The Pistons were embarrassingly bad in their 119-89 loss to the Magic tonight – but, hey, that occasionally happens to bad teams .
Sometimes, you have to relax, laugh at how inept the Pistons look and dream about lottery odds.
But the stinker became no joking matter when Rodney Stuckey bumped knees with Jason Richardson just before halftime. Stuckey received enough attention while sprawled on the court as the intermission began that the injury looked fairly serous. He didn’t return in the second half, and it would be a shame if yet another injury derailed the home stretch of what has been Stuckey’s finest season.
I can take some solace that a Stuckey injury would help the Pistons’ lottery odds, but I’d rather he didn’t experience what looked to be serious pain for my selfish desires as a fan.
Speaking of, I don’t think I’ve asked much of the Pistons this year, but man, they didn’t even come close tonight.
Tayshaun Prince made his first five shots. Otherwise, his teammates didn’t appear to realize they were playing in an NBA game tonight. They looked dazed as Ish Smith got wherever he wanted off the dribble while setting up his teammates for wide open 3-pointers – especially Richardson, who made 6-of-7 from beyond the arc – and Glen Davis had his way inside. The Pistons’ offense was nearly as disastrous, with turnovers and bad shots dominating the night.
But this was just one game, and unlike early in the season, Detroit has mostly avoided blowout losses to non-elite teams. With Dwight Howard out, the Magic certainly aren’t an elite team. Plus, the Pistons were playing their fourth games in four cities in five nights.
This ridiculous lack of effort is never acceptable, but it was relatively understandable tonight.
Being outsmarted, though, is also never acceptable, and there were no excuses tonight for that.
Stan Van Gundy is a better coach than Lawrence Frank, and this game illustrated a key reason: Van Gundy’s players understand what’s a good shot much better than Frank’s do.
The numbers in a game like this can be a bit misleading, but thankfully, there’s a clear cutoff:
At that point, both teams were shooting a similar percentage on shots longer than 18 feet:
- Pistons: .500 (7-of-14)
- Magic: .522 (12-of-23)
But one team was scoring much more efficiently on those shots:
- Pistons: 1.21 points per shot (17 points)
- Magic: 1.57 points per shot (36 points)
That’s because a much larger percentage of Orlando’s long jumpers were 3-pointers compared to Detroit’s. From that distance, the expected value of a 3-point attempt is considerably higher than a 2-point attempt.
The Pistons repeatedly passed up decent looks at 3-pointers only to settle for similar looks at long 2-pointers. That’s bad basketball, and unless they fix it, that will lead to more bad losses.
Before Frank gets on his players for their effort tonight, he should look at that systematic flaw in his offense.
With a 98-75 loss to the Heat on Sunday, Detroit has lost its last two games by a combined 53 points. That’s the Pistons’ worst two-game stretch since they lost to the Trail Blazers by 31 points and the Lakers by 24 points – a combined 55 points – during the 2000-01 season.
The Pistons have also lost three in a row. Their 30-point loss tonight was their worst loss of the season and matched a 30-point loss to the Nuggets on March 12, 2011.
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