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Stan Van Gundy goes off on starters for third-quarter effort

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"If you're a professional athlete, it was inexcusable."

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons trailed the Minnesota Timberwolves by only one point going into the third quarter. Seven minutes later they were down 19. If not for a run to end the third, the Pistons would've trailed by that many going into the fourth. If this was Stan Van Gundy's face before the third quarter, imagine what it was during the third quarter.

We know what he said after the game [via MLIVE]:

"We just absolutely melted down, hung our heads, and basically, the group on the floor were willing to let the game go. They were willing to let the game go," Van Gundy said. "We got five guys in there who weren't willing to let the game go and we got back in it."

"But that was very, very disappointing. That was the first adversity we hit this year and we failed the test badly."

...

"Right now, I'm just worried about the whole mental state of our team," Van Gundy said. "What happened in the third quarter was inexcusable. It really is. If you're a professional athlete, it was inexcusable." (via NBA.com)

Van Gundy didn't call anybody out by name, but here it is: Andre Drummond, Josh Smith, Kyle Singler, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brandon Jennings. That's the Pistons' starting lineup.

Drummond was replaced by Joel Anthony four and a half minutes in when Drum picked up his fourth foul and D.J. Augustin subbed in for Jennings eight seconds later when Jennings got T'd up. The Pistons were down 11 at this point.

The deficit grew to 15 before Singler exited for Caron Butler. It hit as high as 19 and was 17 when Jonas Jerebko finally replaced Smith two and a half minutes after Butler came in.

The weirdest thing happened when Jerebko came on for Smith: The Pistons started their mini-comeback and over the final 3:25 the Pistons outscored the Timberwolves 12-3.

The fourth quarter started with the same group that ended the third -- Anthony, Jerebko, Butler, KCP and Augustin. Drummond was substituted in for Anthony at the 9:20 mark. The Pistons pulled within five and put Smith back in for Jerebko.

The Pistons actually had a chance to take the lead around the 2:15 mark, but Smith -- of course Smith -- missed a three. Caron Butler made a three on the team's next possession to tie things up at 88-88 after a Timberwolves bucket, but the T-wolves immediately answered with a three of their own on a pick-and-pop where Smith and Augustin failed to communicate and left Thaddeus Young wide open beyond the long line. The game wasn't over at that point, but it felt like it was the nail in the coffin.

The coffin that was bought and paid for by the starters' efforts in the third quarter.

Now your thoughts.