Another day, another blown ten point lead. Only this time, the bounty of the overtime period (and Jason Maxiell's nascent ability to hit free throws) saved us. At some point, a road win had to come, and you couldn't have asked for a better candidate than the hapless Clippers, who were short Chris Kaman and Baron Davis.
In fairness, the latter was a net positive. Davis has performed egregiously this season, and his departure allowed guys like Eric Bledsoe to pick apart Detroit's soft perimeter defense.
Detroit built a lead and remained competitive by shooting a blistering 61% from three point range, led by Charlie Villanueva's 5-7 shooting performance. As importantly, Austin Daye was able to get things going from the offensive end, which should do wonders for his confidence.
What appeared to be another teaser of a game was turned around when Rodney Stuckey earned two free throws to send the game into the extra period. At a certain point, the pendulum had to swing toward Detroit, and not a moment too soon. The close losses are already making the playoffs seem a near impossibility.Notable performances
Charlie V.: These are the sort of mini-explosions Detroit will need to see from time to time. He's not a grind it out, day to day kind of player, but he can go a long way toward winning ball games when he is in his point per minute mode.
Blake Griffin: Predictably, the Pistons had no answer for Griffin, who got his 18 and 18 on just 15 shots.
Eric Bledsoe: It's easy to see why the Clippers took a risk on this guy. He has proven to be a very efficient point guard at the ripe age of 20. He's basically the anti-Baron.
Tayshaun Prince: Dude is starting to remind me of Robert DeNiro's character in Jackie Brown.
The deciding factor
Inconsistency, which, by definition, swings both ways. Detroit went from up to down, to back up again. This was a win, true, but it was a coin flip against one of the worst teams in the league, which happens to be injured to boot. Systemic problems were nonetheless exposed.
Theoretically, there is no reason why a team that plays well in the first half should consistently flounder in the second. But that has been Detroit's MO to the degree that it might be time to start looking for reasons. One simple explanation is that Detroit's two most potent offensive weapons reside on the bench. An even simpler explanation is that this team is not well coached.
Around the NBA
The Jazz are the anti-Pistons, having come back from a third consecutive double-digit deficit. I've got a gut feeling about that team. Millsap and Jefferson are getting it done without a defensive collapse. Deron Williams is still a star. Raja Bell is surrounded by players who can compensate for his offensive shortcomings.
Who would have thought that, after eight games, Russell Westbrook would be the Thunder MVP? Also, is there a less NBA-appropriate name than Serge Ibaka? That's a really weird team right now.
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