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Pistons Links: Ball movement problems, starters slumping, All-Star voting

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Detroit has hit a bit of a bump recently. Let's see if they can get their act together with a less than daunting slate of games this week. Links ahead!

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Knicks and Timberwolves and Pacers, oh my!

Said no one in recent memory.

Detroit can and should reach the 20-win mark before the week is over. Playing more team focused ball would be a terrific start. But above all, knock down shots -- the outside shooting has been brutal the last two games.

Celtics earn satisfying win over Pistons -- Boston Globe

"I took this game personally," Bradley said. "I knew I didn't play very well last time I was here and I wanted to come and prove to my teammates that I could play better and I'm pretty sure we all felt embarrassed because we felt like we should have won [that] game. [On Saturday], we all had a chip on our shoulder and played hard and got the win."

Boston struggled mightily from the 3-point line, missing 19 of 23 attempts, including 1 for 13 by everyone other than Bradley. They won this game by attacking the rim and hitting short jumpers, tallying 50 points in the paint, despite the presence of Drummond.

It's Detroit's turn to feel embarrassed after Saturday's performance. Don't let the final score trick you, Detroit's overall team effort left a lot to be desired. They need to figure out how to grind out ball games, do the little things, match the opponent's intensity. I often worry about this team's toughness. Cliche enough, right?

If there's a magic fix for Pistons, it's getting the ball hopping on offense, SVG says -- Pistons.com

As a symptom of their issues with ball movement, Pistons starters - statistically among the top five-man units in the NBA all season - have gotten the team off to sluggish starts for the past three games. Van Gundy pulled them aside as a unit Sunday to find a remedy. He liked the response it elicited.

"They actually did a lot of talking as time went on. They were a little quiet at first," he said. "Ersan (Ilyasova) had a lot to say. Marcus (Morris) had a lot to say. The other guys had a little bit to say, but I think that's to be expected - the two oldest guys had the most to say about playing the right way and playing together and sacrificing individual goals for the team, that type of thing. I have faith in those guys, but again, two of those guys weren't with us last year. Reggie was with us a third of the year. They're young guys. Things take time. You don't want them to take time, but they take time."

Meeting of Pistons' starters produces pointed critique on sharing the ball -- MLive

Morris said the Pistons' have found their offensive sweet spot when they make "everybody feel like they're involved in touching it and making plays."

When that doesn't happen, it affects the defensive side, which was a central topic of the starters' discussion.

"I think that's really been a problem for us," Morris said. "A couple guys don't get the open looks that they want and it takes away from our effort. It's noticeable. It's to the point where we've got to be professionals at all times. We've just got to play basketball the right way."

Ilyasova used some of the same verbiage, with some specific examples of games the Pistons have lost to sub-.500 teams, "and I'm talking about like the Lakers, Brooklyn, those games, I think about if we win those games, we're in sixth place, seventh place."

Still can't get over that Detroit loss to the Lakers way back when. I watched some of the Lakers vs. Clippers fun on Christmas and the Lakers have got to be the most poorly assembled team in a long time. The fact they made all those changes in the offseason with hopes of actually winning makes it that much more special.

Pistons Starters Looking to Break Out of Slump -- Today's Fastbreak

Drummond's five 20/20 games give him an enormous lead - Dwight Howard is the only other player on the board with one - and put him on pace for 13 this season. That would be the most in the last 30 years, topping the 12 by Kevin Willis in 1991-92.

"When you go into a game with Detroit, you have to focus on cutting down their number of second-chance points, where in most games you are trying to eliminate them," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "With Drummond out there, he's going to get some no matter what you do, just because of his physical presence and his ability."

No matter what Drummond does - and he's still spending time on the bench to avoid intentional fouls - he's going to need more help from his fellow starters.

Short on All-Star votes, Carmelo Anthony starts politicking -- NYPost

The early returns, announced on Christmas, indicate Anthony, who said he would play Saturday night after missing Wednesday's loss to the Cavaliers with a sprained right ankle, may need the coaches to vote him in as reserve.

Anthony finished fourth among Eastern Conference frontcourt players behind LeBron James, Paul George and Detroit center Andre Drummond, a UConn product amid his career year. The top three vote getters will start in Canada for the East.

Why the NBA should stop basketball fans from picking All-Star starters -- Quartz

Just as long as Drummond gets the starting nod instead of Kristaps Porzingis, I'll rest fine. I'm not even that put off by Kobe starting. Kyrie Irving getting the starting nod (and even being on the roster) -- now that's criminal. But I'll still rest easy.

CJ McCollum powers Trail Blazers past Sacramento Kings -- Oregon Live

We are loosely keeping track of the Most Improved Player race, yeah? If we are, know that McCollum is still firmly in the front of the pack with a strong showing in a victory against the Kings Sunday night. Come on Reggie, your turn.

McCollum in rare statistical territory

McCollum became the first NBA player with at least 35 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four steals since Kevin Garnett in 2004 and the first Blazer to record that stat-line since Clyde Drexler in 1992.

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Now let's get started on that wiping the floor with Knickerbockers talk.