Stan Van Gundy took a full timeout with 5:22 left in the fourth quarter. The Pistons looked up at the scoreboard, they were down 77-63 to a lowly Sixers squad that had dominated them all game. Their coach gave them an earful, calling their play "embarrassing" and "humiliating" amongst other things. The Pistons' effort was poor during the game, only two players shot consistently the entire game, Jonas Jerebko and Greg Monroe combined for 30 points on 21 shots, their teammates combining for a measly 11-54. As a whole, the team connected on two of its 20 three-point attempts and were lit up offensively and defensively by a team last in points per game and 22nd in points allowed. The game wasn't pretty, and the players could do nothing but listen as Van Gundy tore into them during their last timeout.
From the sounds of it, they've heeded his message. NBA veteran and team captain Caron Butler opened up on the team's dismal performance in Philadelphia to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:
"I think that's a sign of - it could be a combination of youth, not having been in that situation before but I think losing over the years should have you, wired up," he said. "Man, we had a great opportunity against a really good Cleveland team (Tuesday) night, where guys played great. We fought and a few calls didn't go our way, didn't make a couple shots. Now we have an opportunity to bounce back and get a quality win against an energetic team and we didn't match their energy. There's no calvary coming over the hill to save nobody and nobody's gonna feel sorry for you."
Although Butler has been struggling on the court, he has been a steadying presence off it, between mentoring Brandon Jennings and taking on a leadership role amongst his younger teammates, he has looked to help the team fight through its slumps. He emphasized that the Pistons need to accept the loss of Jennings and persevere through the "adversity", Caron hopes the team doesn't hang its head, but keeps the motivation it had prior to the Milwaukee game. Monroe, who along with Jerebko and Meeks, was the only one to show some fight in the blowout loss, was a lot simpler with his response.
"I mean, you can always make more shots," Monroe said. "But the total effort, that's what it was tonight. Guys miss shots. People miss shots. Some games you're a little off. Tonight was about effort."
Although the effort was seriously lacking in Philadelphia, it was Detroit's poor shooting that sealed their fate. With the Pistons' wing players struggling to convert anything other than Free-Throws over the past four games, it isn't hard to see why the Pistons have been sputtering.
Detroit takes on Houston on Saturday, Jan. 31 at The Palace. Hopefully the team hones in on Butler and Van Gundy's messages and don't repeat the play they exhibited against the Sixers.