with his almost 1-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, is a sub-par defender and had led the Bulls to exactly one playoff series win in his five years there.

Gordon is a talented scorer, a gunner who can single-handedly keep you in a game. I’ve also seen him shoot his team out of games with possessions in which he’s the only guy that touches the ball -- several trips in a row. I’m not a big fan of that type of basketball, so I must be beyond stupid and ridiculous to not be on board with throwing away $10 million a year when you need so much other help. Especially if it hasn’t translated to big winning in the NBA yet and when probably every GM in the league would much rather have D-Rose dominate the ball at half the salary.

When this season is said and done, I’d be surprised if the Bulls and Pistons are more than a few wins apart from one another in the standings. But Chicago will have, at minimum, $10 million in salary-cap room this summer, probably more once the final numbers come in. Money they wouldn’t have had if they’d chosen to pay Gordon instead and be that same .500 team in the East.

What a bunch of idiots, right Wayne?

Friday Night Lights on the Riverwalk

The Spurs started the month of December with three straight losses and were sitting at 9-7 and having to answer all the “what’s wrong” questions. A month later, they’re won 11 of their last 14 as they’ve closed the Sothwestern gap down to two games behind Dallas.

Those who are still apprehensive about San Antonio will note that the Spurs have been feasting on weaker teams during that stretch and that they’re two toughest games, Phoenix and Portland, resulted in L’s. But The Spurs are deep -- nobody on their team is averaging 32 minutes a night -- and they're versatile and have no trouble scoring and rebounding.

It starts with Tim Duncan, who is still giving you 20 and 10 a night. They outrebound their opponents by 4.5 a night and hit 39 percent of their treys and 48.6 percent from the field on their way to 102 whenever they tip it up.

But you know the drill with the Spurs. They are the Mavs' biggest rival, and these games always seem to matter more than any other each year. They’ve split the season series at one each with both teams protecting their home floor.

Always fun ...

And this is how you put a team on your back…

The Jazz season to date has been one long steady ho-hum. They’re 18-15, but only 6-10 on the road. They’ll roll into town Saturday night after having visited the currently unbeatable Memphis Grizz the night before. The interesting thing about their record is that they haven’t had any prolonged streaks one way or the other with two different three-game winning streaks being their longest stretches of note.

But seeing as it’s Mavs/Jazz -- this is the only thing you’re really thinking about, isn’t it?

What more can I say, top billin' ...