Loss to Warriors exposes Pistons’ reliance on faux accomplishments

For the last four seasons, the Pistons and Warriors have finished with losing records.

In 2008-09, the Warriors won 29 games. The Pistons won 39.

The next year, the Warriors won 26 games. The Pistons won 27.

Last season, Warriors won 23 games. The Pistons won 25.

With 2010-11 the only exception, the Pistons have finished with a better record than the Warriors lately – the type of faux accomplishment the Pistons love brag about.

Who cares that the Pistons played themselves out of better draft picks more successfully than the Warriors did? Who cares that the Pistons had won five straight at The Palace?

After the Pistons’ 104-97 home loss to the Warriors tonight, the answers should be nobody.

Golden State has drafted well and hired a coach, Mark Jackson, who has done an excellent job of developing the team’s young talent and integrating it with the veterans. I didn’t expect Jackson to be so successful, but here we are.

The Warriors (11-7) are a legitimately good team. The Pistons (6-14) are not.

The Pistons might be headed in the right direction, but it hasn’t happened fast enough. Instead of celebrating real gains, like the Warriors have made, the Pistons hang their hats on nonsense.

The latest faux accomplishment the Pistons had sold was their five-game home winning streak. But their five opponents in the run have a combined 33-60 record, and the only one with a winning record was playing a back-to-back and its fourth game in five days. When the Pistons played a team as good as Golden State, the streak abruptly ended.

Sure, it was nice the Pistons won those games, but they don’t necessarily mean the Pistons are making progress.

And sure, it was nice the Pistons the Pistons cut a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit to three points late, but that’s likely another meaningless accomplishment. Golden State let up and Detroit made a few plays, but it never really felt like the Pistons had enough late to win this game.

The Pistons might try to sell the comeback as a big deal, but that’s just too difficult to accept right now. The Warriors, who not long ago were in a similar boat to the Pistons, are actually good now – you know, a real accomplishment. Everything the Pistons are spewing pales in comparison.

Golden State Warriors 104 Final
Recap | Box Score
97 Detroit Pistons
Jason Maxiell, PF 24 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | -22

David Lee (20 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 11 rebounds) torched him.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 35 MIN | 10-18 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 24 PTS | -5

Prince took a season-high 18 shots, but he was the Pistons’ best offensive option tonight, so I’m fine with that. Plus, with five assists, it’s not like moved the ball poorly. He also played solid defense on Harrison Barnes, who shot 2-for-7. Prince had just two rebounds in 35 minutes, but he didn’t really hurt the Pistons on the glass. Detroit out-rebounded Golden State, 44-35, anyway. Prince just didn’t help on the glass, a picky criticism in an otherwise excellent game.

Kyle Singler, SF 32 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -10

Klay Thompson (27 points on 9-of-13 shooting) torched him.

Greg Monroe, C 22 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 9 PTS | -24

He just wasn’t that involved in this game, which, at some point if it hasn’t already, will become unacceptable. Monroe did alright in his limited role, but he must take a large role for this team going forward. For the foreseeable future, Monroe is the Pistons’ best player, and for them to win most nights, he must try to play like it. Sometimes, his production will fall short, but his usage usually can’t.

Brandon Knight, PG 24 MIN | 1-9 FG | 1-3 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | +3

I don’t whether his four turnovers or 1-for-9 shooting was more upsetting. I don’t even blame him for trouble defending Stephen Curry (22 points and 10 assists). It’s easy to see Curry becoming a star soon. It’s easy to see Knight becoming an average starting point guard soon. Tonight, the difference showed.

Charlie Villanueva, PF 19 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +15

Greg Monroe re-entered the game before Villanueva entered once, so it appeared Villanueva might have been out of the rotation. Villanueva got his chance midway through the second quarter when Monroe picked up his third foul, but I’m not sure how much Villanueva would have played had Monroe avoided foul trouble. If Villanueva is in danger of losing his rotation spot, he probably did enough tonight to hang on for at least another game.

Andre Drummond, C 31 MIN | 6-8 FG | 3-7 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 15 PTS | +17

Drummond had a very obvious and very terrible defensive lapse shortly after entering the game, losing track of Festus Ezeli, who went right to the rim for an easy alley-oop from Stephen Curry. Thankfully, the Pistons stuck with Drummond for 31 minutes – six more than his previous high – because he was awesome tonight. He made an impact all over defensively and on the glass, and he limited his shots to high-percentage ones.

Rodney Stuckey, PG 31 MIN | 5-11 FG | 6-7 FT | 4 REB | 9 AST | 17 PTS | -1

Is Stuckey a better point guard right now than Knight? If Drummond keeps getting major minutes, I suspect that will become the most-debated Pistons topic.

Lawrence Frank, HEAD COACH

Frank did the most important thing: playing Drummond more minutes. Everything else is secondary, and in those areas, I think Frank was fine. The Warriors successfully attacked the Pistons’ lack of foot speed, primarily with Singler at shooting guard and Maxiell at power forward. I’m not sure what else Frank could have done about it besides have better players. Most of us agree making Singler the starting shooting guard has improved the Pistons, and Frank sat Maxiell in favor of Drummond.

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Tags: Andre Drummond Brandon Knight Charlie Villanueva Greg Monroe Jason Maxiell Kyle Singler Lawrence Frank Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince

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