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Pistons fall asleep at the wheel in Los Angeles

Got an IM this afternoon from Ian, who wasn't able to watch the game last night:

4:27 PM Ian: what the f happened to the Pistons last night?

I can sum it up with two numbers: 18-0.

After Carlos Delfino drained a three with 3:06 left in the third quarter, the Pistons basically took a nap for the next six minutes. The Lakers scored 18 unanswered points, going from being down 10 to being up eight (sadly, with Kobe Bryant not even in the game for about half of that time). The Pistons flirted with a comeback, but they just couldn't make a stop when they needed to and definitely couldn't make a bucket or hold onto the ball to save their lives.

The shots just weren't dropping, and they didn't do themselves many favors by settling for outside jumpers. Here is a list of their misses from the play-by-play following Delfino's trey:

  • Tayshaun Prince misses 5-foot jumper
  • Carlos Delfino misses 14-foot jumper
  • Chauncey Billups misses 25-foot three point jumper
  • Tayshaun Prince misses 19-foot jumper
  • Tayshaun Prince misses 17-foot jumper
  • Chauncey Billups misses 40-foot three point jumper (desperation shot as time expired in the third)
  • Antonio McDyess misses 13-foot jumper
  • Richard Hamilton misses 16-foot jumper
  • Chauncey Billups misses 30-foot three point jumper

Thankfully, Rasheed Wallace stopped the bleeding more than three minutes into the fourth quarter by making an 11-foot jumper. But compounding Detroit's problems was the fact that they committed three team fouls in those first three minutes, which came back to haunt them when the Lakers eventually got into the bonus for much of the remaining time.

It looked like the Pistons were ready to make a run of their own when they came within five with three and half minutes left, but instead things just snowballed, with the Lakers extending their lead to a game-high 13 with 25 seconds left before ultimately winning by 11.

Ugh. It was just plain ugly. I thought it was clear the Pistons were battling fatigue (Ben Wallace had just five rebounds!) not to mention a stretch of bad luck where the refs simply swallowed their whistles -- (Rip was simply mobbed a few times trying to drive the lane, and Delfino appeared to have the ball knocked away on the baseline by Kobe Bryant swinging his warm up jacket from the sidelines when he wasn't even in the game!)

Kobe Bryant makes an impact without even being in the game.

But all things considered, complaining is just sour grapes -- the Pistons lostthe game; the refs didn't take it away. They looked like a team playing on the road completing the second half of a back-to-back. They played six games in 10 days, each in a different city, so it's understandable they were a little tired. Seriously, stuff like this happens to other teams all the time, and we wouldn't have batted an eye last year.

And even though the Pistons have two out of their last three games, they haven't lost any ground to the rest of the league -- Dallas has done the exact same thing, losing to the Spurs on Thursday and the Suns today. And while San Antonio is only one and a half games behind Detroit, in the next 12 days the Spurs have two games against the Suns, who beat the Spurs the last time they played, and one against the Clippers, who took the Spurs to overtime earlier in the year.

The Pistons don't play again until Wednesday, which is good news for Antonio McDyess, who is scheduled for surgery on Monday. McDyess doesn't expect to miss any games but will likely be sporting that new mask of his far more frequently.

Lakers 105, Pistons 94 box score [ESPN]