AUBURN HILLS — Pistons owner Tom Gores picked a good night to make a rare appearance at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
He saw three of his players put up 20 point, 10 rebound games — the first time the Pistons had three in one night since 1997 — and post an impressive 113-96 win over Philadelphia.
That was the good news. The bad news was that Detroit’s performance gave him more reason to wonder why they are still on the outside looking in at the playoff spots in the terrible Eastern Conference. The Pistons entered Saturday’s busy league schedule in 10th place in the East, a half-game behind ninth-place New York and a game-and-a-half behind the eighth-seeded Bobcats.
Even if Gores isn’t at the Palace for every game, he pays very close attention to his team’s results. That means he knows the Pistons would be comfortably in a playoff spot if not for their habit of blowing second-half leads.
"We’re not that far out of it, and that’s frustrating, because I know this team is better than its record," he said. "At the same time, there is a lot of hope, because this team has a lot of possibilities."
The triple 20/10 night was a perfect example of why Gores sees so much promise in his team. It is a very impressive achievement, considering the teal-clad trio of Grant Hill, Bison Dele and Lindsey Hunter needed a triple-overtime game to do it, while this group did it in regulation.
What makes it more encouraging, though, is that the three players who did it — Greg Monroe (21/12), Andre Drummond (22/14) and Kyle Singler (20/10) — average just 22.7 years of age.
"We have the first or second youngest team in the league, and we need to help them out," Gores said. "We have to come together and gell as a team, but I don’t think you can say our players don’t work hard. They are working at 100 percent, but these are young men who need a lot of preparation."
That’s the place where Gores thinks his staff is letting the players down. He wasn’t pointing fingers at Joe Dumars or Maurice Cheeks, but he made it clear that he’s not pleased with the way things are going.
"We have to make the players the best they can be," he said. "Our main job is to make sure our players are at their maximum, and they aren’t there right now. We’re focused on how to make our players the best they can me, but I don’t think we’ve done our best job of making sure of that.
"I’m not satisfied. I’m not satisfied with the job I’m doing, and I’m not satisfied with the job anyone is doing."
Because of that, Gores isn’t looking at the upcoming trade deadline as the way to fix a 19-27 team.
"We’re doing a lot of homework, but we’re not focused on the deadline or anything like that," he said. "We’re looking at getting our guys better, and we have work to do."
That’s probably good news for Greg Monroe, who has admitted that it has been unsettling to be the subject of so many trade rumors as the Feb. 20 deadline approaches.
On the other hand, it means that the pressure is firmly on Dumars and Cheeks. Gores still sees the Pistons as a team failing to reach its potential, and they are the ones in charge of making that happen.