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Staying Competitive for the Lottery: Bobcats 99, Pistons 95

With the Clippers and 76ers nipping at the celluloid balls that rightfully belong to the Pistons, many figured the squad in blue, red, and white needed a loss to prevent a fall in the NBA lottery standings. However, a win last night would not have made a significant impact on the Pistons' lottery odds (a difference of 10 combos). The biggest blow to their odds coincided with their previous three wins. Similarly, a loss does not dramatically improve their odds. As it stands now, they hold the 6th worst record, exactly 63 combos.* Lottery balls be damned, a win last night would not have been detrimental.

And these are the type of games I'd like to see the Pistons win, if they're going to win. Anytime you have a chance to win a game with last minute heroics, those are the kind of experiences you can never get enough of, ones that will make you that much better when the next opportunity presents itself.

Unfortunately the Pistons haven't seized any of these opportunities this season.

Last night, the Pistons' two biggest 2009 free agent signees had a combined five chances to hit go-ahead buckets in the final minute of the game, but all came up empty (and Will Bynum had a sixth chance that would have tied the game).

Ben Gordon, who missed four of those shots, seemed content with competing, though:

"This is exactly what we were talking about, just going out and competing every night, respecting other teams in the playoff hunt and going out there and challenging them," said Gordon, who shot 7-for-20 a night after scoring 39 points against Miami. "That's what we've been doing."

Yes, it was a fun game to watch and, in the long run, losses should help the Pistons (assuming the odds land a higher draft pick and the Pistons actually execute that pick), but this isn't exactly the kind of post-game quote I want to read from the guy who had a chance to do more than simply compete with "the team[s] in the playoff hunt;" the same guy who was brought here to hit those late shots. If I didn't watch the game and see the outcome myself, I wouldn't be able to tell if the Pistons won or lost judging from this quote.

At the same time, we're not exactly at the point in the season to get all bent out of shape about a loss, obviously, and a close one at that. The Pistons have been in a win-win situation for awhile now. We can revel in that much, at least.

A few links that might interest you:

*Even after the three game winning streak, the Pistons are still only a game behind the Kings and Wiz for the 4th/5th worst records. They are 1 1/2 games behind the Warriors for the third worst.