So what if the Pistons entered last night’s game with Chicago losers in three of their last four games?
Detroit played all four without Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Allen Iverson — and one without Rodney Stuckey.
The Pistons beat the Clippers in the stretch. They played tough against the Mavericks, Rockets and Heat, too. All things considered the four games went almost as well as could be anticipated. A 2-2 record would have been a little nicer, but it’s hard to complain when the team is so decimated with injuries.
But without those three dynamic scorers, Detroit’s offense soared. In those four games, the Pistons’ offensive rating was 118.2. In the course of a complete season, that would be the best mark in NBA history.
Several players — Arron Afflalo, Kwame Brown, Will Bynum, Walter Herrmann, Antonio McDyess, Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey — scored above their season averages. It seemed everyone stepped up, and that’s Detroit needed to overcome its injuries.
But the wheels fell off in a 99-91 loss to the Bulls last night. The Pistons offensive rating last night was 103.7. If they kept had that rating for the season, they’d be 28th in the league.
And if you remove Detroit’s 10-3 run in the final 1:20 of garbage time, the Pistons’ rating was 95.7 — which would be, far and away, worst in the league.
So went wrong?
Afflalo and Brown, who replaced Hamilton and Wallace in the starting lineup, had played extremely in the first four games without the usual starters. But they simply aren’t that good. Their inconsistencies on offense were bound to catch up with them, and they did last night.
Four-game stretch: 14.3
Last night: 2
Four-game stretch: 2.3
Last night: 0
Four-game stretch: 8.5
Last night: 5
Four-game stretch: 7.3
Last night: 11
Four-game stretch: 0.3
Last night: 4
The Pistons have four players who can create shots and hit jumpers with relative consistency — Hamilton, Wallace, Iverson and Tayshaun Prince. With three of them out, the Pistons’ offense becomes to simple to defend if the more one-dimensional players aren’t performing.
As noted by Count That Baby And A Foul in tonight’s live blog, Stuckey and Will Bynum can drive. Antonio McDyess and Arron Afflalo can shoot. But rarely can either pair do the other task efficiently.
Detroit leads Chicago by just one game for the seventh seed. The Bobcats loom two games behind that.
The Pistons need some combination of Hamilton, Wallace and Iverson back before Detroit shows how low reality could be for this group.