The Detroit Pistons came out of the All-Star break with two games to prove they belonged in a playoff race as they faced the team directly in front of them for the last playoff spot in the East. Instead they proved they are an abysmal team going nowhere after getting easily handled by the Charlotte Bobcats for the second game in a row, falling 116-98 Wednesday.
The Pistons now sit 2.5 games out of the playoffs with 28 to play, including 16 on the road and 11 against Western Conference teams. So what did the Pistons prove during Wednesday night's embarrassment?
John Loyer might not be an improvement over Maurice Cheeks
There were a couple ways to easily tell if Loyer was an upgrade over Cheeks. More sensible player rotations and better defensive schemes. Unfortunately, it just seems like more of the same. The Pistons were a mess on rotations on the pick and roll and closeouts and didn't communicate or play with any cohesion. And offensively, Loyer seems just as committed to playing the big three together as Cheeks ever was and he's shortened his rotation to eight guys with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope fallen completely out of it.
Andre Drummond still has a lot to learn about defense
Drummond, and every other big man for that matter, was again eaten alive by the deadly Al Jefferson, who notched another 29 points and eight rebounds and got to rest a lot in the fourth quarter. Drummond needs to learn about positioning and awareness of course, but he also has to realize that he is 6-10 and 270 pounds. He's a huge guy who jumps out of the gym for rebounds but when bodying up his man he's a shrinking violet. He needs to get a little toughness and meanness in his game. It needs to become Drummond's paint. So far not so much.
The Pistons have zero quality defenders in their starting lineup
We covered Drummond already, but all the players need to share in the blame on defense. Brandon Jennings again gets torched, Kyle Singler can't keep pace with shooting guards, Josh Smith is still a disaster on the perimeter and shouldn't be playing small forward any longer, and Greg Monroe is a step slow and lacks awareness. No wonder the Bobcats were allowed to shoot 51 percent tonight.
The team looks like it has no fight in it
The Pistons needed to win these two games against the Bobcats. They got slaughtered in both. And the worst part is they played with no energy or passion. They played like they expected to lose. The Pistons missed 52 shots on the night and was only able to grab seven rebounds offensively. they also got outrebounded overall 49-31. Pathetic.
This is still very much a team led by Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.
Smith played 41 minutes, took 18 shots and three 3-pointers. Jennings played 35 minutes and took 18 shots. The two combined to shoot 14-for-36. A recipe for losing basketball.
This season is over
Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. The only silver lining is that maybe these past two games have been so ugly that Gores and his team (including Dumars?) will decide to just sell off assets and see if they can get a taker for Stuckey, Bynum and maybe even Jennings or Smith. If the player isn't Andre Drummond or isn't on a rookie contract then they should be readily made available for whatever they can get. If they want to keep their draft pick the team has 24 hours to put themselves in the proper position to do something.
What stood out
The Bobcats looked like a quality basketball team while the Pistons looked like one of the five worst teams in the NBA. Simple as that. Nothing you can do about that.
Who stood out
Al Jefferson -- again. The Pistons did pretty much everything they did the night before and got torched in all the same ways, especially by Jefferson. He absolutely dominated Drummond and Monroe and if the game wasn't so far out of reach he would have scored 35+ points. The Pistons simply had no answer for his power game.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was limited to three minutes. He is almost completely out of the rotation at this point. Sad to see.
- Rodney Stuckey had a bounce-back game after a dreadful game yesterday, shooting 6-for-10 and scoring 15 points. Look, NBA teams, he can help you in your playoff run.
- Brandon Jennings got ejected late in the fourth quarter after getting into it with the officials and had to be restrained by Loyer. Obviously frustrated, obviously doesn't like losing, obviously has to keep his composure.
- I sincerely hope that the team won't wait until it is mathematically eliminated before playing the young guys like Siva, Mitchell, Datome and KCP. With how bad the East is it might take until close to the end of the season, but this team is obviously going nowhere.