Three straight blowouts. Four of them in the past five games. And the latest one coming after a team meeting. Stan Van Gundy’s post game comments were going to be coming in hot.
And yes they were.
Pistons LIVE Postgame - 12.19.16 - Stan Van Gundy pic.twitter.com/O3zqo2b19K— FOX Sports Detroit (@FOXSportsDet) December 20, 2016
In usual SVG form, he didn’t pull punches. But the most noteworthy comments came after whether a lineup change was still an option. Van Gundy responded, "Well, it’s just a matter of who now. I guarantee you on Wednesday night we’re not trotting that five out there again."
It was interesting that the starting five did indeed return after halftime, the whole unit playing most of the first six minutes together. After they failed to make a dent in the Bulls’ huge lead, Van Gundy cleared the bench.
Jon Leuer seems the obvious choice to jump into the starting unit. He’s been consistently excellent this season, and was so again tonight scoring 16 points on 7-9 shooting and 5 rebounds. He’d likely replace either Marcus Morris or Tobias Harris.
But Reggie Jackson’s situation with the team is also an interesting one. The team meeting after Saturday night’s game was a thinly veiled venting session against the point guard’s ball dominance, and Jackson seemed to rebel against that tonight. Jackson didn’t take his first shot until 4:39 left in the second quarter, taking a back seat in the offense despite the team falling into a deep hole.
When asked about Jackson’s reluctance to shoot Van Gundy said, "That wasn’t us, that was him."
For Jackson’s part, here are his postgame comments:
Pistons LIVE Postgame - 12.19.16 - Reggie Jackson pic.twitter.com/HSd0Or5LnQ— FOX Sports Detroit (@FOXSportsDet) December 20, 2016
Jackson said, "I tried to move the ball. We had a meeting and ball movement with the thought of us playing defense. So I just tried to help promote ball movement. Coach’s play call I think tried to help promote it, got the ball to the other guys early. Unfortunately, we still didn’t do anything on defense and offensively we never got going."
Reasonable words, but honestly Jackson had the sound of a fella who’s been beat up. It seems like he’s been made the scapegoat of the losing skid and that he’s feeling it. And that’s really not fair to him. This team has had issues with ball movement and keeping contact when the other team starts to pull away far before Jackson came back.
As I mentioned the other day, the Pistons 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. Jackson ain’t the problem.
Still, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll get the hook for Ish Smith on Wednesday too. Ish did step in during the third and get a little momentum going for the Pistons with his energy and pace.
In all, it has the sound of a team in turmoil. It’s disappointing, as the Pistons have a solid fit and no shortage of talent - something that can be said for the first time in quite a long time. But their issues seem to be interpersonal. If they’re going to hit their potential, they’re going to have to sort it out.