The Detroit Pistons win streak ended at one as they inexplicably let one slip away to Orlando 110-106 at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday night.
The new-look lineup had it's ups and downs. Kyle Singler and the starters were the ups and Rodney Stuckey and every bench player not named Andre Drummond were the downs.
The Pistons twice were up by as many as 13 points but quick runs led by the likes of former Piston Arron Afflalo and sharpshooter J.J. Reddick would always bring the Magic back into the game.
The long and the short of it can be found in the plus-minus stats for the game -- Singler led the Pistons at +17 with the next closes player Brandon Knight's +3. Conversely, Stuckey was -19.
So this whole lineup restructuring is definitely a work in progress. And until one of Stuckey or Will Bynum can start contributing positively on the floor no lead will be safe for the Pistons. After all, somebody has to play the guard.
This loss is definitely a bitter pill to swallow as there was encouraging play from many plenty of Pistons.
Singler was an efficient 5-10, scoring 14 points and playing solid defense all night. Tayshaun Prince was 7-11 and had one of the most vicious dunks of his long career. After finishing the flush he sold it even more by glowered like he was looking at John Kuester.
Greg Monroe had a smooth jumper most of the night and had several nifty basket cuts with a soft touch around the basket. He finished 9-12 for 23 points and seven rebounds. Unfortunately, he also looked passive in crunch time and made some questionable decisions with the ball.
Knight again struggled with his shot going 4-12, but he did have 12 assists to only three turnovers and six rebounds. He still has a long way to go, especially with decision making, but it was largely a step in the right direction.
And of course Drummond delivered his typical efficient, athletic and tantalizing play. He made a few rookie mistakes but shot 5-6 including a nice steal and breakaway dunk and bailed out teammates on more than one occassion.
So how could the Pistons lose what seemed like such a winnable game?
Well, the a fourth-quarter collapse that featured Detroit surrendering 39 points certainly didn't help.
But the bench was dreadful, and I think you can pin this loss squarely on the shoulders of Stuckey, Bynum and Corey Maggette.
All three dribbled the air out of the ball, shot questionable jumpers, didn't take advantage of open teammates and turned the ball over in crucial moments.
Hopefully as Maggette gets back in game shape he will shoot less long jumpers and more effectively slash his way to the free-throw line and not get quite so abused on defense.
And Stuckey's struggles continue but it's still early enough in the season that I'm not worried he's not going to play his way out of it. Bynum is what he is and hopefully Frank will eventually slide Kim English into Will's rotation spot as the reserve unit could use a shooter to go with the slashers.
All in all this was a tough loss to take but at least it featured quality play from all of the team's key young players.