A win on the road against the No. 2 or 3 team in the conference on the second night of a back-to-back would've been a tall task even with Brandon Jennings running the point. Mere hours after officially learning Jennings would be lost for the season with a ruptured achilles? Yeah, while you have to give the Pistons credit for staying in it until the final horn, it's no surprise the team trailed by double digits for much of the game.
Losing Jennings means more than simply losing points and assists.
Take it from Stan Van Gundy:
"Brandon's a guy that probably had the most outward, visible confidence, both in himself and the team. He really thought we were going to kick everybody's butt every night and showed that on the floor. I think that gave his teammates more belief. He really wasn't doing that early in the year, but since Josh (Smith) has been gone and he felt empowered to take more of a leadership role, he had done that. Besides the play, that's going to have to come from somewhere. We're going to need guys to play with that kind of confidence."
D.J. Augustin more than picked up the slack for Jennings' box score production, putting up a career-high 35 points and eight assists, but there was an obvious void in swagger, as Keith Langlois put it.
That, and defense, of course. Jennings wasn't a great defender by any means, but he played with a lot of passion that seemed to be infectious. Look at how he was hurt for instance -- pressing the inbounds pass in a 24-point game. That on-court fire can't be matched by inspirational tweets.
The Pistons need its players to dig deep and find that Jennings swag and confidence, and find a way to not give up 114 points any night. You can't be too mad at how they competed on Sunday given the circumstances, but the Pistons need to rediscover the confidence Jennings had, and still has, in the team. A win on Tuesday against a hot Cavaliers team would help.