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Pistons Need a Gut Check; Trail Cleveland 2-0

I could only think of one analogy when I had to gather myself and actually write this recap. It might be a little harsh, and it pains me to say this, but that game was very reminiscent of a Detroit Lions game.

Think about it.

The Pistons did everything the Lions would do on a weekly basis. Let the opponent jump out to a commanding lead, leaving fans with nothing else to do but chores around the house while the TV merely serves as background noise. Then there's this hint of hope as the "prevent" defense allows a little surge in the fourth quarter and sucks you back into viewing only to see your team come up short as the other team puts you back on your butt.

That's exactly how this game went.

Cleveland jumped out to an early 10 point lead five minutes into the game and were up 14 by halftime. By the four minute mark of the third, Cleveland was sitting on a 20 point lead and it inflated to 27 by the end of the quarter.

The Pistons were playing the least inspiring basketball I can ever remember. It didn't look as if any of them wanted to make it a game. Blank stares coming from one the most colorful Pistons player, Rasheed Wallace pretty much told the whole story. They were emotionless. Dead in the water. Finished.

Michael Curry started the fourth quarter with a lineup that screamed mercy; a lineup that conceded everything like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar and asked Cleveland to, "be gentle." The lineup consisted of reserves Jason Maxiell, Will Bynum, Arron Afflalo, Kwame Brown, and Walter Herrmann, with Amir Johnson subbing in for Kwame just a couple minutes into the quarter.

However, instead of serving as Cleveland's very own human victory cigars, this group of reserves went on a 25-9 run over the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter and pulled the Pistons to within just seven.

The "they did this against Cleveland scrubs" argument doesn't apply here, either. Cleveland had regulars in the game and they checked Lebron, Varejao, and Williams back into the game when Detroit made it a 15 point game with over half the quarter left. Even then, a lineup of Bynum, Afflalo, Herrmann, Johnson/McDyess was still able to cut the lead to seven with just under four minutes left.

The run had Pistons fans on the edge of their seats again, hoping a miraculous comeback would be completed and send Detroit home for Game Three with a shocking Game Two victory. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. The Pistons bench players' valiant attempt fell short just as everyone subconsciously suspected would happen.

Cleveland hit seven free throws and a couple buckets in those final minutes to seal the deal and send Pistons fans into a fit of frustration again, with important questions on our mind.

Now, I realize it could have been a case where the reserves played hard and were a little lucky by not having missed a shot until the 5:58 mark of the fourth. It also helps that Cleveland lost a little focus for the first time in the series and understandably so--they were up 27 and Detroit was showing no signs of caring.

In the end, it was nice to see a little comeback. It was nice to see the reserves show a little pride and play with some heart to bring the Pistons within seven after being down double digits for most of the night. What's not nice is it's still a loss, we're down 2-0, and I'm sitting here wondering where the swagger that the group of reserves showed has gone in our starters. 'Sheed said it would come with the playoffs and I haven't seen it, yet.

Now, just as I do with the Lions, I look for ways to give the Pistons the benefit of the doubt and search for ways to still believe. If this series is anything like last year's 1/8 then these blow outs should have been expected and each team will win all their home games. Sure, the No. 8 1994 Denver Nuggets were down 2-0 before beating the No. 1 Supersonics. However, right now, I only see a bunch of starters that need a serious gut check.