Pistons stumble against defending champs
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Pistons are embarrassed and frustrated, and there doesn't seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel at the moment.
Don't be fooled by the 100-86 loss to the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night, it was really a lot worse than that. Mavericks coach (and former Pistons coach) Rick Carlisle called off the dogs in the fourth quarter and Will Bynum scored 10 of his game-high 20 points to close the gap to 14.
But every game seems to have that point where the Pistons trail by 20 en route to another blowout loss. That point nearly happened in the second quarter Tuesday but came quickly in the third.
After Greg Monroe hit a layup 13 seconds in, the Pistons didn't score again until the Mavericks (5-5) had gone on a 16-0 run to take a 68-40 lead with 5:57 left in the quarter.
It's the seventh time in 10 games that the Pistons (2-8) have trailed by at least 20.
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank has talked about it being a long process.
"This process may be very painful," Frank said. "There are no easy answers here. We have a lot of work to do but there's no doubt in my mind that we will get it right. But it won't get right just by getting right, it is going to take a lot of investment on all of our parts."
Frank has so much to teach with such limited time that he can't afford to be frustrated. But the players are.
Losing consecutive games by 16 to the Chicago Bulls at home, 23 at Philadelphia, 23 at home against the New York Knicks, 24 in Chicago and then 14 at home to the Mavericks will do that to you.
"Does it alarm me? Yes, it does, it alarms me," veteran Tayshaun Prince admitted. "It's not like the guys are not playing hard. They're playing hard. But you get frustrated when things don't work out. When things (are) not going right, especially on both ends of the floor, you tend to get frustrated.
"When you get frustrated, it becomes worse. That's what me and Ben (Wallace) have to come in and talk to the guys, say 'hey, let's hold our heads up,' and we gotta get through this thing because right now we're just dragging it from game to game."
Prince said despite having a relatively young team, a truncated training camp and little time to practice, he expected more by now.
"Of course that's not how I envisioned it coming in, for it to be painful," Prince said. "I expected to see progress, not immediately, but out of these 10 games, after the win against Orlando, it hasn't been up and down as far as you see something real good for a period. For pretty much three quarters of the game it's just not there.
"Most important thing is when things are really going bad, we just gotta play hard but you gotta play smart. Right now at times we play hard but we don't play smart."
It would probably help if the Pistons did not turn the ball over eight times in the first quarter and 21 times in the game against a talented team like the Mavericks, who scored 29 points off of those turnovers.
"You look at the first 13 or 15 (points) were all off turnovers, so you have to assess why they happen, how they happen and try to correct them," Frank said. "It's obviously not something that we want to do, but it's part of our fabric right now."
Rookie point guard Brandon Knight, starting again for Rodney Stuckey, who remains sidelined with an injured groin, accounted for six of those turnovers. That's going to happen with a rookie point guard.
"Sometimes he plays a little too fast," Prince said. "When we dig ourselves a hole a little bit, like any good player, what they try to do is they try to get it back right away and you end up compounding it and it goes the other way.
"He's a hard worker, man. Obviously we know he shoots the ball real well. He'll learn from it, just like everybody else is. He's not the only one that's making mistakes out there on the floor. We just gotta get better."
The Pistons' next chance at that comes Thursday in Milwaukee, where the 3-6 Bucks are undefeated (3-0).