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Detroit Pistons embarrassed themselves tonight

The Pistons aren’t a good team right now. We can debate all we want how much better they’ll be when fully healthy. But, for now, they’re nothing special.

Still, they have no business losing like they did to the Charlotte Bobcats tonight, 88-76.

  • The Pistons trailed by double digits for the final 33 minutes and 52 seconds.
  • They missed five free throws in a row at one point and finished just 12-of-21 from the line.
  • They rarely closed out on outside shooters, allowing Charlotte (26th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage entering the game ) to make 9-of-18 3-pointers. And before the Bobcats also stopped trying in the final five minutes, they rebounded half their 3-point misses.

This game wasn’t a fluke loss. Detroit was off yesterday, and the Bobcats are 11-16.

I’ve seen enough of the NBA to strongly suspect something is wrong.

Here’s my guess, and I admit this is pretty blind: the Pistons have heard so much about their injury problems, the team has developed a defeatist attitude. They repeatedly hear it’s OK they’re losing, and now they believe it.

Even if that’s not it, something is wrong. I think the odds are everyone in that locker room knows what it is. Regardless of what it is, they have to deal with it.

Pistons coach John Kuester has gotten a lot of credit for the job he’s done thus far – and deservedly so. One of his biggest strengths has been getting the team to play hard every game.

But he didn’t tonight. And he needs to do something about. Usually, the onus would be on a player. The NBA is a players’ league, and players fix (and create) most problems.

But Richard Hamilton is the team’s most respected leader. And he’s out with injury, so the message wouldn’t work from him. And Chucky Atkins probably isn’t a good enough player to inspire everyone, either.

But the Pistons are in a rare situation where the head coach is very important. Besides the injured trio of Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Gordon, Detroit doesn’t have a lot of veterans who are more important than the coach.

The younger players the Pistons are depending on now still probably look up to and respect their coach.

Kuester has done a good job so far. But this team is at a crossroads, and the first-year coach needs to continue to push the right buttons. If he doesn’t, the Pistons could be sunk in the playoff race before they get healthy.

On the bright side

Chris Wilcox was the lone bright spot for Detroit tonight. He had eight points (4-of-4 from the field), five rebounds, two steals and block in 16 minutes. Heck, I even look at his two fouls and and two turnovers as semi-positive because they show how he was active and around the ball.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Kuester sticks Wilcox in the rotation, maybe even ahead of Jason Maxiell in the starting lineup, to send a message. I’m not sure if the best move, but it’s a move.

And Kuester has to do something.

7 Comments

  • Dec 22, 20099:32 pm
    by toasterhands

    Reply

    It’s as if the mini 3 game road trip that left them winless just deflated them plain and simple.

    Gotta start putting a better stating lineup out there soon, even with all of the injuries.  Wallace and Max in the front court… that’s disgusting.

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Detroit Locksmith, PistonPowered Feed. PistonPowered Feed said: Detroit Pistons embarassed themselves tonight: The Pistons aren’t a good team right now. We can debate all we wan… http://bit.ly/6ttknu [...]

  • Dec 23, 20099:34 am
    by t-bone

    Reply

    I think the pistons are just tired from being in 5 different cities in 8 days.  Missed free throws and not closing on shooters is a clear indication of exhaustion.  I think they will get back on track with a light schedule over the next two weeks.

    • Dec 25, 20091:00 am
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Back-to-backs, five cities in eights day, on and on. Sometimes, the schedule is a fair excuse. We’re making it one too often.

  • [...] being ‘Cat nipped last night by Charlotte the Pistons get another chance at ending their losing streak -which now stands at 5 [...]

  • Dec 24, 20091:08 am
    by Jubilee

    Reply

    lots of problems here. stuckey is a quality player, but as a point guard he is a borderline BUM. not the answer at the point, can’t run a team, makes bad decisions, doesn’t make anyone better. joe dumars may have a crush on him and continue to see some elusive potential, but the guy is not getting it done. he’d surely fetch an impact frontcourt piece if we traded him to a team that needs a SHOOTING guard. i predict it’s borderline suicide not to do so.
    another problem: we have been overcommitting to stopping dribble penetration, and we’ve been paying for it consistently giving up open threes. we’ve been doing this all season. it must be a problem with our defensive scheme. we don’t need four guys IN THE PAINT every time someone penetrates. not even getting CLOSE to getting a hand up on those threes. how many times do you have to pay for overcommitting to protecting the paint before you start giving a shred of attention to the three point line??
    and yes this starting lineup hasn’t made sense since the atlanta game. i liked it that time. hated it against chicago and haven’t liked it since. even when we were rattling off five wins in a row, we were having a VERY hard time initiating any offense with that starting unit, and it was our loaded bench getting us back into games. with an able-bodied bynum there’s no reason not to start him alongside stuckey. attack, set an offensive tone, what am i missing here? how many slow starts does kuester need to see and stick with this lineup? maxiell isn’t a starter in this league and never should be. and bringing villanueva off the bench is a “cute” idea if you’ve got a respectable starter in front of him (read: jerebko, not maxiell), but the last two games were already lost by the time he took the floor in the second half.
    doesn’t take much digging to see what’s wrong with this team.

    • Dec 25, 20091:10 am
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      On Stuckey: He’s still only 23. I’m not thrilled with where he is. But he’s shown enough flashes and has enough athleticism that I’ve far from given up on him. To me, he’s tradable. To Dumars, I doubt he is. Can you give a specific trade ida for a front-court player?

      On defensive strategy: I mostly agree. I think the Pistons are over-emphasizing protecting the paint at the expense of defending the 3-pointer. But I think there’s an effort and recognition factor, too. Players have still been slow to close to the perimeter at times.

      On the starting lineup: I don’t think it’s the problem.

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