In what might become a reoccurring post here at DBB this year, at least 45-55 times, here is the first installment of "What Went Wrong," in which I go through what caused a Pistons night of 'tragic' rather than the preferred 'magic.'
I think it's pretty clear the Pistons were destroyed by James Harden's 37 points and 12 assists in the opener. But the Pistons could have still beaten the Rockets despite a dominating game from Harden. After all, they led at the half and after the third quarter while Harden was still hard on stuff for the Rockets.
What obviously did the Pistons in was getting outscored 33-15 in the final 12 minutes on their way to ultimately losing 105-96. Rather than sticking with what worked through three quarters, the Pistons went small and started to overcompensate on Harden, allowing him to find wide open teammates. He had five of his 12 assists in the final quarter -- two of which went to former Piston Carlos Delfino, who hit four of his five (5!) three pointers in the fourth.
Meanwhile, Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight combined to shoot 0-for-6 in the fourth. If you count Kim English and Will Bynum, who each joined Stuckey and Knight on the floor at some point in the final quarter as part of Frank's brilliant idea to go small, the four shot a combined 0-for-9 with two turnovers. That's really-really bad.
For the game, Stuckey and Knight combined to score just 24 points on 6-for-25 shooting with 10 assists and two turnovers. Meanwhile, the Rockets' starting guards -- Harden and Jeremy Lin -- put up 49 points on 19-for-37 shooting with 20 assists and eight turnovers.
The whole fourth was bad for the team, though. Houston outrebounded Detroit 13-3, outscored them 8-0 on second chance points and 9-3 off turnovers. It's as if the younger Rockets turned it on when it mattered most, taking advantage of the Pistons going away from what helped them lead through three quarters.
Ed. note - This was supposed to go up early Thursday, but my internet went out & thus, can suck it.