Offensive tailspin leads to 6th straight Pistons loss as late rally stalls
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DETROIT – Stan Van Gundy would balk if you said what he did after Sunday’s loss to Boston – the sixth straight for a Pistons team going through about as rough a stretch of schedule as any NBA team will traverse this season – was amateur psychology. He’d call it hard-core reality.
But he gave his team a message after the 91-81 loss in which the Pistons simply could not make a shot for agonizingly long stretches of the game – most notably, the start of the third quarter when they went five minutes without scoring and saw a seven-point halftime deficit swell to 17.
“I said to ’em after the game, if you just put up the whole season on the board and took our wins and took our losses, who they’re to and how the games played out, and you were at 14 and 12 – I asked if you were getting ready to play a team 14 and 12, these were their wins, these were their close losses, what would you feel like?”
And then he answered his own question.
“You’d feel like you were playing a pretty good team. But because six of ’em are in a row – the schedule’s not balanced out – then you start to feel like you can’t play. I think we’ve lost some confidence and some spirit and we’ve got to get it back. We’ve got to gain a new perspective. We can come through this. We knew we were going to play a month – from the middle of November on – unlike anybody else in the NBA. We knew it. So we started it well and have not played well enough now. But we can come through it and get it back.”
The locker room seemed to embrace that message, too, because it wasn’t the somber place it was after losses to San Antonio, Milwaukee and Golden State last week. The Pistons had a surreal shooting experience against Boston, Reggie Jackson’s horrific 0 of 9 line the embodiment of their frustration. More than half of Jackson’s shots rattled in and out and all of them were quality looks.
“It gets frustrating, dropping six in a row,” Jackson admitted after both he and Andre Drummond – held to six points and 15 rebounds 13 days after putting up 26 and 22 at Boston in a 118-108 win that was the polar opposite in style and result – were slapped with technical fouls. “But the sky’s not falling. We had some mistakes, some things we’ve got to learn from, but other than that we’re good. I think we’re still pretty positive.
“Once we came back (to the locker room) and, I guess, had quick moments of sulking and letting it all sink in that it was another tough loss despite how hard we played, I think we also take it in that we’re still a great team in our eyes. We still play extremely hard, we still play together. We’ve just got to shore up some things and find a way to end up on the other side of the line of wins and losses.”
Tobias Harris, whose two fourth-quarter threes led a 12-0 run that saw the Pistons pull within four with four minutes to play and electrify Little Ceasars Arena, sounded a similar note.
“We’re as frustrated as we are because these are games we believe we should be victorious in,” he said. “It would be different if we were on a six-game losing streak and teams were blasting us by 20, 30 points. But it’s not the case. We’ve been in pretty much every game down to the wire. That’s the most frustrating part. But with that being said, I think it’s something that if we can begin to get on a run here and just collect wins and put ’em together, we’ll look back on it and it will help us for where we need to go.”
The Pistons get another quality team next when Denver – with the same 14-12 record as the Pistons following Sunday’s overtime loss at Indiana – comes to Little Caesars on Tuesday. But the schedule starts to lighten a little with just one of the next five currently holding a winning record.
“I kept saying things can change quickly in this league,” Van Gundy said of the warnings he issued when the Pistons opened 10-3. “And they can. And they have on us right now. But they can change quickly back the other way, too. What I’m trying to do is tell them the truth but I’m also trying to provide a little bit of balance. I think this is a good team. I think it’s got a chance to be a good team and I believe that. I’m not lying to them. I absolutely believe it and we’ve just got to get back to a better mindset.”