It was just a little over two weeks ago that it seemed like the sky was the limit for this young Pistons team. Detroit had just had dominating performances to win in Charlotte, Boston and Atlanta, after struggling on the road so often to start the year, and the team had moved to a game over .500. It seemed like the entire team was jelling together and everyone was playing fantastic basketball. On top of that, the Pistons were about to get star point guard Reggie Jackson back after he missed the first 21 games of the season.
Fast forward 15 days from that win over the Hawks. The Pistons have dropped 3 of the last four games in blow outs. Those embarrassing loses coming to the hands of the Pacers, Wizards and of course powerhouse Philadelphia who has a combined record of 35-156 over the last three seasons. Following the most recent loss at home vs Indiana, the team called a players only meeting. There they discussed what the team had to do to right the ship moving forward.
“I did a lot of the talking, I said at the end of the meeting that we have to make a decision,” said forward Marcus Morris. “Everybody go home tonight and decide on what you want to do. Do you want to be a winning team or do you want to continue to get embarrassed? Are you going to play for the next man beside you or are you going to play for yourself?”
The general feeling around the team is that some guys are being too selfish on offense. Morris had this to say about the offense.
“If you have a guy wide open, he has to get the ball. It builds guys’ confidence. It makes the game funner. That’s just how it is. Of course some dudes are going to get more shots than other dudes. That’s how the game goes,” Morris said. “Guys are not going to respond well when they don’t get the ball when they’re open. That’s just basketball. That’s just the right way. The Spurs, Golden State, Cleveland, the top tier teams play the right way. You never win if you don’t play the right way. That’s just the bottom line.”
Head coach Stan Van Gundy Sees problems with the offense as well and believe that it is leading to deeper problems.
“Our offensive frustration is affecting us at the defensive end and we’re losing heart a little bit,” Van Gundy said. “That’s concerning. The offense has not been moving the way it should. The ball is not moving. I got to look at play calls and the whole thing.”
So how would the Pistons respond to this meeting where the players had a chance to lay it all out on the table. Would they continue to lose heart? Or would they decide to play for the man next to them and show new life on the court? We had a chance to see tonight against a Bulls team that frankly is nothing special. And how did they respond? THEY ROLLED OVER AND DIED!
In the first half the Pistons were outscored 69-34. The starting unit had a combined +/- of -153. When it was all said and done, only one starter scored in double digits (Tobias Harris with 10) and Detroit was once again blown out 113-82. This was a test of what the team was made of mentally and they failed. They didn’t just fail, they fell asleep two minutes into the test and scribbled down a bunch of nonsense before the teacher made them turn it in at the end of class. That makes four times in the last five games where the Pistons have been laughed off the floor and you can expect a very long year if this trend continues.
So can the Pistons bounce back from this pathetic downward spiral? Of course they can. However, changes need to be made and they need to be made now. Coach Van Gundy will be the first to tell you so. He had this to say after the game when asked about a lineup change.
“It’s just a matter of who now. I guarantee you on Wednesday night we’re not trotting that five out there again.”.
So let the speculation begin. Who will be benched? While at this point it is unclear, my guess would be Reggie Jackson. He is the primary facilitator of this team and if the ball movement isn’t good then that falls on him. On top of that, the team seemed to be clicking very well before he rejoined the rotation. This is solely speculation at this time, but don’t be shocked to see Ish Smith running the offense when the Pistons host Memphis on Wednesday.