The Detroit Pistons entered Talking Stick Resort Arena having lost each time they visited an opponents floor this season. The Phoenix Suns came into Wednesday night having lost every game that's come to it's conclusion in regulation time. These are not mutually exclusive events when combined, but it felt like something had to give.
Detroit came out of the gate looking like they were going to take misguided vengeance on the Suns, following a 114-82 clobbering by the Los Angeles Clippers just three days ago. The offense was flowing, with early contributions coming from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, and Tobias Harris. KCP went on to lead all scorers, finishing the game with 27 points, on 9/22 from the floor.
Throughout the start of the game, the Suns displayed a quality of basketball ineptness that I have yet to see this season (at least during a Pistons game), missing 13 straight shots over the course of the final seven minutes of the first quarter. This game was ripe for the picking, and would have been a crucial win, seeing how the Pistons are in the midst of a West Coast road trip, which still includes a date with the San Antonio Spurs tomorrow night.
Unfortunately for Detroit, they were unable to continue to produce high quality offense throughout the rest of the game. And while the outcome of the game was not what we were hoping for, eventually losing to the lowly Suns 107-100, there were a few bright spots throughout the contest.
1.) KCP shot it well from deep - he finished the game 5/10, improving to 39% from beyond the arc this season.
2.) Andre Drummond continues to hit his free throws- he shot 4/6 from the charity stripe, improving to 52.3% for the season.
3.) Jon Leuer still looks like one of the best off-season acquisitions - he finished the game with 11 points, 9 rebounds, and is now averaging 10.1 points and 6.5 rebounds a game.
Alright, enough of the feel-good stuff.
Throughout most of this young season, there have not been too many instances where the Pistons desperately needed Reggie Jackson. Wednesday night was that instance.
The point guard play from Ish Smith and Beno Udrih was frankly awful. Smith looked out of sorts, bricking jump shots and blowing lay-ups. He did well getting KCP and Andre Drummond going, but was unable to continually include Tobias Harris in the offense throughout the second, third, and fourth quarter. Harris who had seven points in the first quarter, managed to score only two points throughout the rest of the game, partly due to his inability to hit a shot but also due to the fact that he seemed like a schematic afterthought.
Back to Beno. When the game is highly contested going into the final stretch of the fourth quarter, why would the back-up point guard make it a point to try and find his shot? Udrih repeatedly shot the rock when there was ample time on the shot clock or in transition when he clearly did not have the best look. Your role is to get others involved, and to shoot when open, not to warm up the Udrih-oven hoping that you'll eventually get it cooking to finish the game.
Sorry for the awful word play, but I'm still HEATED thinking about it.
It should be noted that Eric Bledsoe had a field day with the Pistons point guards. He shot 8/15, finishing with 21 points, with 14 of those points coming in the fourth quarter. It was a mismatch.
The most disappointing take-away from this loss was how the Pistons seemingly found a way to lose. Detroit is supposed to be a more mature group, who figures it out against inexperienced teams, and finds a way to win when the collective unit does not put forth a strong performance.
The Pistons looked awful in the second and third, but still stole back momentum taking the lead early into the fourth quarter. From there, you'd expect the team to shut the door on one of the youngest teams in the NBA, but that clearly did not happen, and the Pistons are still winless on the road.
Detroit Bad Boys nation, did you notice any other bright spots, or glaring errors by the Pistons in this game?