Did the Detroit Pistons stumble into a new lineup?

I was inclined to write about how similar the Pistons’ 87-81 loss at Portland last night was to Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers. Really, the game played out nearly the same way.

  • The Pistons hung around early.
  • During the second and third quarters, they showed how overmatched they will be on this road trip.
  • They made a furious comeback in the fourth quarter, but came up short.

But this loss has the potential to mean more.

In the fourth quarter, Pistons coach John Kuester brought in a pretty unconventional lineup. I don’t think he thought much about how the players would fit together. He just wanted to get some end-of-the-bench guys playing time. Here are the six players who primarily played in the fourth quarter:

  • Rodney Stuckey (6-foot-5)
  • Jonas Jerebko (6-foot-10)
  • DaJuan Summers (6-foot-8)
  • Austin Daye (6-foot-11)
  • Charlie Villanueva (6-foot-11)
  • Ben Wallace (6-foot-9)

That’s a ridiculously tall lineup, especially considering Detroit doesn’t have a single 7-footer. It was the opposite of the small ball the Pistons have been playing at many times this year. But it solved a lot of problems.

A lot of Portland’s success came from shooting short jumpers over Detroit’s smaller players. Those jumpers stopped falling in the fourth.

Did this lineup’s height make those shots tougher, or was Portland just caught off guard?

The Trail Blazers moved the ball very well the first three quarters. But down the stretch, the Pistons intercepted a few passes and forced a shot-clock violation.

Did this lineup’s length force a lot of turnovers, or was Portland just caught off guard?

For most of the game, Detroit lacked fluidity on offense. But this lineup did a good job of moving the ball inside and out.

Did this lineup’s versatility open up the offense, or was Portland just caught off guard?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. Maybe it’s all about the Trail Blazers having a 20-point lead and losing focus when the Pistons went outside the box late. I just don’t know.

But if I’m Kuester, I’m putting this lineup or a similar one out there again to find out.

Advanced statistics

Number in parentheses represent where the game’s rating would rank among NBA teams’ season totals.

Offensive rating: 101.9 (26th)

Defensive rating: 109.4 (22nd)

Pace: 79.5 (31st)

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