Monday, March 23, 2009

Curry Robs Pistons Of A Last Shot Vs. Heat

I'm beginning to think that Michael Curry was smarter and was a better coach when he was a player.

Curry lost, for the Pistons, yesterday's nationally-televised game against the Miami Heat at The Palace. At the very least, he robbed the Pistons of a chance to win it. Practically the same thing.

Curry first lost his cool, then his head, and because of all that losing it, the Pistons, well, lost.

The Heat were down most of the game, but that's not a concern anymore when you play the Pistons in Auburn Hills. It once used to be a frightening place to play for visiting teams. Now, it's more scary for the Pistons, truth be told.

So the Heat spotted the Pistons a dozen or so points, stayed within four-to-eight points for most of the second half, then, as if sensing that they could snatch the game at will, decided to nudge even closer in the fourth quarter. Finally, tired of playing catch-up, the Heat tied the game and eventually took the lead in the waning minutes.

Curry lost the game, for good, at the very end -- more about that in a moment -- but he didn't do his team any favors down the stretch, when he used peculiar defensive assignments against Dwyane Wade and didn't crack the whip when the Pistons went into statue mode offensively.

All that, and the Pistons still held a 96-95 lead with 13 seconds to play, thanks to a Walter Herrmann three-pointer.

Then the Pistons couldn't corral a bobbled inbounds pass, and after some pinball action, the basketball landed in the hands of Udonis Haslem, who coaxed a soft eight-footer into the hoop for a 97-96 Heat lead.

Curry, when he was a player, wasn't much of a scorer. His reputation was that of lockdown defender and an analytical mind on the court. Those two traits, plus his work ethic, made him a basketball observer darling. Often during his two stints as a Piston, we heard of how Michael Curry was good "coaching material" because of his being like the cliched "coach on the floor."

Well, Curry acted like a player at the end of Sunday's game -- a frustrated, out-of-control player. Not at all like the cool, calm, collected coach he is supposed to be in crunch time.

Curry had issues throughout the fourth quarter with the way Wade was viewed through the officials' eyes. Get in line, coach!

So Curry is upset that Wade is getting to the foul line on some suspects calls -- his version -- and wonders why the same courtesy isn't being extended on the other end. Again, not unlike what goes on every night in every game that players like Wade and LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, etc. participate in.

The Pistons' talented young point guard Rodney Stuckey drove the lane in the final few seconds, and Wade was right there with him, contesting everything. Stuckey tried a shot, and Wade not only slapped it away, he managed to grab possession of the ball while staying a fraction of an inch inbounds. He passed to a teammate, who was fouled. There was about a second left on the clock.

Curry couldn't contain himself. He railed at the officials so much, he was given two technicals and therefore ejected from the game. He left the court, and the Pistons' chances went with him.

Because of Curry's temper tantrum, the Heat were able to toss in four free throws -- two for the techs and two for the foul.

The two extra free throws due to Curry's technical fouls were killer. Had the Pistons been down, 99-96, they'd at least have a fighting chance for a game-tying triple. Instead, the Heat led 101-96. End of game.

No one said it would be easy for Curry, a rookie head coach with just one year of assistant coaching experience under his belt. No one could have foreseen the trade of Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson, nor the myriad of injuries to Pistons players who normally don't miss a lot of playing time.

Curry is not all to blame for what's gone wrong in this haywire, 34-35 Pistons season.

But he hasn't really done a lot to stem the tide, either. Yesterday's brain freeze, preceded by some "meh" coaching in the fourth quarter, was another example.

The ABC announcers were incredulous after Curry got himself thrown out.

"All you have to do is wait 0.6 seconds to complain!" screamed Jeff Van Gundy, himself a former coach.

But Curry couldn't wait. His rookie status reared its head at a most inopportune time.

Funny, but Michael Curry, the player, probably wouldn't have done that. What is it about putting on the Armani suits that's making him dumb?

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