The Pistons have one just won game out of their last four, and all three of those losses were blowouts. Each came against teams heading into the game below .500, including the league bottom Philadelphia 76ers.
The lone win was even an ugly one, pulling out a sloppy game against the worst in the Western Conference Dallas Mavericks.
So after last night’s ugly performance at the Palace against the Indiana Pacers, the locker room was shut off for 45 minutes longer than usual for a team meeting. From the sound of it, Stan Van Gundy was present for most as he took an extra 40 minutes to get to reporters.
The theme centered around ball movement, offensive frustrations impacting defense, and the team being at a crossroad.
Veterans Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes did most of the talking from the players’ end.
From Vince Ellis of Detroit Free Press, Stan Van Gundy offered his thoughts:
“Our offensive frustration is affecting us at the defensive end and we’re losing heart a little bit,” Van Gundy said. “That’s concerning. The offense has not been moving the way it should. The ball is not moving. I got to look at play calls and the whole thing. We went through stretches where Reggie (Jackson) made some plays in the third quarter and we were scoring, but again, what happens is, we’re scoring, but we’re trading baskets. Part of it is, we got guys upset they’re not touching the ball and everything else so they’re not as engaged in the game on the defensive end of the floor.”
Marcus Morris shared similar thoughts:
“If you have a guy wide open, he has to get the ball. It builds guys' confidence. It makes the game funner. That's just how it is. Of course some dudes are going to get more shots than other dudes. That’s how the game goes,” Morris said. “Guys are not going to respond well when they don’t get the ball when they’re open. That’s just basketball. That’s just the right way. The Spurs, Golden State, Cleveland, the top tier teams play the right way. You never win if you don’t play the right way. That’s just the bottom line.”
It’s easy to make Reggie Jackson the scapegoat here. The Pistons have struggled since his return and he led the league in unassisted buckets last season. But let’s not act like things were perfect before Jackson came back.
The Pistons were still prone to blowouts before Jackson’s December 4 return and only one game over .500. They were 25th in assist percentage at 53.4 percent before Jackson’s return and have been 25th in the league at 54.4 percent since then.
The bigger issue might have more to do with resiliency and competitiveness. If a player is so worried about their touches that they let the game slip away into a blowout, well, there’s only one direction their finger ought to be pointed.
Stan Van Gundy indicated after the game that a change might be coming in the starting lineup.
#Pistons holding team meeting in locker room 45 minutes after game ends. SVG spoke of frustration and contemplated lineup shuffle.— Keith Langlois (@Keith_Langlois) December 18, 2016
Jon Leuer has been excellent for the Pistons off the bench, so he stands to be a leading candidate once he’s ready to return from a sore back.
So it sounds like changes are coming. Hopefully the biggest one will be with the players themselves, continuing to compete even if they’re not getting their shots.
It’s easy to get frustrated after games like these and hope the team pushes the red button. But one thing to keep in mind, it’s not unusual for rebuilding teams to take a step backwards before taking the leap. Hopefully this just serves as a much-needed wakeup call.
Now your thoughts.