What the heck are the Pistons doing during halftime? And Chris Wilcox might be the answer to Detroit’s offensive woes


I didn’t want to rain on the Pistons’ parade.

But then I realized a close road loss to a quality team doesn’t change the fact they haven’t won in 10 games (their worst losing streak since 1994). So here comes the precipitation.

In some ways, it’s an accomplishment I’m bringing this up. It hasn’t been relevant in nearly three weeks.

But the Pistons make poor halftime adjustments when they have a decent lead.

The Pistons are 6-7 when they have at least a four-point halftime lead, including last night’s 98-93 loss at Dallas.

It’s tough to put my finger on exactly what goes wrong. I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the locker room. But my guess: Pistons coach John Kuester is too shy about making changes when his team has a lead.

It’s common for the team trailing at halftime to come back. In fact, a study of college basketball games showed a team trailing by one at halftime is more likely to win than the team leading by one.

But this seems extreme. The Pistons are really bad right after the intermission. In nine of those 13 games, the third quarter was their worst period of the game.

And here’s why I’m guessing the blame should go to Kuester: Detroit’s third quarter play is pretty poor when trailing at halftime, too.

A third-quarter comeback seems to indicate a halftime coaching adjustment. A fourth-quarter comeback seems to indicate increased effort by the players.

In the 17 games the Pistons trailed at halftime, they outscored their opponent in the third quarter in just seven games. They won the fourth quarter in 11 of those games.

Kuester needs to reassess his halftime agenda, especially when the Pistons are winning. It may have cost them a victory last night.

Chris Wilcox soars, dunks

Although Kuester might not shine at halftime, he made good use of Detroit’s four days off.

The Pistons haven’t shown much inside offense this year. So, opponents have sold out on the Pistons’ perimeter scorers, especially now that Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince have returned.

Enter Chris Wilcox.

Providing a lob option when the Mavericks doubled a perimeter player, Wilcox scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 20 minutes last night. All five of Wilcox’s baskets were assisted, and two were dunks.

His inside offense netted the Pistons a few easy buckets. More importantly, it opened up the perimeter once Dallas adjusted.

The Pistons had their best shooting percentage since they won a game – so you know it’s been a long time.

I think Wilcox will have a shot to fill this role for a while. He has a better skill-set than anyone else on the team to do it:

  • He has the height to be a target for lobs (sorry, Jason Maxiell).
  • He has the hands to bring in the ball (sorry, Kwame Brown).
  • He has the strength to absorb contact in the air (sorry, Charlie Villanueva).
  • And he has the touch to put it in the hoop (sorry, Ben Wallace).

In Wilcox’s player preview, Royce Young of Daily Thunder warned about getting too excited about a big game from Wilcox. But I think I’m doing it anyway. He can be a short-term fix to the Pistons’ offensive problems.

Their long-term problems probably need to be addressed in the offseason. But I’ll happily take a band-aid for now.