Prince pointed to Jason Maxiell, who equaled a career-high with six blocked shots, as a teammate unfairly victimized by poor team defense.
Exhibit A was Danilo Gallinari’s 3-pointer to push Denver’s lead to 96-89, effectively ending the game, when Brandon Knight got switched onto the taller player then tried to switch back with Maxiell while the Nuggets’ power forward was teeing up a decisive blow.
"Max had a terrific game on both ends, especially on the defensive end, but a couple of bad things happened where his man scored and everybody’s looking at Max like, ‘What happened?’" Prince said. "No, it’s not Max’s fault. But that’s just the things that happen when all five guys aren’t on the same page. That’s where the discipline factor comes in."
First of all, Tayshaun Prince is probably right. That gives him plenty of leeway to discuss this topic.
It’s also easy to see why he’d want to stick up for Jason Maxiell. They’re the Pistons’ longest-tenured players and have been through a lot together.
But, given the Pistons’ recent past, it could be a bit alarming Prince would say something like this. Not long ago, there were plenty of reports that the Pistons were a team divided between young and old. Signs of a similar struggle have mostly disappeared, but this might be a warning that it’s creeping back up.
There’s no doubt the Pistons’ young players lack the defensive awareness of Prince and Maxiell, and I’m sure that’s frustrating for those two. It must be especially frustrating when their teammates’ defensive struggles make Prince and Maxiell look bad. Not only is it OK for Prince to discuss that, I appreciate his candor, and his words help us better understand the team’s play – if that’s all he was doing.
But I’d have a big problem if someone the Pistons are paying major money to lead is fueling a locker-room divide. Hopefully, that’s not what’s happening here.