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The Pistons build the most hollow 15-point lead in NBA history, lose to Atlanta

Imagine this scenario: flipping on Monday’s Pistons-Hawks game early in the second quarter, seeing the Pistons up 39-24.

“Wow. They must be playing great. Maybe I should check the boxscore to see how they’re doing it.”

They were doing it, you would find out, by allowing Atlanta to shoot nearly 70 percent in the first half and making an inordinate number of 3-pointers to offset the Hawks making a large number of 2-pointers. As you could predict from there, it wouldn’t last. The Pistons are actually not that bad a 3-point shooting team, fourth in the league at 38 percent. But early on, they hit their first six threes and were over 80 percent for most of the first half. It’s rare that those numbers can hold up, and once they stopped hitting at such a high clip, the Hawks quickly took control by pounding it inside to Josh Smith and Al Horford, two players the Pistons never hold in check (and tonight was no exception: 37 points, 16-for-25 shooting and 18 rebounds between the two of them). When Detroit tried to give help inside, Atlanta’s bigs found Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson.

It turns out, those two shoot the ball pretty well when defenders only half-heartedly try and close out on them.

The Pistons played two of their worst quarters of the season in the second and third. The second quarter featured porous defense. Atlanta shot over 60 percent in the quarter because they took almost no contested shots. Defenders didn’t close out on jump shooters. Post players established position anywhere they wanted. Shots went in.

In the third quarter, it was the offense that failed. Pistons starters shot 38 percent for the game. In the third quarter, they rarely worked for better shots. The few good shots they got, they missed at the rim.

But remember when I said those were two of the worst quarters the Pistons played this season? I think the fourth quarter doesn’t need that qualifier: that was some of the worst basketball I’ve ever watched.

The Pistons managed just 11 points in the fourth. John Kuester went away from his starters, who played sluggish all night, too late, and the bench, which gave a bit of energy in the first half and has been reliable over the last few games, wasn’t up to the task. Will Bynum and Ben Gordon shot a combined 4-for-14. Charlie Villanueva shot well earlier in the game, but missed two wide open threes in the fourth. Bynum played at his customary 100 MPH in the fourth while everyone else seemed to be going about 45. Gordon looks completely out of sync, passing up shots he should take and taking shots he should pass up. Villanueva has essentially become a spot-up shooter at this point, which would be fine if he weren’t 7-feet tall.

Even if it was slightly uglier than most, at the end of the day the Pistons had another disjointed, passionless effort in a season full of disjointed, passionless efforts. The Pistons have now lost three straight games on a homestand that was tabbed as a make or break stretch for their playoff hopes. It’s their fourth straight home loss overall.

A few teams that aren’t good are going to make the playoffs in the East, it’s inevitable. But it’s increasingly evident the Pistons are not going to be one of those teams.


  • Feb 14, 201111:23 pm
    by Stephen


    Been an interesting rotation recently.
    The starters get the 1Q,back half of 2Q and the 3Q,and the kids get the 4Q.

  • Feb 14, 201111:37 pm
    by jason


    Ben Gordon is, i’m convinced, actively sabotaging this team.  There is no way in Hades that a man whose played the game of basketball as long as he has would consider what he’s doing on the court to be satisfactory behavior.  Either he wants to be traded, wants Q out, or desperately wants to improve the teams chances of receiving the first pick in the draft, the last of which seems least likely.  Ben Gordon is not a Detroit Piston at heart, he is a handsome, athletic man earning ten million dollars annually to shoot erratically at the basket whenever it fancies him most.  I thought Charlie V., Mr. Lethargy himself, was the piston player who I could least stomach watching.  Wrong.  The evidence is in and the verdict stands – Ben Gordon – you Trojan Horse gifted to Detroit from our foes to the West – you were lead up into the Palace as a thing of guile, and now you are the man who sacks Detroit.

    • Feb 14, 201111:47 pm
      by bg8


      im all for gordon sabotaging this team, they need a kick in the butt to get the coach fired. gordon had a good 7min in the first half, and then stunk it up in the second because he was disrespected by his coach.

    • Feb 15, 201110:56 pm
      by Laser



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  • Feb 15, 20111:16 am
    by jgk281


    Ironic article because I had the game on, but wasnt really paying attention, and then looked up and the score was 39-24, lol. I couldnt believe they were up 15, and just figured ah they got this game in the bag, no sense watching now, and went back to what I was doing.

    About an hour later I looked at the final score and THEY lost by 15!


    • Feb 15, 20119:03 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      When they built that lead, I assumed they had to be playing good defense on one of Atlanta’s big three — Johnson, Smith or Horford. Nope. They were all shooting above 70 percent at that time. There was just no way it would last.

    • Feb 15, 201111:03 pm
      by Laser


      if you looked up, saw an early 15 point piston lead and figured the game was “in the bag,” nothing you have to say about this team could possibly be of any interest to anyone.
      i mean, have you been paying a shred of attention lately? have you ever heard of the atlanta hawks? by nobody’s standards are we a better team than they are on any level. you’re pretty active on this blog’s comments section. i’m so confused right now. this is really upsetting.

  • Feb 15, 20115:59 am
    by Mr Happy Mushroom


    No way that the word p—offs should still be here. I officially stopped thinking about it or looking at the standings after that awful, awful game at New Jersey a few weeks ago.  That was amidst a “surge” (you know, playing 500 ball), and they played like the worst team in the NBA that night.

    • Feb 15, 20118:59 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      Agree 100 percent. But for some reason, the coaching staff and reporters covering the team keep talking about them as if it’s a realistic goal.

      • Feb 15, 201111:26 pm
        by Laser


        making the playoffs isn’t just beyond any realistic expectations at this point (though if the team hadn’t spent so damn much time with daye or max starting at the four and three shooting guards in the rotation, it may have been downright probable); it’s not a productive goal. so the organization sells tickets to exactly two home playoff games exactly and collects revenues from exactly four televised games, and the players endure the mixed bag experience that is an embarrassing, purely academic first round bloodbath. what does this accomplish?
        even if dumars thinks he could fool the world (and perhaps himself) into thinking the team’s improving since they’re technically a playoff team again, not only does the team cost itself a chance to improve by collecting whatever assets some well-timed trades would bring, they’re (somehow) virtually guaranteed to take a step backwards because whomever you bring in through the draft and free agency isn’t likely to replace prince’s production. prince is probably our best player and has (somehow) emerged as our go-to scorer when we’re running out of shot clock. does anyone honestly think we’re going to add a player in the offseason who will be arguably the best on the team?? or even in the conversation at all?
        and that’s just prince. t-mac could have comparable trade value, and there’s no guarantee about what he does in the offseason. does he even come back? if he does, it probably has more to do with arnie kander than anything… and if that’s the case, he’d probably come back regardless of if he was traded at the deadline. not that i’d necessarily assume he’d go play somewhere else so that the pistons team he returned to next season would be that much better (because that’s not necessarily a fair expectation), but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. there are probably many teams who would trade a considerable potential building block for the immediate help t-mac would provide.
        there’s also the ongoing problem of having major commitments to three shooting guards, but prince and t-mac are the expiring contracts. this season is already a total loss (that’s three in a row for those of you counting at home), and i don’t know that there’s any advantage to moving a shooting guard now. that can wait until the summer, but it can’t wait any longer than that.
        and as for the added revenue of making the playoffs, i swear to god the team’s got to be able to recoup that within the first month of next season if they’re able to improve the team’s future outlook. it’s not an accident that nobody wants to watch this team play, and this city will support a young, improving team. but apparently not one that’s going absolutely nowhere.

    • Feb 15, 20117:38 pm
      by detroitpcb


      you are so right. this team will never make the playoofs as currently constructed.

      hey patrick. How about an artilce on (your) possible trade options for the Pistons?

      because if we don’t trade Prince out of some foolish hope of making the playoffs……………..

  • [...] points on 2/7 shooting. The Pistons did lead 39-24 early in the second, but as Pistons Powered Blog points out, they were bound to come back to earth soon enough. It’s been a tough week in Detroit, as the [...]

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