Looking at the 122-114 final score, you'd think the Pistons and Wolves played five quarters, not four. And looking at Detroit's 58.6% shooting (40% from three and 90% from the line), you'd think they'd win this game going away.
Unfortunately, as good as the Pistons were on offense, they struggled to find any cohesion on defense or with the refs. Check out the box score and cue the highlight reel ...
The Pistons led by as many as 10, but a brutal third quarter (in which Minneosta shot 16 free throws to Detroit's four) helped turn the tide. Is blaming the officials an excuse? Absolutely. But there were 77 free throws attempted in this game, literally 30 more than your average Pistons game featured last season.
[Another excuse is the fact that Detroit lacked both Kwame Brown and Ben Wallace, ostensibly two-thirds of their starting frontcourt, but that's barely worth mentioning considering Minnesota was without Kevin Love and Al Jefferson, as well. And let's face it, a starting front court of Ryan Gomes and Oleksiy Pecherov shouldn't kill you -- ever -- but it did, combining for 39 points and 17 boards. I don't know about you, but that kind of takes the thunder out of Charlie Villanueva's (17 points, 10 boards) night. Given Charlie's rep, let's hope that's an anomaly and not a trend.]
Taken as a whole, Detroit's four-game slide after their 3-0 start has tempered expectations, but let's hold off the doomsday talk until the regular season and regular rotations (and, to be honest, regular refs) take effect. This team has the potential, but it's also still getting used to playing with each other and with the coaching staff.