The Detroit Pistons final game heading into the All-Star game was a microcosm of the entire season — high powered scoring bursts, lackadaisical defense, too many jump shots, and an epic collapse.
Yes, Detroit won the game 98-91, but the team heads into the break with more questions than answers.
Early on, it looked like it was going to be a laugher as Detroit cruised to a 62-35 halftime lead. The team was led by a rejuvenated Reggie Jackson, who looked focused, aggressive and confident.
Then the second half started.
Detroit came out of the tunnel like the game was already over and Dallas decided to punch the Pistons right in the mouth.
In less than five minutes the seemingly insurmountable 27-point lead was down to 13 points. Dirk Nowitzki scored 13 points on a series of wide open shots due to some truly terrible Andre Drummond perimeter defense.
Suddenly, it seemed like a matter of when not if the collapse would be complete and the Pistons would choke away the game.
Out came Drummond and Jackson and in came Ish Smith and Aron Baynes. The offense continued to scuffle but the defense was able to turn up a few notches to stop the bleeding.
Detroit was able to limp into the fourth quarter nursing a 15-point lead. The Mavs weren’t done however, cutting the lead to nine points on a Yogi Ferrell 3-pointer with 8:28 left on the clock.
Suddenly, the Pistons best (only?) defender became the running clock. The limited time, some fortuitous Dallas misses on wide open shots, and big jumpers from Jackson allowed Detroit to stave off disaster.
Drummond had nine points and 11 rebounds. Jon Leuer chipped in an efficient 20 points on seven shots and added eight rebounds. Jackson finished with a team-high 22 points and four assists. But those points, like most of Detroit’s came off of jumpers. Detroit had only 15 assists on the night and ball movement was atrocious in the second half.
A win is a win and for a team struggling like Detroit, it needs all the wins it can get.
But coughing up such a large lead surely leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Your franchise center being limited to eight second-half minutes because he’s getting torched by a 38-year-old Dirk Nowitzki is a problem. Three assists to 12 turnovers in the second half is a huge problem.
Stan Van Gundy has an All-Star break to determine how to solve those problems. The players have the All-Star break to figure out how to turn their season around, play up to their potential and get back into the playoffs.
A win is a win. The Pistons won. The team is 27-30 and if the season ended today they would be back in the playoffs. The season’s not over. Sometimes it just feels that way.