Detroit Leans on Allen Iverson's Defense
After letting Dallas put 112 points on the board Friday night, now might be an odd time to mention how Detroit has improved its defense. But it's true: despite their most recent performance, the Pistons rank fourth in points allowed (93.1 per game) and sixth in field-goal percentage allowed (44.6%).
Points allowed can be a deceiving metric (just like they have the last several years, the Pistons play at one of the slowest paces in the league) but just a month ago the team ranked in the bottom third of the league in field-goal percentage allowed, so it's clear the team as a whole has made a marked improvement -- and perhaps none more so than Allen Iverson.
"I think it's night and day since he first got here," Michael Curry said before Friday's game. "Defensively he's taking the challenge. He knows that we expect him to give maximum effort on defense. We don't want him worrying about his fouls. You go out there and play hard defensively."
Iverson arrived with a reputation for slacking on defense, but in the half season since arriving from Denver, Detroit's coaching staff has been able to break him out of some bad habits.
"Defensively he's done the things we've asked," Curry said. "And so he's done well in pick and rolls, he's starting to fight the post. Before I think he just stayed behind and welcomed double teams, but we don't like to double unless we just have to.
"So we like him to fight the post and do a good job. I thought the other night when Rasual Butler posted him he began to fight him and [New Orleans] kind of went away from it. He had a post up with Rudy Gay the other night and took an offensive foul and [Memphis] completely went away from trying to post him."
Curry's comments came about 90 minutes the Mavericks began their rout over the Pistons, but to Iverson's credit, it wasn't Dallas' backcourt that killed Detroit: his man, Antoine Wright, finished with just six points, while Jason Terry, who averages 20.1 a game off the bench, finished with just 14.
Iverson didn't do his team any favors on offense (he shot 3-for-9 and finished with 11 points), but then again, neither did any of his teammates. Scoring comes easily for Iverson on most nights, but if he continues to carry his own weight on defense, the Pistons just might find that all elusive consistency.