Pistons Weekly: Growing pains

After getting their first two wins of the season last week, this was a so-so week for the Pistons, now 3-11.

After a couple of days of practice, the Pistons traveled to Orlando and promptly laid an egg.

The first half was actually pretty good as they held a 48-45 lead over the Magic.

But it was a completely different story in the second half, particularly the third quarter. The Pistons couldn’t buy a basket and did not score until Rodney Stuckey made two free throws with 2:15 left in the quarter.

At one point, coach Lawrence Frank took out all of the starters at once.

“We had line changes,” Frank told reporters in Orlando. “We had guys going in and out. You’re constantly trying to find different answers, putting different guys in there to see if they can bring something different to the game.”

The Pistons managed just eight points to the Magic’s 26, shooting 2-for-21 in the quarter en route to a 90-74 loss.

It was a far better showing at home Friday night against the Toronto Raptors.

Although they had trouble containing Andrea Bargnani, who had 17 of his season-high 34 points in the first quarter, the Pistons were up for the challenge.

In particular, Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight were up for the challenge.

Drummond recorded his first career double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, eight of them on the offensive glass.

Monroe led the team with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

The Pistons trailed by one until Brandon Knight, who wasn’t supposed to take the shot, found himself with the ball and an open lane and drove to the basket for a layup with 7.8 seconds left. It proved to be the game-winner.

“The thing about Brandon is he’s not afraid,” Frank said. “He’ll put himself out there. Sometimes it works for us and sometimes it doesn’t work out, but he’s not afraid, I’ll tell you that much.”

The Palace had some lively Lithuanian fans who were rooting for Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas and Linas Kleiza.

The Pistons saw some familiar faces Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden when facing the New York Knicks.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson is a former Pistons assistant and former Piston Rasheed Wallace came out of retirement to play for the Knicks this season.

But the story was Carmelo Anthony, who scored 29 points in 32 minutes as the Knicks beat the Pistons, 121-100.

The Pistons had 20 turnovers which led to 33 points for the Knicks.

“How many minutes of defense did we play? I don’ know, but I know it’s not nearly good enough to do and we’ve got to take care of the ball.” Frank told reporters in New York.

LAST WEEK

Wednesday, Nov. 21: Orlando Magic 90, PISTONS 74.
There was nothing good to say about this game, at least in the second half. The Magic scored the first 21 points of the third quarter to beat the Pistons for the second time in a week.

Friday, Nov. 23: PISTONS 91, Toronto Raptors 90. The youth movement was on as Greg Monroe had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Andre Drummond had his first career double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds and Brandon Knight made the game-winning shot with 7.8 seconds left.

Sunday, Nov. 25: New York Knicks 121, PISTONS 100. Allowing the undefeated-at-home Knicks to score a season-high 64 first-half points did not prove to be a recipe for success. The Knicks were 17-for-33 from three-point range.

WHO’S HOT

Knight: Knight did not have a great game against Orlando, but he had the game-winner against Toronto and led the team with 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting against New York.

Monroe: Monroe was the team’s most consistent performer for the week. He had 19 points and eight rebounds against the Magic, a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double against the Raptors and 12 points, five rebounds and seven assists against the Knicks.

WHO’S NOT

Jason Maxiell: Maxiell’s minutes have dropped and so has his offense. He had 14 total points in the three games for the week.

Kyle Singler: Singler finished the week on a stronger note, finally getting double figures with 16 points against the Knicks. But in the other two games, the rookie had eight total points.

THIS WEEK

Monday, Nov. 26: vs. the Portland Trailblazers at the Palace, 7:30 p.m. The Trailblazers come to town for the second game of a seven-game road trip after losing Sunday in Brooklyn. The Trailblazers are just 2-4 on the road.

Wednesday, Nov. 28: vs. the Phoenix Suns at the Palace, 7:30 p.m.
The Suns beat the Pistons in Phoenix so the Pistons would like to return the favor. Goran Dragic is leading the Suns with 16 points per game.

Friday, Nov. 30: at the Memphis Grizzlies, 8 p.m.
The Grizzlies enter the week leading the Southwest Division with a 9-2 record, 9-1 in their last 10 games. They’ll see former Michigan State Spartan Zach Randolph, who leads the team with an average of 13.6 rebounds.

Saturday, Dec. 1: at the Dallas Mavericks, 9 p.m. The Mavericks are led by former Pistons coach Rick Carlisle. They’re without star forward Dirk Nowitzki, who has not played this season because of arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He’s not expected back before mid-December.