Game Thread: Pistons rolling in the post-Smith era

Josh Smith, Paul Millsap
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Josh Smith, Paul Millsap

Josh Smith (right) is guarded by Paul Millsap in a game earlier this season. The Pistons released Smith and have won all seven games since the roster move. (Associated Press)

 

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said to look deeper at the Pistons than just the release of Josh Smith for their seven-game win streak.

The Pistons have not lost since parting ways with the Smith, the former Hawk. He since signed with the Rockets. In the meantime, the Pistons are rolling.

“Offensively, they add Jodie Meeks at the same time and maybe that is not appreciated as much,” Budenholzer said of the Norcross High product. “He is a heck of a shooter. And they you start playing (Jonas) Jerebko and (Anthony) Tolliver more. I think they have a little more shooting, a little more spacing. It puts the whole group in a little more of a comfort zone. I think coach (Stan) Van Gundy is one of the best coaches in our league. It kind of puts him in more of a comfort zone because the stuff he did in Orlando because there are similarities. All the details fit together really well.”

That doesn’t mean that the Pistons’ big men of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe won’t be a handful for the Hawks.

“The balance is better,” Budenholzer said. “Their big guys, it’s harder to worry about them because there is more space, more shooting. You kind of have to pick your poison.”

In other news:

* Mike Muscala’s contract is now guaranteed for the rest of the season. The deadline to waive the reserve center passed on Jan. 7. That Hawks now have all 15 players with guaranteed contracts.

* Al Horford will have to talk to Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll about balancing a basketball season and the birth of a child. Korver and Carroll both missed a game last season for a family addition. Horford and his wife, Amelia, are expecting the couple’s first child in March.

* They have a new slogan in Detroit – thanks to Van Gundy. Cheerleaders wore shirts Friday night that read: “The wall versus everybody.”

The reference comes from Van Gundy during a timeout against the Spurs on Tuesday. With the Pistons holding a 105-104 lead, the Spurs had the ball with a tenth of a second remaining. Van Gundy’s defensive instruction: “Just form a (expletive) wall.” The Pistons won, the sixth of their current seven-game streak. Friday’s game with the Hawks was the first at home for the Pistons since Van Gundy’s words of wisdom.

“It’s a little weird,” Van Gundy said of the attention. “At the end of a game with one-tenth to go there was not a lot that could happen. It was one of the most inconsequential timeouts of the year. It’s strange to me. It really is. There are a lot of timeouts where you have a lot you are trying to accomplish and some strategic things. That one was pretty easy and yet it has become a pretty big deal.”


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