Felled in Philly
Pistons sputter from the start in 21-point loss to 76ers
After having their heart removed without benefit of anesthesia in a devastating home loss Friday, Saturday’s Pistons loss saw their heart simply beat out of rhythm all night. It started early and it really never stopped.
They led from the early minutes until 1.9 seconds of regulation before losing to Atlanta in overtime at The Palace, but this time they fell behind in the early minutes – a 14-0 Philadelphia run that began with an Andre Iguodala dunk fed off the backboard to himself – and spent the rest of the night running in quicksand and growing increasingly frustrated in a 95-74 loss that puts their record at 4-17 with a welcome stretch of eight games against floundering teams looming.
“It’s all about resolve,” said Lawrence Frank, who was curious to gauge his team’s reaction to the way it lost on Friday. “That’s what we talked about before the game. It’s how you react to that. Last night’s game is over. It’s not a college season, where one game defines your season. It’s an NBA season, where you run it back the next night. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to play the type of game we wanted to play.”
Three turnovers littered their first six possessions, broken up only by a Greg Monroe jump shot and three misses at the rim. The turnovers and the paint misses have been season-long bugaboos, components that more often than not put them on their heels defending against transition chances. Atlanta hung around on Friday because it hit just enough transition 3-pointers to stay close. When the Pistons attempted to get back into it after halftime at Philly, three 76ers triples in the third quarter snuffed out their hopes.
Despite everything that went wrong in the first half, they still managed to cut a 12-point deficit to five with five minutes left, but a 6-0 Philly run quickly got it back to 11 and the Pistons never got closer than nine after that.
“I didn’t think they played a great first half, either,” Frank said. “I thought whatever team would find a rhythm early in the third quarter would get a chance to get some separation. Unfortunately, it was them.”
“It’s the same thing,” said Monroe, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds but shot just 6 of 19, many of his misses coming in the paint. “Especially me personally. I have to convert at the rim. There’s no excuse for it. It’s nothing we have to go and try to figure out. We just have to finish at the rim. We missed a lot of easy shots. They do force some turnovers, but we have to execute more, play with a better pace and convert those easy layups we were missing.”
“It’s a struggle for us to finish at the rim,” Frank said. “We have to continue to work at it in skill development work. Guys obviously don’t go in there to miss. Sometimes we’re rushing shots around the rim. We’ve shown we can do it. But we have to be consistent with it, especially if those misses at the rim turn into transition opportunities for the opponent.”
How out of sync were the Pistons? Monroe, Tayshaun Prince – back with the team after a two-game absence due to a family matter – Jason Maxiell and Austin Daye were the only players to make more than one basket in the first half, shooting a combined 13 of 25. The five other players to play in the first two quarters combined to make one shot – in 17 tries.
“We had trouble scoring tonight,” Daye said. “I think our energy just wasn’t there. We were pretty tired. That’s really not an excuse. We’ve got to be able to make plays even though we’re tired, fight through fatigue and knock down some shots. But we weren’t in a good flow tonight, it looked like.”
The Pistons hovered just above or below the 30 percent shooting mark for three quarters, but shot 9 of 19 in a fourth quarter handed over to the bench – or as much of it was Frank could hand over, given that the Pistons still only have 11 players in uniform. Lou Williams led six 76ers in double figures with 17 off the bench. Iguodala, on his 28th birthday, did the bare minimum for a triple-double – 10 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists – the first against the Pistons since LeBron James did it for the Cavs in March 2010.