The Pistons were on the wrong side of a half court heave by Matt Barnes in early December the last time these two teams met and the Grizzlies left Auburn Hills with a victory in a game they had no business winning. After the initial shock wore off, the blame game set in and the culprit wasn't Matt Barnes. The Pistons gave up eight offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter alone with Marc Gasol luring Andre Drummond away from the hoop giving Zach Randolph the space needed to clean up the glass. At the end of the day, a lucky shot you can live with. Tip your cap and move on. Being physically manhandled? That deserves attention.
In an 82 game season, teams can't afford to spend time lingering on any one game but a loss like that? It's got to still sting a bit. It's human (sports) nature to compare teams from different eras. How would the Bad Boys respond the next time the two teams met? How would the Going to Work team respond? It's fun to think about but the only thing that matters is how the current group of players would answer that question.
It happened again.
Mario Chalmers picked up where Tony Parker left off as another opposing point guard carved up the Detroit defense. It's one thing to get picked apart by a former NBA finals MVP and champion but for the Pistons to get repeatedly beat by the Memphis backup (Mike Conley didn't play) is inexcusable. Chalmers finished the game with 25 points including the game winner with 0.8 seconds remaining.
The Pistons entered the fourth quarter down eight points and trailed by as many as 13 but Stanley Johnson, Marcus Morris and Anthony Tolliver led a comeback that saw the Pistons go up by as many as eight points.
Just like back in December, Detroit couldn't finish the game and horrible late game action cost the Pistons another win.
Brandon Jennings missed a three pointer with Detroit up three and 37 seconds remaining. On the subsequent Memphis possession, Jennings fouled Chalmers on a three point attempt putting Chalmers on the line, who calmly sank all three.
Matt Barnes stripped the ball away from Marcus Morris on Detroit's final possession; Chalmers scooped the ball up and immediately took off down the court. Jennings knocked the ball away but the ball bounces off Marc Gasol and back to Chalmers, who hit the game winner.
Hmmm, that's odd. Where was Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond?
Stan Van Gundy finished the game with the group that brought them back. Jackson only played 23 minutes, hit 5-7 shots and dished out six assists. Decent numbers but in this case, the numbers were somewhat misleading. Jackson, who routinely lives in the paint, failed to make any sort of impact on either end of the court. There were no drives, there were no (intended) lobs to Drummond. He did pick up another technical foul but in Marcus Morris, we already have an ill timed technical foul guy, I'm not sure we need another.
Bad offensive games are acceptable, it happens all the time. Back to back games with questionable defensive effort should never happen, not to anyone and especially not to the "team leader". Jackson must learn to bring it every game.
Andre Drummond wasn't on the court during that final series as again, SVG had to substitute in fear of Drummond being sent to the line down the stretch.
How many other teams take out their best player late in games with such consistency as the Pistons do with Drummond? It's scary to think about. The easy answer remains that Drummond must learn to knock down his free throws. For your own sake, don't hold your breathe.
This team is young and winning is a process, blah, blah, blah. Almost the exact late game sequence happened against the same team and the Pistons let another game slip away. It was easy to avenge the Brooklyn Nets loss; a win in Memphis would've meant something.
I'm not sure how the Bad Boys or Going to Work teams would've handled another loss like this. I do know however, that both locker rooms would've been overstocked with player leadership but it's hard to be a leader from the bench.
With the Golden State Warriors coming to town, who's going to step up?