Pistons vs. Wizards: Back-to-back blowouts

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The first reports of locker room rumblings are rising in the wake of a pair of road beatings against sub-.500 teams.

What happened:

The Wizards took less than three minutes to win this game. They opened up with an 11-2 lead as they dominated the Pistons on both ends of the floor, looking like the more talented, polished, and balanced team. All of the Washington starters scored in double digits with true shooting percentages over 60 percent.

The Pistons nipped at the Wizards heels several times in the first half by closing the lead to five or so, but cracks in the defense quickly opened the lead back up.

For the second straight game Josh Smith was awful, bringing essentially nothing to the floor. Over the last two games, he's averaged 20 minutes, 4.5 points on 20 percent shooting, 5.5 rebounds, a block and a turnover. As has been rather heavily reported, he was benched in the second half of yesterday's game and is unhappy about it.

More puzzling though was Greg Monroe watching from the sidelines from the middle of the third on, as was the sole Pistons starter to actually play relatively well. He offered 14 points on 9 shots, 7 rebounds, 2 assists (with no turnovers), and a steal in only 23 minutes. He struggled to contain Marcin Gortat early on, but at least forced difficult shots.

What stood out:

Something needs to change.

Nearing the halfway mark of the season, the Pistons have lost 4 of 5 including the last two by a combined 41 points. Plugging Josh Smith in at small forward isn't working. Teams have caught on to the isolations that were so effective during his run at success, now bringing a double team that he's unable to exploit.

But as Mo Cheeks said, "The game wasn't about Josh Smith. The game was we got beat. It's not just about Josh Smith. We got beat. We got beat pretty good. It wasn't just Josh Smith. It's the overall game. It wasn't just Josh Smith."

That may be my favorite Cheekism of the season so far. He's right though. The team didn't get any better with Smith on the bench. They looked thoroughly outcoached by Randy Wittman. Never a good thing.

Cheeks' rotations are not looking good, particularly how he is using a two point guard lineup. The playcalling too often resorts to Brandon Jennings or Will Bynum playing hero ball. The biggest problem in the defense looks to be the scheme, particularly on pick-and-rolls.

There's a lot to like about Cheeks as a coach and like each of the five past Pistons head coaches he was handed a losing situation. But something needs to change.

Who stood out:

Josh Harrellson continues to look like a long-term option at center. Kyle Singler kept up what has been a very nice December. Jonas Jerebko has made the most of every minute he's gotten this year. Greg Monroe played well. That's all the nice things there are to say after this mess.

An injury note, Rodney Stuckey left early in both blowout losses due to his injured shoulder. He struggled in the minutes on the court in each.

Roll call:

# Commenter # Comments
1 Mike Payne 51
2 MrHappyMushroom 46
3 heWizard 46
4 Joe Cool99 38
5 JWurm 36
6 sauce1977 29
7 Kriz 27
8 rames 18
9 jayod 18
10 andyfochtman 16
11 grantlp13 15
12 ds.tucker.5 14
13 Absolutia 14
14 rbanner 13
15 Kellen Moore Our Savior? 13
16 Jacob30 11
17 Toledo Joe 11
18 FlyMonk321 9
19 bugman222 9
20 smackdab 8
21 Habbidabs 8
22 Justin Lambregtse 7
23 Iron Sheik 6
24 Kevin Sawyer 6
25 revken 6
26 Rusty_Shackleford 5
27 V. 5
28 TheRealXenocide 3
29 IamPAP 3
30 swish330 3
31 The truth Rodney White 3
32 Rban 3
33 Aris Kafadogias 2
34 jay_uno 2
35 stevenyc 2
36 oSoG21 2
37 Tom Y. 2
38 Goose15 2
39 Trout Jefferson 1
40 shags 1
41 Johnny Quid 1
42 Ballinhard04 1
43 bonerici 1
44 hp2009eagle 1
45 Supa Dupe 1
46 Fadel 1
47 Russell Baltes 1
48 TDP 1
49 John Wall Stan 1
50 Packey 1
51 My center jump higher 1
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