Pistons hungry to turn signs of progress into sustained success
Looking at the Pistons’ 11-24 record, you could say they’ve been unsuccessful so far by most reasonable standards. But often losing brings about a level of frustration that can ultimately change the way a team performs.
While the last two losses against Utah and Los Angeles were ultimately disappointing, there were glimmers of hope and promise, yet the spotlight hasn’t dimmed on the mistakes just yet. The emergence of Tracy McGrady running the point, just one rebound shy of a triple double against Utah, is one of those glimmers. Playing a competitive first half against arguably the best team in the NBA, down by just three points after two quarters of play, is impressive. Coming back in the third quarter and allowing the Lakers to go on a 16-2 run, not so impressive. A convincing win over Boston just before the New Year in front of a packed home crowd is another affirmation that the Pistons can win games if they play on all cylinders. Still, the Pistons are sitting at 11-24 on the season.
“Losing is losing,” guard Will Bynum said after Thursday’s practice. “You don’t get better losing. It just doesn’t work like that. Right now we’re losing so we’re bad, regardless of how we think we’re playing or how people perceive we’re playing. We’re losing at the end of the day. Winning cures everything so we just have to find a way to win.”
Bynum said that he’s ready for playing time when it comes his way and is always ready for that moment that he can help bring energy to the court. “I’m full of energy, that’s my game: energy.”
The Pistons’ next chance for redemption is at home against the 76ers, similarly struggling at 14-21, Saturday night. Philly is 13½ games out of first place in the Atlantic Division but just a half-game back of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Philly will be without guard Andre Iguodala due to tendinitis in his Achilles tendon. Iguodala has been battling the injury for most of the season and has averaged 14.2 points per game, his worst since 2005-2006.
The Sixers and Pistons are pretty comparable when it comes to their depth from an offensive standpoint. Point guard, Jrue Holiday and power forward Elton Brand are both averaging around 14 points per game, comparable stats to that of Pistons starters.
John Kuester confirmed at practice on Thursday that Rodney Stuckey will be back as the starting point guard against the 76ers. Stuckey has been averaging around 15 points per game with Charlie Villenueva, Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince all right around the same mark. If Tracy McGrady and Greg Monroe continue to add points and energy off the bench, it will help give Detroit the edge in this matchup against Philly. Oh, and one more thing: Detroit needs to limit the turnovers. Like the Pistons, the Sixers struggle on the road (5-15), which is something Detroit can feed off of with the home-court advantage.
When it comes right down to it, no one is thrilled about the team’s losing record. But the flashes of positive play are making it known that the Pistons have the ability to turn things around – they just have to be consistent for all four quarters.
“We just need to play hard and play together,” Ben Gordon said, acknowledging the team’s shortcomings. “It sounds simple but that’s something we haven’t been doing collectively as a group and consistently enough to be a better team.”
Sometimes it is just as simple as that. Wins equal success.