Losing to a five-win San Antonio Spurs team is bad enough. The worst part of the night was just how thoroughly uncompetitive it was. The Spurs outclassed the Detroit Pistons from the jump ball in their 130-108 blowout win over Detroit.
The only questions, really, are, how was it ever expected to work, and when is something finally going to change? I’m not even talking about big changes. I’m talking about trying out different lineup combinations or players in the rotation. It just doesn’t seem like what Monty Williams is rolling out has any chance.
Maybe no lineup combos would be competitive. Maybe it’ll take the return of Isaiah Stewart and especially Cade Cunningham to give the team a shot.
How is a starting lineup featuring Killian Hayes and Isaiah Livers supposed to generate offense or open looks for Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jalen Duren? How can a defense with those players be expected to get consistent stops?
The bench lineup of James Wiseman, Marcus Sasser, and Joe Harris was equally questionable. Wiseman couldn’t rebound, Sasser couldn’t run the offense, and Harris couldn’t guard.
Both sides knew it, so you had Spurs players easily getting to their spots and the Pistons players exhibiting no energy on either end, seemingly accepting defeat before the first whistle sounded.
It was a sleepy performance from Detroit that gave the crowd little to cheer for. The biggest applause of the night came on Victor Wembanayama baskets, the halftime entertainment, and the surprise appearance of the national champion Michigan football team.
Sadly, having true winners in the building didn’t seem to inspire the players much. The Pistons were on the losing end of every hustle stat. Outscored in the paint, in the steals department, in fastbreak points, at the free-throw line, and in second-chance points.
Wembanyama recorded his first career triple-double and finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, and he did it in only 21 minutes. The Pistons at least made him work in the first quarter by consistently pushing him out of the paint and attacking rebounds to limit his second-chance-point opportunities. But all that melted away once the Spurs started to hit some jump shots consistently.
The fact that the Spurs could rest their top pick at the 6-minute mark of the fourth quarter was just the latest embarrassment in this sorry Pistons season. The Spurs were led by big-bodied Keldon Johnson with 17 points off the bench.
Bojan Bogdanovic and Jaden Ivey scored 19 points apiece for Detorit. Of course, Bojan also committed four turnovers as every time he drove the lane turned either into a tough make at the rim (good) or a pass directly to the opponent (bad). Most of Ivey’s damage was done in garbage time.
Jalen Duren got the green light to playmake a little more, and the results were mixed to poor. He finished with 21 points and too many forced shots. We will see if this is an aberration or the start of allowing the young guys to try new things and make plenty of mistakes.
At least it’s something different, I guess.
One thing that both Monty Williams and Jalen Duren agreed with during the post-game press conferences was that the fundamental problems were a lack of energy, effort, and focus. However, I’m not sure either has any idea how this coaching staff and this group of players can resolve the issue.