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.
The Lakers scored with way too little resistance, especially early. The twin towers, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, punished the Pistons at the rim, combining for 21 points and missing just two shots in the opening quarter. The Lakers shot 65 percent in the first quarter and 62 percent in the first half. By midway through the third quarter, when the Pistons were buried by 36 points, Frank pulled his starters.
The bench, again, played hard and reasonably well for the Pistons, giving Frank something to ponder. A 7-0 personal run by Kyle Singler in the first half sparked a bench rally that saw them cut a 21-point deficit to 14. Again in the fourth quarter, when the bench took 15 points off of the Los Angeles lead, Lakers coach Mike Brown had to send Howard and Kobe Bryant back into the game.
“We know this is a building group,” Frank said. “It’s unacceptable to get your doors blown off like we did and yet we know there’s a big disparity right now between us and the Lakers. Now, there’s no excuse acceptable to not … all that second unit did is they just played hard. They left it all out there. They’re sitting in the locker room, they got nothing left. And that’s what everyone should be doing. To me, everyone has the right intent to start the game, but once they really kicked us, we didn’t do what we needed to do in terms of a response.”
Tayshaun Prince echoed his coach’s analysis.
“We didn’t come out with the energy we wanted,” he admitted. “We don’t say to ourselves, ‘We’re not going to come out with energy.’ We always come out with the right intent, but we just have a team that when teams make a run on us, we put our head down and get frustrated as opposed to playing through it. You get a team like this, they made pretty much every shot, it seemed like, in the first quarter. You’ve got to keep your wits straight and we just didn’t have it.”
Rodney Stuckey hasn’t had it in any of the three Pistons games so far, missing all six of his shots and going scoreless. Stuckey is 1 of 23 for the season, 0 of 13 in the two road games after suffering from migraine headaches that cut short his night at Phoenix on Friday. Knight, after a fine all-around game in the loss to the Suns, shot 1 of 8 with six assists and five turnovers against the Lakers.
“Whenever a player is struggling, whether it’s shooting the ball or not doing what he usually does, it’s up to the team and the coaching staff to get him involved and try to find ways to get him out of it,” Prince said. “We’ve got to do a better job of that. At the same time, Stuckey has to be aggressive, but we’ve got to get the ball in his hands more. We haven’t put it in his hands enough.”
“We need him to play better,” Frank said. “He’s been dealing with some physical problems, but we need better from everyone.”
The bench might be exempt from such an assessment. Jonas Jerebko scored 18 points and scrapped admirably. Singler finished with 11 to go with five boards and two assists. Kim English nailed two more 3-pointers and finished with eight points, while Will Bynum had 10 points and five assists. Andre Drummond had his longest NBA stint, 22 minutes, and put up five points, seven boards and two blocks, drawing a charge when he played solid post defense on Howard.
“The bench came in and played with a lot of effort,” Singler said. “We played well. We tried to cut the lead, but it was just a tough game for us all around.”
“We just try to share the ball,” Jerebko said. “We don’t really care who scores. We were just giving a lot of energy out there, trying to play hard. We played decent today, but it still didn’t help.”