ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 03: Charlie Villanueva #31 of the Detroit Pistons reacts after getting called for a foul against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on November 3 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this Photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Well, there you have it. The Detroit Pistons fizzled in the 4th quarter once again to cede the game to a team they should have beaten. The Atlanta Hawks remain the only undefeated team in the Eastern Conference, while the Detroit Pistons become the only team in the East without a win. The Charlotte Bobcats and the Philadelphia 76ers both earned their first win of the season while the Pistons drop to 0 and 5.
On top of this string of losses, the dissent within the Pistons ranks continues to grow in volume. After Tayshaun Prince and head coach John Kuester played the blame game in the media, early reports suggest that Rodney Stuckey and Kuester feuded tonight to the point that Stuckey spent most of the last two quarters on the bench. Two of the Pistons most important players, starting point guard Rodney Stuckey and leading veteran wing Tayshaun Prince are now both having very public issues with the Pistons coaching staff. While the Stuckey issue is public, Ben Wallace was also kept silent in the 2nd half. This issue could be a lot deeper than it seems at first glance...
On the bright side, the Pistons game tonight against the Hawks saw the coming out of Greg Monroe, who showed poise and an active defensive presence on the court. Monroe was a few plays away from a double-double, grabbing 8 rebounds (six on the offensive glass), 7 points and 3 assists. The numbers don't tell the whole story on Monroe, who genuinely worked hard on the defensive end to give trouble to the newly-extended Al Horford. This isn't reflected in the box score, however, as Horford put up 18 and 8 on 67% shooting. Horford's misses and turnovers were largely the result of some capable D from rookie Greg Monroe.
While the players were upset with Kuester, fans had little reason to be upset until the closing minutes. Kuester set up some strong lineups that were partly responsible for Detroit building a solid lead in the 4th. Ball movement and speed were shown here, two things this Pistons roster must explore if they hope to right this record. However, the plays by Kuester led to yet another terminal performance in the 4th. DaJuan Summers closed out the game, turning the ball over and missing shots when it truly mattered. The Pistons closing lineups were laughable, and apparently were the result of some kind of weird power play against the players Kuester is supposed to be coaching.
If the early reports are true, this is a team whose morale has hit bottom and has lost faith in its head coach. If there is any kind of positive takeaway from this, it's that it appears the players are unified against Kuester. For a team that never connected last season, it is ironic that the makings of their chemistry is based on a collective issue with the coaching staff.
So the Pistons are 0 and 5. When will the bleeding stop? Will this coach/player schism be stopped before its too late? Is it already too late? This game has yielded more tough questions than it has answered, despite the solid play of rookie Greg Monroe.