Sloppy Pistons Blown Out by Mavericks, 100-86

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What do you get when you are fielding a team that doesn't have any efficient shooters, no one to initiate the offense, a lack of size, no shot-blocking ability, and a bunch of young players playing key roles in a first-year coach's system during an abbreviated season? You get games like Tuesday's 100-86 blowout loss against the Dallas Mavericks at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Or a 92-68 blowout loss to Chicago. Or a 103-80 blowout loss to New York. Or a 96-73 blowout loss to Philadelphia. Or ... well, you get the idea.

The Pistons are a mess on both ends of the floor, but the most glaring problem is the point guard position. While Brandon Knight was able to provide a quick flash with a 23-point performance in the second game of the year against the Cavaliers, the 20-year-old rookie has shown little since and has a lot to learn before he can be counted on to run the offense.

Knight has more turnovers than assists this season, including a 2:6 assist to turnover ratio against the Mavericks to go with 12 points. And while he hasn't been the only player coughing up the ball, his role is to take care of the rock and give it to his teammates in a position to score. He just isn't getting it done.

And oh, did turnovers kill the Pistons tonight. And they weren't the kinds of turnovers generated by pesky defense. They were turnovers generated by guards making poor decisions and throwing lazy passes. You couldn't serve up the ball better to the Mavericks.

For the game the Pistons had 21 turnovers, which Dallas was able to turn into 24 easy points. The Mavs also were able to tally 28 assists on just 38 baskets.

Pick a stat and it was a horror show for the Pistons.

The Mavericks shot better than 55 percent for the game, including a poor-shooting fourth quarter that Dallas treated as garbage time. The Mavs starters combined to shoot 21-32, including a team-high 18 points for Dirk Nowitzki on 9-for-10 shooting.

The Pistons were outrebounded, outhustled, and just plain outclassed by the defending NBA champions.

While there was no quality basketball played by the Pistons outside of garbage time, there were two stretches that were perfect encapsulations of everything that has gone wrong for the Pistons lately. The Pistons committed seven turnovers in their first eight possessions to start the game, and the Mavericks raced out to a 23-7 lead. And facing a 52-38 deficit at halftime, the Pistons came out with a quick bucket under the basket from a cutting Greg Monroe.

So far so good, right? Nope. The Pistons then allowed the Mavericks to go on a 16-0 run and committed six more turnovers in less than five minutes.

Monroe was again a bright spot for the Pistons, but only relatively speaking. Moose had 9 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists as he battled foul trouble. The Pistons were paced by Will Bynum, who scored a game-high 20 points, but got many of those in garbage time.

The Pistons are a bad, bad team and can't deal with injuries to key players, including the much maligned Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva, neither of whom played Tuesday. As I said in my game preview, the offense would look a lot smoother if Stuckey was taking care of the ball and Villanueva was out on the perimeter unafraid to take an open shot.

But with those two out, the Pistons can't execute the offense. Nobody can give Ben Gordon an open look, nobody can find open cutters, nobody can execute a clean pick-and-roll play and the team even had trouble setting up Monroe in the high post.

And as the losses mount and the pressure builds all the young players look more and more hesitant and unsure of themselves. Several times tonight Knight, Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye looked like the last thing they wanted to do was shoot the ball. Instead they would pass it to well-covered players like Tayshaun Prince, Damien Wilkins and Jason Maxiell, who would have to hoist desperation shots at the end of the clock.

And the Mavericks were all too willing to give up those jump shots. Dallas made a conscious effort to pack the lane and not give up any second-chance opportunities. Four minutes into the second quarter the Pistons had a grand total of three rebounds, all defensive boards and all by Ben Wallace. For the game Detroit was outrebounded 34-29.

So are there any positives to take away from this latest embarrassing defeat? Well, all those Pistons fans that complained that the Pistons were always just good enough to miss out on the top lottery players look like they will get a chance to see Detroit pick in the top five. And it's better for the Pistons to lose a lot of games now, slowly learn coach Lawrence Frank's system and slowly get better and better. That way the team can give us a high lottery pick and hope for the future. And right now all we can live on is hope.

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