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Did John Kuester lose the Pistons when they blew a lead in their season-opener?

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News appeared on Sekou Smith’s Hang Time Podcast and, among other things, discussed how John Kuester lost the team (hat tip: Steve Kays):

When you start off 0-5, and to be honest, that’s where he lost this team, he lost this team when they started off 0-5. When you blow a seven-point lead in a minute and 41 seconds against the New Jersey Nets in the season opener. Sekou, when I tell you, the locker room was like a morgue after that game. I said to myself, “This might kill them for the rest of the season.” And they never got over that.

I’m not saying Goodwill is wrong. He’s talking about how the players perceived the loss, and they certainly could have become irreversibly upset with Kuester because of that and the next four games.

But Detroit’s loss to the Nets was not Kuester’s fault. As Patrick commented on my game review:

I don’t see how anyone could watch the game and think that coaching is the reason the Pistons lost. These are the reasons, as Feldman noted in his post:

- Missed 5-of-7 FTs down the stretch.

- Three guys stood and watched as Devin Harris dove on the floor to tip the ball to Morrow for the game-winning three.

Kuester didn’t make perfect coaching decisions all the time. But if the team made four of those free throws or maybe decided to go to the floor to pursue that loose ball (or maybe not collapse in the lane and leave one of the league’s best three-point shooters all alone for that matter), they win.


  • Apr 27, 20113:21 pm
    by Laser


    excuses excuses excuses excuses more excuses excuses still more excuses excuses excuses until the day we die. anything except: joe dumars put together a bad team. it would be nice if more of the sports journalists in this town had more respect for themselves, their profession, and their audience.

  • Apr 27, 20117:58 pm
    by neutes


    Dang if it wasn’t for the first game of the season the Pistons would have won 60 games!

  • Apr 27, 20119:49 pm
    by gordbrown


    The thing that frosted me about that game, and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, was that play was a turnover on Harris. Pistons shouldn’t have had to dive for the ball because, Harris left his feet, Stuckey had him stuffed so Harris dropped the ball, the ball hit the floor and Harris retrieved it with no one else touching the ball (I watched the replay several times in slow motion). Apparently Harris has special dispensation to pass the ball to himself to avoid a travel. Having said that, it wasn’t just the one game. The Chicago game where Kuester could and should have used his timeouts better to avoid a colossal collapse was an issue. Putting Jason Maxiell out to cover Green on the open court against OKC was another issue. Benching Daye (with DNPs) when Daye had done nothing to deserve that was bad enough, but benching him for Maxiell was a crime against nature as Maxiell and Wallace should never be on the court together ever let alone starting together. So I think the losing streak to start the season set the tone in many bad ways, but Kuester hurt himself a lot in games that were not necessarily against just New Jersey.

  • Apr 28, 20117:59 am
    by detroitpcb


    i would agree that Q lost the respect of the team in that first game with his decisions or non-decisions down the stretch.

    i can recall many quotes early in the season, particularly from Prince, about how it was not just about the players giving more effort.

    and for some reason, Feldman & Hayes are the biggest Q apologists on the web. Obviously Q lost that game. Not responding to the hack-a-Ben. Not making proper matchup adjustments. I recall thinking that day that it was going to be a long season since the coach was incompetent at the end of games when they are often won or lost. 

    • Apr 28, 20119:05 am
      by Patrick Hayes


      Saying the team was bad, regardless of how bad the coach was, is hardly being an apologist. There was nothing to like, save for Greg Monroe, about this Pistons team this season. Nothing.

      Calling us “apologists” is the laziest, stupidest argument you can make.

  • Apr 28, 201112:59 pm
    by brgulker


    If this is what really happened, we need new players, not a new coach.
    Great players are resilient. Our players are not great and are certainly not resilient.

  • Apr 29, 20112:25 am
    by RayGun


    I think Goodwill makes a good point about Kuester losing the team in the first five games, and I appreciate you sharing this information and respect your right to disagree but I think using the free throw statistic is misleading.  When I recall the Nets game, I think of them hacking Ben Wallace to get back into the ball game. Obviously Ben can not hit free throws, so it should be included in your synopsis that the missed free throws involved the Nets purposely fouling Wallace to get the ball back without the deficit growing.  It’s interesting that the coach who created an opportunity for his team to stay in the game was Avery Johnson (allegedly the coach who would’ve taken over the team after Curry if Karen Davidson hadn’t stopped Dumars).  Instead our coach forced the Pistons into having to make clutch plays in a game they had essentially already won because he made poor strategic decisions.

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