AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The NBA holds its All-Star Game this weekend in Houston but it looked like the Detroit Pistons started their break a little early.
The upper bowl looked decidedly sparse Monday night and the announced attendance was a season-low 10,177, worse than the 10,212 that came to see the Portland Trailblazers Nov. 26. But the Pistons at least won that game.
After beginning the game against the New Orleans Hornets on an 8-0 run, the Pistons fell apart against a young, aggressive team, eventually succumbing, 105-86.
If they keep this pace up, the crowds at the Palace could get even smaller.
“What they put into the game versus what we put into the game, they deserved to kick our butt and they did,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said.
The Hornets called a timeout after getting down 0-8 and then returned to the floor and quickly tied the game.
“They came out here and they just wanted to win the game more than us,” said Greg Monroe, who had his 24th double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. “We started off great and after that timeout, they kind of took control from there.”
While it would have been nice to see Andre Drummond match up against fellow rookie and No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis, Drummond’s back injury made that impossible.
Davis was all right, with one point, eight rebounds and four blocked shots, but his teammates dazzled around him.
Al-Farouq Aminu had 12 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks; Robin Lopez had 23 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks; and Ryan Anderson came off the bench to deliver a game-high 31 points, four rebounds and two blocks.
The Pistons looked nothing like the team that had scored more than 100 points in back-to-back wins against the San Antonio Spurs at home and the Milwaukee Bucks on the road.
“Other than the initial spurt, 8-0, our defense was horrible,” Frank said. “You have to give them credit. They played much harder than us, much tougher, more physical, more intense. Monty (Williams, Hornets coach) had his guys ready, I didn’t.”
The crowd responded accordingly. When Monroe missed a free throw — one of 10 the Pistons missed — a fan was overheard saying, “How’d I know that wasn’t going in?”
In the past, the Pistons’ bench has often provided a spark, but they couldn’t help either.
Will Bynum was 0 for 8 with two points and two assists. Charlie Villanueva, who hit the game-clinching shot against the Bucks, had just five points on 2-for-7 shooting, to go along with six rebounds.
Only Rodney Stuckey had much life, scoring a team-high 19 points, albeit on 4-for-12 shooting. Eleven of his points came at the free-throw line.
“We just didn’t finish at the rim, some of them we put up some questionable shots at the rim, some of them maybe there was some contact,” Frank said. “Then I think we started getting frustrated. We allowed that to impact in all phases of our game. Every time there was a little run, they’d make us pay for a mistake or we’d compound it.
“You give also a group like that, a young team, you give them confidence early, and then it’s hard to turn that faucet off and we were never able to do so.”
Of course it would have helped to have Drummond, but the Pistons won’t have him for at least a month so they’d better get used to that.
They had also better not expect the Washington Wizards, their last opponent before the All-Star break, to play like they did the last time they were in town.
That Wizards team was missing a lot of players, including John Wall and Nene. The current team has won four in a row with those players back. They arrive at the Palace Wednesday.
“We can gauge our process game to game,” Kyle Singler said. “I think we played some good basketball throughout this (past) week but this is definitely a step back. We didn’t play well, guys feel that and we’re going to come in (Tuesday) with a new mindset and get ready for the next game.”