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Pistons' second-half adjustments not enough, lose 98-89

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Detroit drops to a game and a half above Chicago for the final playoff spot in the East.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons were down by 15 at halftime and looked beat. Marcus Morris' excellent first quarter (16 of Detroit's 25 points in the quarter) was negated by the bench's poor play and the passivity of Reggie Jackson. Reggie also couldn't stay in front of J.J. Barea, who scored 17 in the first half (and 29 for the game).

After halftime, Stan Van Gundy switched up the defensive assignments, siccing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope on Barea and (essentially) hiding Reggie on Justin Anderson. The gambit worked for a while, as KCP stifled Barea defensively and Reggie energized the rest of the offense and the Pistons came back to tie it at 58-58 with five minutes to go in the third quarter.

But Reggie sat down in favor of Steve Blake, Wesley Matthews replied with back-to-back threes and the Pistons never recovered, ending the third quarter down 10, and losing by nine.

Andre Drummond had 12 points and 17 rebounds in the loss, sitting the final four minutes of the game after Rick Carlisle threatened to "Bang-A-Drum" late in the fourth quarter.

If we're being honest, a 6-3 record on a long homestand is perfectly fine. The Pistons went from out of the playoffs to in the seventh seed during the homestand, and look like a team that will make the playoffs.

But, it's games like these that don't make them look like a "playoff team."

A "playoff team" should win the closing game of a nine-game homestand against an opponent down to their third-string point guard. A "playoff team" should score more than 11 points in a quarter. And a "playoff team" damn sure shouldn't let that same third-string point guard - who flew into the city late because of the birth of his child - score 29 and bewitch them all night.

The Pistons have looked more focused on back-to-backs after a loss. Maybe that will help, because Detroit will fly out to Chicago to play the Bulls Saturday; a game with huge implications for the Eastern Conference playoffs.