Right now I have the same attitude about this game recap as I think the Pistons did entering last night's game: "Alright, let's hurry up and get this over with."
Once again, the Pistons opened the game utterly and completely flat. How flat? At the midpoint of the first quarter Detroit was down 23-6, and with a minute left it was 32-12. How does an alleged playoff team go down 20 points in the first quarter? It's easy to write it off as a fluke, but not when it keeps happening again and again...
Say what you want about Detroit needing time after adding four guys to the rotation, but in the first quarter we're talking about four starters who have played with each other for almost three years. Detroit's defense hasn't been all that great early (or late, for that matter), but I refuse to believe that losing Ben Wallace is hurting this team on offense, too.
Call it lack of focus, call it lack of urgency, I don't care. All I know is that the first quarter sets the tone for the entire game, and so far this year Detroit has been outscored 178-144 in the opening period, and only once in seven games have they held the lead after 12 minutes.
For the moment, I refuse to get too wrapped up in these early-season losses -- like I've said before, sooner or later the starters will come around, and as long as the bench keeps producing, we should be in good shape when it does finally come together. But holy crap is where we're at now frustrating to watch.
How bad was it? It took Detroit two quarters to do what Golden State did in one as Detroit entered halftime facing a 67-32 deficit. None of the starters scored more than 11 points -- though it's hard to explain why. Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace each shot at least 50%, but they combined for just 13 attempts. Heck, that's as many as Lindsey Hunter took himself -- he made five of them and finished with a team-high 14 points. When everything else was falling apart, why didn't the Pistons ride Wallace and Prince, the only starters finding the basket with any sort of consistency? (I'm pretty sure that's a rhetorical question, but if someone can actually provide an answer I'd love to hear it.)
If there's a silver lining to this game (and I'm not sure there is), it's that the bench got some serious playing time in the fourth quarter -- everyone but Dale Davis (DNP-CD) finished the game with at least 10 minutes. Jason Maxiell finished with 11 points and seven boards (six offensive) in 28 minutes, Ronald Dupree scored eight with three boards in 12 minutes and Amir Johnson had four points and three boards in 10.
To the Warriors, I tip my cap. I was a bit dismissive of their chances in my preview and was roundly called out for it by their fans on Golden State of Mind, which is not only the best Warriors blog out there but also one of the best NBA team blogs. The truth is, small ball rules in today's NBA, and nobody does small ball better than Don Nelson. Golden State's roster may be flooded with guys a lot of us Eastern Conference fans haven't heard of yet (Andris Biedrins? Monta Ellis?), but I have a feeling that'll change by the end of the season. Don't get me wrong: I'm not predicting playoffs for this perennial doormat, but I won't be surprised if they remain one of the league's highest-scoring teams.
As for the Pistons, they're home for three games this week (and for five of their next six), so I'm guessing they won't be below .500 for long. But here's to hoping that between now and their next game on Wednesday Flip Saunders does something to light a fire under their ass -- it's too early to worry, but it's never time to be complacent.