True Blue Pistons - November 2012

About Keith Langlois
Award-winning journalist Keith Langlois, most recently lead sports columnist at The Oakland Press, joined Pistons.com as the web site editor on October 2, 2006. Langlois, who brings over 27 years of professional sports journalism experience to Palace Sports & Entertainment, serves as Pistons.com's official beat writer and covers the team on a daily basis.

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Posted Friday, November 30, 2012

MEMPHIS – The team with the NBA’s best record doesn’t require much help winning at home, where the Memphis Grizzlies were 7-1 before the Pistons rolled into town. The Pistons gave them that help, anyway.

Undermining their chances to win on a night they were otherwise capable of an eyebrow-raising upset, the Pistons gave the ball back to Memphis 13 times in the first half alone, good for 22 points. Just when they cleaned things up, forging a 57-all tie with Memphis over the first six minutes of the third quarter when they turned it over not at all, their need for holiday giving returned in force.

On consecutive possessions, the Pistons coughed it up and Memphis, now a league-best 12-2, converted each one into three-point trips – a layup and free throw by Mike Conley off a Kyle Singler pass, then a Conley triple off a Jason Maxiell bobble – and suddenly it was a six-point deficit again. So many times, Memphis baskets off turnovers came seconds after the Pistons appeared to be about to score themselves.

“That’s what killed us tonight,” Greg Monroe lamented after his 17-point, nine-rebound night went to waste in part because he was guilty of seven turnovers. “We have to find a way to convert those plays and if we don’t turn it over as many times as we do, we probably give ourselves a better chance.”

The Pistons committed 22 for the game, good for 31 Memphis points, a 21-point edge over the output they managed off 12 Memphis turnovers. On a night both teams struggled to score in their half-court offense, that type of disparity was even more glaring.

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MEMPHIS – The Pistons have their first winning streak of the season. A modest two-gamer, but a winning streak nonetheless. Pushing it any farther won’t be easy, given that the next step comes on the road against arguably the NBA’s best team of the season’s first month, but Corey Maggette wanted to make sure the Pistons maximized their odds.

That’s what you witnessed, if you were at The Palace on Wednesday and lingered past the final horn of the Pistons’ 40-point win over Phoenix. It was at Maggette’s behest that the Pistons gathered at center court for a group huddle before heading to their locker room.

“I brought the guys to center court because it’s important,” Maggette said. “We have a winning streak. It’s important to see what we did, the things we have accomplished. Now we can build on that. I think it’s important for our team to know that.”

Maggette, a 14-year veteran, came to the Pistons last June intent on shouldering a leadership burden. He’s the longest-tenured NBA player on the roster and, along with Tayshaun Prince, the only 30-something the Pistons employ.

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Posted Thursday, November 29, 2012

One change, one dramatic new look. With only one alteration to the starting lineup incurred, the Pistons appear to have found the right balance between first and second units, between scoring and defending – and between winning more and losing less.

Greater change comes below the surface. The only constant to the second unit from the start of November to its end: rookie Andre Drummond.

Rodney Stuckey asked to come off the bench in favor of Kyle Singler, the one tweak Lawrence Frank has made to the starting lineup. Charlie Villanueva moved in behind Jason Maxiell at power forward in place of Jonas Jerebko and Corey Maggette recovered from a leg injury that cost him the season’s first seven games.

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Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It took Lawrence Frank 24 games to mix the parts in the proper combinations and amounts for optimal results. It’s too soon to say if he’s there after 16 games in his second time around, but things are certainly trending in the right direction.

Since moving Kyle Singler into the starting lineup, the Pistons are 5-3. And on the night they crushed Phoenix 117-77 – their first 40-point win since 2007 – to extend their Palace winning streak to four games, he trimmed his rotation by one and the results were encouraging, to say the least.

An engaged Rodney Stuckey is critical to the Pistons realizing their potential, and by going to a three-guard rotation – Stuckey off the bench behind Singler and Brandon Knight, backing up at both spots – Frank is banking on more minutes and more chances with the ball in his hands awakening the aggressive scorer within Stuckey.

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Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2012

There is no magic number for how deep an NBA rotation should go. The same coach who plays seven or eight players under one set of circumstances might go 10 or 11 deep under another.

Lawrence Frank, in fact, did just that over his time with New Jersey.

As the Pistons push along in their quest to establish the identity Frank desires, the rotation remains in flux. For all the consternation over who should start in the backcourt or when Andre Drummond should move in alongside Greg Monroe for the opening tip, a fixed rotation is really the greater challenge for an NBA head coach than identifying the five players who start.

“It’s all based on the game – it’s based on guys’ performance,” Frank said after Wednesday’s shootaround and before tonight’s game with Phoenix. “I don’t think you can just have a rote script, especially when you’re a team like ours.”

One notable change to look for tonight, perhaps: Rodney Stuckey will more than likely be the backup point guard in the first half. And from there, well, stay tuned …

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Posted Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When opportunity arrived at Kyle Singler’s door, he answered before the knock echoed down the hallway.

Singler’s place in the starting lineup was supposed to last one game, or however long it took Rodney Stuckey to shake the flu bug. It would have, by all accounts, if Stuckey – after watching Singler’s immense contributions as the Pistons notched their first win to snap an eight-game skid at Philadelphia on Nov. 14 – hadn’t volunteered to come off the bench.

It seemed reasonable to assume, at that point, that shooting guard would turn into a job-sharing assignment for Singler and Stuckey, the pair roughly splitting minutes. It might even have turned out that Singler would become a token starter, in the manner of the rotating cast of shooting guards San Antonio has employed over the years to allow Gregg Popovich to continue bringing Manu Ginobili off the bench for 30-plus minutes a night.

Fat chance, that.

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Posted Monday, November 26, 2012

Another night, another testament to a better Pistons future. Brandon Knight won by unanimous decision in his head-to-head battle with the runaway favorite for NBA rookie of the year and Greg Monroe and Kyle Singler put up double-doubles as the Pistons won their third straight home game, 108-101 over Portland.

Combined NBA experience for that core trio coming into the season: Monroe’s two seasons and Knight’s lockout-abbreviated rookie campaign.

The road back to respectability starts with beating sub.-500 teams regularly at home, but it’s not an easy step when a team relies on as many young players as the Pistons have enlisted as their future. After losing their first three Palace games – all after taking double-digit leads in the second half – the Pistons have now pulled even at home and are 4-3 since their dizzying 0-8 start with a road-heavy schedule.

“You always want to take care of home court,” Knight said after a season-high 26 points, scored with aggressiveness and efficiency. “That’s key. When teams come here, they have to know that they’re going to be in for a fight and know they’re going to have to play close to a perfect game to get out of here with a win.”

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Posted Sunday, November 25, 2012

For the first 17 minutes, the Pistons reduced the Knicks to a jump-shooting team. They shot those jumpers with frightening efficiency, scoring 32 points in the first quarter to take a 10-point lead. If only the Pistons had continued to force contested jump shots, it might have turned out differently on a Sunday afternoon on basketball’s grandest stage, Madison Square Garden.

Within four points seven minutes before halftime, the Pistons saw their defense disintegrate. Over the final 13 possessions of the first half, with the Pistons misfiring or turning the ball over as their offense stagnated, the Knicks scored on all but two trips – one turnover and one missed shot. Except for a last shot of the half missed by Anthony, the Knicks scored 17 points on their final seven possessions – three wide-open triples, three layups among them.

“How many minutes of defense did we play? I don’t know,” Lawrence Frank said, “but I know it’s not nearly good enough.”

Anthony was unguardable in the early going, raining threes from well beyond the arc. Among his 29 points, Anthony hit 4 of 5 from behind the 3-point line. He had plenty of co-stars on offense for the Knicks, who gored the Pistons from the 3-point line.

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Posted Friday, November 23, 2012

The Pistons haven’t been able to put together much in the way of streaks this season, befitting a team with the 2-10 record they lugged into Friday’s match with Toronto. Now they have a streak to their credit. A modest one, perhaps, but a streak they’ll wear proudly.

Powered by their young core of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight – with a huge stabilizing push from Tayshaun Prince – the Pistons squandered a 13-point second-half lead but came back from five points behind late and won 91-90 for their second straight home win.

“It was a character game,” Will Bynum said. “It’s a game of runs. Toronto made a great run and we did a great job of responding back. It was extremely important. Brandon played great down the stretch and Tayshaun made some great shots. It was great to see because the previous games we’ve been struggling with that.”

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Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ORLANDO – Maybe the Pistons got into the turkey at halftime of their Thanksgiving eve game. A tryptophan-induced turkey overdose is as good an explanation as any for what happened to open the third quarter at Amway Center, otherwise known as the Nightmare Before Thanksgiving.

“I wish I could explain it to you,” Lawrence Frank said after the 90-74 loss in which the Pistons missed 32 of 35 shots to open the second half. “I can’t.”

The Pistons led by three at halftime and surely felt like they should have been up even more. Greg Monroe owned Orlando’s frontcourt, posting 11 points and six rebounds in the first quarter alone and finishing the half with 15 points. But an early 10-point lead melted away and they settled for the 48-45 halftime edge.

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Posted Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ORLANDO – The word that best describes NBA reaction to Jack Taylor’s 138-point outburst: wonderment.

Part admiration for the Grinnell College sophomore’s audacity, part curiosity over the system that enabled his feat, part skepticism about the engagement of rival Faith Baptist.

“I feel like that’s impossible,” Greg Monroe said after the Pistons’ Wednesday morning shootaround for tonight’s game with Orlando. “He played 35 minutes. How many shots per minute are you getting up? (The answer: three) That’s crazy.”

“I never thought we’d see a game where somebody would take (108) field goals,” Will Bynum said. “That’s crazy. Seventy-one 3-pointers? I want to see the video of that game.”

Taylor shot 52 of 108 from the field, including making 27 of 71 3-point shots. He recorded zero assists. The rest of the Grinnell starting five combined to take just nine shots.

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Posted Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In step with the arc of his career, Greg Monroe has registered dramatically better numbers over his last three games than he put up in the season’s first three. Those first three games: 10.7 points. 7.0 rebounds, 1.7 assists. The last three: 20.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists.

Throw out the first three games, in fact, and Monroe’s averages for the season would be 19.1 points. 10. 9 rebounds and 4.0 assists. He shot 40 percent in the first three games, 52.2 percent since and 61.5 percent over the last three.

“Just got into a better rhythm,” he said after Tuesday’s practice before the Pistons departed for Orlando and their Thanksgiving eve game with the Magic. “The game becomes a little bit easier. I feel like I’m in a good place right now, but it’s more importantly about the whole team and not about me individually. I’m trying to do whatever I can to help my team win.”

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Posted Monday, November 19, 2012

Lawrence Frank hasn’t committed to making the move to Kyle Singler in the starting lineup and Rodney Stuckey to the bench permanent. The Pistons’ rotation has been in flux throughout the first 11 games and – chances are, Frank says – will be for quite some time.

“Not until we start defending better,” he said Monday, a day after a 20-point win over Boston in which the Pistons defended well. But that game followed arguably the Pistons’ worst defensive game, 110 points surrendered to Orlando, which came on the heels of holding Philadelphia to 76 points and under 30 percent shooting. “If we can get our defense where it needs to be. Until then, we’ve just got to keep on searching for different answers to get our defense right.”

In three starts, Singler has scored 16, 14 and 14 points and made better than half his shots. Two or three times a game, Singler will score an easy basket off of nothing more than sheer, focused hustle. His constant motion, cutting in the half-court offense or filling a lane harder than most in transition, makes him a frequent target for teammates’ passes.

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Posted Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Pistons trailed by five on another night their opponent was shooting an absurdly high percentage. It was late in the first quarter, this two nights after an offensively limited Orlando team blitzed the Pistons with 48 points in the game’s final 15 minutes, and Boston was the latest team that was scoring baskets against limited resistance.

Lawrence Frank puts his stock in defense. When his offense is struggling, he looks to his defense to jump start things. On this night, it was their offense that jump started the Pistons defensively. More accurately, it was their offensive rebounding. More precisely, it was Jason Maxiell’s offensive rebounding – his flat-out force of will.

First Corey Maggette missed a 3-pointer. Maxiell chased down the rebound. Then Will Bynum missed a jump shot. This time Rodney Stuckey grabbed the carom, but missed a short follow attempt. Maxiell, again, all elbows and flailing arms, ripped the ball away from Boston’s Chris Wilcox and forced him to foul. What had been a lethargic crowd roared approval as Maxiell went to the free-throw line.

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Posted Friday, November 16, 2012

Pesky all game, like a mosquito that takes bedtime bombing raids every time sleep is at hand, the Orlando Magic appeared to have been swatted away by the Pistons, at last, late in the third quarter. First Tayshaun Prince and then Greg Monroe punished them around the rim, and Monroe’s basket with under three minutes to go put the Pistons ahead by 13.

Perhaps the Pistons thought the same thing, to their peril. Instead, Orlando – a limited offensive team and a franchise rebuilding in the wake of Dwight Howard’s departure – scored an unimaginable 48 points in the final 15 minutes of the game to win 110-106.

One game after the Pistons held Philadelphia under 30 percent shooting to win by 18 on the road, they suffered their most disheartening loss of a season that’s already had too many of them. The Pistons are now 1-9, including a 0-3 home record in which they’ve lost double-digit second-half leads in all.

“I guess we need these lessons to remind us what it’s going to take to win,” Lawrence Frank said. “You score 106 points, shoot 53 percent from the field and lose the game.”

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Until they did it at Philadelphia to emphatically capture the season’s first win, the Pistons hadn’t held an opponent under 30 percent shooting since April 11, 2008.

Those Pistons represented the guts of the group that competed in six straight conference finals. Ben Wallace was gone, but their starting lineup that night consisted of Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess, Tayshaun Prince, Chancey Billups and Tayshaun Prince.

The current Pistons, Prince the exception, don’t have anywhere near the defensive pedigree that bunch had, mostly because for so many their resumes have only started to be written. But Lawrence Frank preaches it and Jason Maxiell embodies it: defense is mostly mind-set.

“It was all mental,” Maxiell said of the anemic 29.8 percent shooting Philadelphia managed as the Pistons won by 18 points Wednesday night in holding the 76ers to … 76, fittingly enough. “We came in with the mind-set we were hungry for a win, so we have to do everything we can – no points in the paint, no transition. When they turn the ball over, attack on the offensive end.”

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Posted Thursday, November 15, 2012

There might come a time when Lawrence Frank decides Kyle Singler should be a Pistons starter, but it’s not today. Rodney Stuckey, back at practice Thursday after missing Tuesday’s session and Wednesday’s game at Philadelphia due to illness, remains the starter next to Brandon Knight in the backcourt.

Under normal circumstances, there wouldn’t be much about that fact to qualify it as news. Bona fide starters who miss a game and are ready to return invariably remain starters.

What makes this case at least semi-unique is this: Singler played a team-high 40 minutes and scored 16 points in a game the Pistons won, on the road, after eight consecutive losses to open their season.

And it wasn’t a hang-on-by-your-fingernails win, either. It came against a rising Eastern Conference opponent coming off back-to-back playoff appearances and considered a solid bet to make it three straight. The Pistons led by 18 at halftime and by 23 midway through the fourth quarter. It wasn’t a win, it was a masterpiece.

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Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PHILADELPHIA – In the birthplace of democracy, the Pistons used a most democratic approach to record their first victory of the season. Up and down the roster, you couldn’t find a player who didn’t do his part in a thoroughly convincing 94-76 win over a presumed Eastern Conference playoff team.

“It’s the formula for winning,” Lawrence Frank said of the across-the-board contributions the Pistons received on a night Rodney Stuckey was down with the flu and Kyle Singler made a smashing starting debut. “Holding them under 30 percent was tremendous. High assists, outrebounded them, got to the free-throw line. Everyone who played contributed. It shows what we’re capable of doing.”

Except for a sluggish start – the Pistons had three quick turnovers and missed three of their first four shots – it was pretty much a wire-to-wire win. The Pistons took the lead for good on a Greg Monroe layup to make it 17-15 with 3:36 left in the first quarter, stretched the lead to six by the end of the quarter, to 18 by halftime and to 23 in the fourth quarter.

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Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PHILADELPHIA – During Saturday’s Alabama-Texas A&M game, as the Aggies built a stunning early lead, CBS analyst Gary Danielson told a national audience that when the Crimson Tide were rolling, that’s when celebrated coach Nick Saban was likelier to get after them. When things were playing out against them, that’s when he turned to cheerleader.

Football isn’t basketball and college kids aren’t paid professionals, but the message resonates with Lawrence Frank as the Pistons are mired in a 0-8 start heading into tonight’s game at Philadelphia.

“It’s always easier to be harder when you’re winning,” Frank said after the morning shootaround at the Wells Fargo Center. “The reality is you learn from losing, you really do. When you win, guys naturally feel good about themselves but there’s also a complacency element. That’s when, as a coach, you’re on them harder.”

But it’s a balancing act, too.

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Posted Tuesday, November 12, 2012

They say the NBA schedule evens out in the end, and to the extent that everyone plays 82 games – half at home, half on the road – in the same amount of days, give or take one or two over a 5½-month span, they’re right.

But not really. The Orlando Magic, for example, will play a league-low 13 back-to-back sets of games this season, while in their own division Atlanta and Charlotte will play 22 such sets. The Pistons, as they usually do, come in toward the higher end with 19 back-to-back sets.

They’ve got two down already, which is no surprise. The Pistons have played eight games. Nobody has played more and only Denver can match the Pistons’ six road games logged already.

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Posted Monday, November 12, 2012

Since the Pistons last played The Palace, their clocks and their calendars have been changed. Alas, their win total has remained fixed. At zero.

The Pistons could see daylight at the end of the tunnel Monday night – until Oklahoma City buried them under the avalanche of a 17-2 run to open the fourth quarter, wiping out an 11-point lead built with their season’s best defensive effort.

Through three quarters, Oklahoma City All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were shooting a combined 13 for 37, forced to work for every one of their 34 points. But the fourth quarter started poorly and quickly got worse. The Pistons missed their first nine shots and 15 of their first 16, falling four points behind until Rodney Stuckey helped them regain their equilibrium with consecutive baskets.

The Pistons actually regained the lead twice – at 83-81 on a 3-pointer by Brandon Knight with 3:12 to play and again at 85-84 on Jason Maxiell’s put-back basket with 2:44 left.

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Posted Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lawrence Frank has proceeded with care where the inevitable pairing of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond is concerned. This, by all available evidence, is to the great consternation of Pistons fans.

Even in Houston in Saturday’s loss to the Rockets, two minutes into the game a leather-lunged fan seated a few dozen rows behind Detroit’s bench yelled for Frank to put Drummond in the game.

Frank has called the more regular tandem use of Monroe, 6-foot-11 and 22, with Drummond, a 19-year-old 7-footer, ideal. He’s said it will happen. He’s called it their future. The future is close. But it is not right now, necessarily.

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Posted Saturday, November 10, 2012

HOUSTON – The Pistons hit the road and the road hit back. Though they weren’t necessarily favored to win any of the six games on the season’s longest road trip, coming home without a win to show for it – and a record of 0-7 to tie a franchise low – can’t be anything but dispiriting.

“Extremely, extremely disappointing,” Lawrence Frank said.

“I’m shocked,” Tayshaun Prince said. “Because we put so much work into what we’ve done through training camp and preseason. We went at each other so hard in training camp. Things were getting better and better each day. And to regress now that we’re playing is just tough to swallow.”

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Posted Friday, November 9, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY – If the Pistons are as right about Andre Drummond as they fully believe, then you might want to mark down the date and time that their next generation was launched: With 2:51 left in the third quarter on Nov. 9, 2012, Lawrence Frank sent Greg Monroe in for Jason Maxiell, pairing Monroe with Andre Drummond for the first time in a regular-season NBA game.

The Pistons were 12 points behind the reigning Western Conference champions at the time. They immediately went on a 9-0 run, Monroe’s keen passing eye finding Drummond for consecutive layups and Drummond’s athleticism producing a steal that created a dunk for Monroe.

A rash of early fourth-quarter turnovers robbed the Pistons of their chance for a major upset against a team with perhaps the best home-court advantage in the NBA, but they made the Thunder sweat in a 105-94 game in which Drummond will cause buzzing around NBA front offices. His 22 points were a career high and he added eight rebounds, a block and a steal while also hitting 6 of 9 free throws.

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Posted Thursday, November 8, 2012

OKLAHOMA CITY – Back in 1976 for George Blaha’s first road trip as Pistons broadcaster, he walked into the team hotel lobby and ran into Bob Lanier and Chris Ford, faces of the franchise. Welcome to the team, they told him, you’re one of us.

“Both went on to become NBA head coaches and Bob a very deserving Hall of Famer,” Blaha said. “From that day forward, I was a players’ guy.”

Maybe it was that reputation over his 38 seasons courtside calling play by play on radio and TV that landed Blaha on the Sports Illustrated list of the top 15 NBA broadcasters in a poll of current players conducted after last season.

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Posted Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Pistons could neither celebrate nor savor Greg Monroe’s triple-double at Sacramento, the rare feat of a center accomplishing what’s usually reserved for ball-dominant playmakers dulled because their defense again betrayed them.

Rebounding is often discussed separately from defense, but the Pistons’ 0-5 start should serve as a bleak reminder that a defensive possession isn’t complete until a defensive rebound is secured. And the Pistons in the early going have been worst in the NBA at the task of accomplishing the final stage of defensive possessions.

To be sure, the Pistons have other issues they must address defensively, starting with keeping ballhandlers from penetrating the middle. But the most stark evidence of their defensive shortcomings is their defensive rebounding percentage, which with Wednesday’s loss at Sacramento sunk below 60 percent.

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Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2012

SACRAMENTO – Greg Monroe’s triple-double was really a quadruple-double. He was in double digits in frustration along with points, rebounds and assists.

Four games into a six-game road trip, five games into a season still in search of its first win, the only solace a stat sheet can now provide the Pistons is when it shows their point total as greater than that of their opponent.

“We got really close, but we have to find a way to push through,” Monroe said after the first triple-double of both his career and the NBA season: 21 points, 12 boards, 11 assists. “We did a lot of things well, but we have to focus on the defensive end. Like coach Frank said, we scored over 100 points; we should win the game. That’s point blank. So we have to find a way to focus on defense.”

Frank deflected any attempt to steer the line of postgame questioning from any attempt to talk about an impressive offensive showing in a 105-103 loss to Sacramento to what he saw as flawed defense.

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Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DENVER – It was midway through the third quarter when Jason Maxiell’s 15-foot jump shot brought the Pistons all square with Denver at 67. When JaVale McGee missed on Denver’s end and the Pistons pushed ahead in transition, they had a chance to take the lead. Instead, a turnover and a Danilo Gallinari 3-pointer later, they were down again and on their way to a 109-97 loss.

Story of the game: missed opportunities. It wasn’t nearly the across-the-board breakdown that undermined whatever chance the Pistons had to beat the winless Lakers two nights earlier, but in the areas where the Pistons – still winless themselves, now 0-4 – did break down, they were back breakers.

Denver did what the Nuggets do – shot 3-pointers with impunity (30 of ’em, making 10), ran and got into the paint. They scored 56 of their points there, too many of them after grabbing a whopping 21 offensive rebounds. The Nuggets also scored 19 points off of 15 Pistons turnovers.

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Posted Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DENVER – The Pistons have something of a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum going with their offense as they sit at 0-3 heading into tonight’s game at Denver: Is Greg Monroe struggling to score inside because guards Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight are shooting a combined 20.7 percent? Or are Stuckey and Knight misfiring so frequently because Monroe, a .530 career shooter, is making only 40 percent of his shots?

Lawrence Frank’s answer: You’re looking at the wrong end of the floor. The results of Sunday’s loss to the Lakers still had him grimacing as he ticked off some of the critical statistics, including the most galling: 28 of the 42 baskets the Pistons surrendered came within 3 feet of the rim.

“If a team is scoring 3 feet and in consistently, you’re taking the ball out of the net every time,” he said after Tuesday’s shootaround at the Pepsi Center for tonight’s game with 0-3 Denver, playing its home opener. “When they’re not scoring 3 feet and in, if you’re fouling them, you’re going against a set defense with length in (Pau) Gasol and (Dwight) Howard. We have to rely on great spacing, ball movement, player movement, extra pass, best shot mentality, agenda-free basketball. That’s what it comes down to.”

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Posted Monday, November 5, 2012

DENVER – If you’re not following along with your pocket schedule as this eternal Pistons road trip bumps along, let me catch you up to date. They’ve left the frying pan, headed for the fire.

A day after playing the 0-3 and angry Los Angeles Lakers, the Pistons headed east for a Tuesday date with the 0-3 and peeved Denver Nuggets. That starts a stretch of four games in five nights. Yeah, life isn’t presenting the Pistons any breaks as they scramble to crawl out of the 0-3 hole in which their 2012-13 season presently sits.

The Pistons lost double-digit leads against both Houston and Phoenix, but never gave themselves a chance in Sunday’s loss to the Lakers. They fell behind by 21 points after a quarter and were 36 down midway through the third when Lawrence Frank yanked his starters and let an energetic second unit play it out.

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Posted Sunday, November 4, 2012

LOS ANGELES – Lawrence Frank predicted before the game that the Lakers – objects of strenuous analysis in Southern California, where there is no NFL team to distract them in the autumn months – were unlikely to go 0-82 this season.

They probably aren’t going 1-81, either. There didn’t appear to be much wrong with them off of Sunday’s performance, which saw them lead the Pistons 34-13 after one quarter on their way to a 108-79 rout that leaves the Pistons 0-3 and gave the embattled Lakers their first win in four tries.

“It was total domination,” Lawrence Frank said on a night the Pistons didn’t place one starter in double figures – the first time that’s happened to them since Dec. 1, 2010 in a loss to Miami – and the starting five was outscored by Lakers starters 81-27.

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Posted Saturday, November 3, 2012

WESTWOOD, Calif. – The Pistons are 0-2, the Lakers 0-3. Guess which story is drawing more attention?

After somehow adding both Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to the Kobe Bryant-Pau Gasol core over the off-season despite being hopelessly capped out, the Lakers were supposed to win 70 games … in the minds of Lakers fans, at least.

So starting 0-3 for the first time in 34 years has registered on Richter scales in La-La Land.

And now it goes beyond the losses. Nash has a small leg fracture; he’ll miss at least the next week. Howard had off-season back surgery but played heavy minutes in the first two losses; he played only 30 in Friday’s loss and wasn’t himself. Bryant has been limping on a sore foot; he scored 40 points against the Clippers on Friday but left in a walking boot.

Oh, and Mike Brown has a warm posterior, the result of the seat on which the embattled Lakers coach sits getting a little toasty.

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Posted Friday, November 2, 2012

PHOENIX – The Pistons found something more arid than the Phoenix climate: their jump shots. Rodney Stuckey missed all seven of his shots before leaving midway through the third quarter with a thunderous headache. Greg Monroe missed seven straight at one point and finished 5 of 17.

So the Pistons lug an 0-2 record with them to Los Angeles, where they’ll play the 0-3 Lakers on Sunday in the second of a six-game road trip that won’t end well if the Pistons don’t find their offense – or learn how to better deal with the frustration that missing an endless string of makeable shots engenders.

“It definitely can (be frustrating) if you let it get to you,” said Brandon Knight after the Pistons shot 41 percent and lost 92-89. “But the good teams, they don’t allow that to hinder what they do offensively or defensively. They just play.”

It was Knight who missed the game’s last shot, a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Pistons probably had no business being in that position – they trailed by nine with two minutes left and by eight to 10 for most of the second half. A Kyle Singler triple with 4.2 seconds left pulled the Pistons within two and the tie became possible when Sebastian Telfair split a pair of free throws with 3.6 seconds left.

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When the only two 30-somethings on the Pistons first came into the league, the NBA West was the go-go conference and the East was all bump and grind.

Thirteen years after Corey Maggette was drafted and 10 years since Tayshaun Prince joined the Pistons, not much has changed in their eyes.

“From what I’m accustomed to, the Western Conference tries to get up quicker, get shots up quicker,” Prince said before the Pistons embarked on a six-game road trip West, part of a schedule segment that sees them open the season with eight consecutive games against Western Conference opponents. “Eastern Conference teams, more of a slower pace, trying to find loopholes in your defense. It’s always been like that since I’ve been playing and I don’t find it any different as of yet.”

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Posted Thursday, November 1, 2012

One of the qualities that endeared both Kyle Singler and Kim English to the Pistons over the course of their four-year college careers was the sheer competitive drive. So it won’t surprise anyone at 6 Championship Drive that the season-opening loss to Houston cast a pall on their otherwise successful debuts.

But their performances as primary backups to Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey were among the bright spots of the 105-96 defeat. English scored eight points in 14 minutes with three assists. Singler scored 10 points in 16 minutes with a couple of rebounds and a blocked shot.

“I’m so in tune to the game plan and executing that the spectacle kind of got lost,” English said after Thursday’s practice and just before the rookies headed out on their first extended NBA road trip, a 10-day journey that will take them to six Western Conference cities. “It was a great night other than the loss. That was a big blemish for the fans and us. We played a solid game until that last 12 minutes, so it hurts.”

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