Detroit Pistons embarrassed themselves tonight

The Pistons aren’t a good team right now. We can debate all we want how much better they’ll be when fully healthy. But, for now, they’re nothing special.

Still, they have no business losing like they did to the Charlotte Bobcats tonight, 88-76.

  • The Pistons trailed by double digits for the final 33 minutes and 52 seconds.
  • They missed five free throws in a row at one point and finished just 12-of-21 from the line.
  • They rarely closed out on outside shooters, allowing Charlotte (26th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage entering the game ) to make 9-of-18 3-pointers. And before the Bobcats also stopped trying in the final five minutes, they rebounded half their 3-point misses.

This game wasn’t a fluke loss. Detroit was off yesterday, and the Bobcats are 11-16.

I’ve seen enough of the NBA to strongly suspect something is wrong.

Here’s my guess, and I admit this is pretty blind: the Pistons have heard so much about their injury problems, the team has developed a defeatist attitude. They repeatedly hear it’s OK they’re losing, and now they believe it.

Even if that’s not it, something is wrong. I think the odds are everyone in that locker room knows what it is. Regardless of what it is, they have to deal with it.

Pistons coach John Kuester has gotten a lot of credit for the job he’s done thus far – and deservedly so. One of his biggest strengths has been getting the team to play hard every game.

But he didn’t tonight. And he needs to do something about. Usually, the onus would be on a player. The NBA is a players’ league, and players fix (and create) most problems.

But Richard Hamilton is the team’s most respected leader. And he’s out with injury, so the message wouldn’t work from him. And Chucky Atkins probably isn’t a good enough player to inspire everyone, either.

But the Pistons are in a rare situation where the head coach is very important. Besides the injured trio of Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Gordon, Detroit doesn’t have a lot of veterans who are more important than the coach.

The younger players the Pistons are depending on now still probably look up to and respect their coach.

Kuester has done a good job so far. But this team is at a crossroads, and the first-year coach needs to continue to push the right buttons. If he doesn’t, the Pistons could be sunk in the playoff race before they get healthy.

On the bright side

Chris Wilcox was the lone bright spot for Detroit tonight. He had eight points (4-of-4 from the field), five rebounds, two steals and block in 16 minutes. Heck, I even look at his two fouls and and two turnovers as semi-positive because they show how he was active and around the ball.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Kuester sticks Wilcox in the rotation, maybe even ahead of Jason Maxiell in the starting lineup, to send a message. I’m not sure if the best move, but it’s a move.

And Kuester has to do something.

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