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Let's call it a comeback: Looking back at 2014-2015 Pistons win-loss margins

A win is better than a loss. But more than that, it is not how you start the game but how you finish it.

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The goal of any competition is to have fun and enjoy the competition whether you win or lose. But you still want to win. In 2014-15, the Pistons did not win as much as they would have liked. But as the season went on, their losses were not so bad.

The final score of any basketball game does not tell the whole story of the game. A team could be winning by 22 points with 11 minutes to go in the game, go to the bench players, and end up winning the game by only seven. This was the case on December 26th in 2012 when the Pistons overcame a 22-point fourth quarter deficit to lose by seven points in double overtime.

We joke about the Pistons routinely having fourth quarter collapses, 4QCs. The definition (loosely) of a 4QC is where the Pistons were leading or tied to start, or any time during, the fourth quarter and ended up losing the game. Without diving into the play-by-play of each game to see if the Pistons were leading at any point during the fourth quarter, the Pistons lost eight games when they were leading or tied to start the fourth quarter.

Those eight games came at very distinct periods of the season; four during the Josh Smith era and four after trading for Reggie Jackson. There is no direct correlation between these losses to these players, but it is interesting to note.

On the flip side, the Pistons had five games where they were losing the game (or tied) to start the fourth quarter and ended up winning. One was in Jodie Meeks' first game of the season. Another was in the game at Toronto when Brandon Jennings stole the ball from Kyle Lowry to seal the victory. And three came in the period after trading for Jackson -- against Memphis, Boston and Miami.

Here is a breakdown of some fourth quarter and wins/losses stats by different periods of the season.

Season Smith Era Jennnings Era Jackson Era 27-27
Lost 4th, Won game 13 3 6 1 10
Lost 4th average -5.39 -6.00 -3.86 -5.77 -5.00
4th Q +/- average -0.012 -2.607 +2.750 +1.250 +1.333
Win Margin 11.91 4.00 11.92 13.64 13.37
Loss Margin -9.26 -9.04 -10.00 -8.82 -9.44
Overall Win/Loss Margin -1.00 -6.71 +6.44 0.00 +1.96

Looking at the table, at least one thing is evident: The Pistons sucked to start the year! But once Stan Van Gundy traded for Anthony Tolliver, things got better immediately. Then sadly, after Jennings went down with his injury, things were in flux often.

Something else that can tell you about how well the Pistons finished games is the clusters of the final differences.

Season Smith Era Jennnings Era Jackson Era 27-27
Win by 1-5 10 4 4 2 6
Win by 6-10 8 1 4 4 7
Win by 11-20 9 0 4 3 9
Win by 21+ 5 0 2 2 5
Lose by 1-5 12 5 1 4 7
Lose by 6-10 19 9 0 9 10
Lost by 11-20 17 8 3 3 9
Lose by 21+ 2 1 0 1 1

What you can see in the table above is that 17 of the 23 losses during the Josh Smith Era were between six and 20 points, accounting for 73.9-percent of their losses. However, when Tolliver was brought in, now only 70.4-percent of their losses were between six and 20 points. There were two 20+ point losses in the Josh Smith Era (8.7-percent) but only one after that (3.7-percent). So as the season went on, the Pistons were closer in the final margin than they had been to start the season.

There is hope that 4QCs will soon be a thing of the past, or at the very least less frequent. Whether it be by the cheer-leading that Jennings supplies or by the Pistons building large enough leads to coast the rest of the game, the Pistons have the making of a strong finishing team. Or, maybe we can start using the better definition for it: fourth quarter comeback!