BG: ‘Lawrence is frank’

Pistons put in a long day on eve of home opener

Ben Gordon and the rest of the team were curious to see what was in store for them in practice today.
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Greg Monroe admits it: He was curious to see how Lawrence Frank would respond in Tuesday’s practice to the across-the-board disappointment of the particulars of the Pistons’ 12-point loss at Indiana in the season opener.

“I was,” he said, after a four-hour video session and practice had wrapped up on the eve of the home opener, capped with a Frank invitation to new owner Tom Gores to address the team. “And he had the same demeanor he had throughout training camp and every other day. We went in and watched film – we know we had a bad game – saw our mistakes. Then we came out here and went to work. That’s his mind-set. Every time you come to the gym, you’ve got to work. And I think everybody did a good job of that today.”

“Lawrence is frank – no pun intended,” Ben Gordon said. “He tells you like it is. Guys have to respect that. He lets us know what we’re doing wrong – he lets you know what he’s doing wrong. We have open communication. He got on us about our effort and things we needed to do. He’s very clear.”

Long before the Pistons and Pacers tipped off, Frank had made it clear that one game was just that – one game, the first in a 66-game season and a continuing process of familiarity and evolution. He scoffed at the idea that last year’s opener – when the Pistons squandered a seven-point lead in the final 100 seconds to lose at New Jersey – began a snowball effect that overwhelmed the season.

“I think that is the most grossly overrated thing ever,” he said. “When I first took the job, all I heard about was that if we would have beaten Jersey … guess what? Philadelphia had one of the worst starts you could have. The two (overtime) losses they had to Washington, you couldn’t write them up. Bad luck. The perfect storm. And yet they came back to make the playoffs. If you allow one game to define your season, come on, now. This is the NBA. Things happen. And to pin it on one game, make or break, I don’t see it.”

The 76ers started 3-13 – under a first-year coach, Doug Collins, implementing a new system – yet ended up 41-41 before giving Miami a pretty decent tussle in the first round.

Frank’s reputation from his days in New Jersey is that he remains upbeat and focused no matter what happened the night before. He liked what he saw from the Pistons at practice – he just didn’t like what he saw firsthand the night before, when Indiana took the fight to them.

“This has nothing to do with size,” Frank said to a question of being outrebounded by the bigger Pacers. “We’ve got plenty enough to do it. This is about hitting first, about proper technique, blocking out, rebounding with five guys, having five guys in the paint. We’re capable and we’ll be much better at it.

“They practiced great. We’ve got a good group that’s prideful and that was embarrassed by what we did. They had a very spirited, energetic, competitive practice.”

Gordon has enthusiastically embraced Frank’s methods since camp opened and he liked the way Tuesday’s practice unfolded and the response he sensed from his teammates to Frank’s approach.

“We watched a lot of stuff on tape and a lot of the mistakes we were making, we realize those are things we can control,” he said. “It’s a lot different when you see things on tape and you’re able to make adjustments. I thought we had some carryover from the film session into practice. Everybody gave a great effort today and we just need to build on that and carry it over into tomorrow’s game.”

And that figures to be a game that grabs attention all around, fans curious not only to see how the Pistons respond to the disappointment of the opener but also what changes the Gores era will bring to The Palace.