Detroit Pistons falter after first quarter again, lose to Spurs

Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond. (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond. (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons had a strong first quarter again, but dropped after the quarter. The offense and defense both went to shreds as they lost to the Spurs.

Another hot start fizzled out for the Pistons, as they led by as much as 13  in the first quarter.

The final score was 119-107, and this game feels like yet another win was left on the table. These Pistons have now lost eight of their last nine games, and will lose more ground in their playoff pursuit.

The road after this game does not get much easier for the Pistons, as they have a four game Western Conference road trip coming up. Lets take a look at three takeaways from this disappointing loss.

Pistons start hot, finish slow

This marks the second game in a row that the Pistons built a double-digit lead in the first quarter, only to see it mostly evaporated by halftime.

This is certainly puzzling to see, because when the Pistons were playing well they had a habit of starting slow. It is encouraging to see the Pistons first unit come out with intensity, but for them to be successful they will need that intensity to carry over to the second half and to the second unit.

Dwane Casey’s questionable lineup decisions

After looking at the plus/minus from this game, it is easy to tell which lineups were effective and which weren’t. Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson, Reggie Bullock, and Bruce Brown all had at least a +4, proving that the starting unit was effective in this game.

The real issue was the minute distribution of the point guards, as Jose Calderon and Jackson both played 23 minutes. Jose was a -16, while Reggie was a +6.

There is no excuse for riding Calderon that long when Jackson was playing well.

Casey must taper the minutes of his starters in a way that makes this bench unit more effective. Ish Smith’s return from injury will help, but playing their 37 year old third string point guard the same amount of time as their starter will do this team no favors.

Blake Griffin’s heroics not enough

If there is one takeaway from this game, it is that Griffin needs help.

Someone else on this team has to step up; Griffin can play great, but cannot buoy both the first and the second unit. He scored 34 points and racked up eight assists en route to a +4. He played 37 minutes, so in the 11 minutes he rested the Pistons were a -16.

Andre Drummond also showed he is not the answer to this problem. Casey staggered his lineups so that Drummond played with the bench unit, and that led to a -15 from Drummond.

While he played well and scored an efficient 19 points, he is not the focal point of a lineup that Blake is.

The Detroit Pistons will need to keep the team afloat while Griffin sits if they hope to save their season. It would be a shame if this version of Griffin was forced to watch the postseason from home.

As the Detroit Pistons continue to slip down the Eastern Conference standings, their playoff chances are starting to seem less and less likely.