Did the Pistons learn their lesson from Kings loss?

Kings forward Keegan Murray (13) defended by Detroit Pistons' Jaden Ivey (23). Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Kings forward Keegan Murray (13) defended by Detroit Pistons' Jaden Ivey (23). Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

A mid-December game with the Sacramento Kings might not exactly get a player’s juices flowing, but the Detroit Pistons learned what is, hopefully, a valuable lesson: in the NBA, you need to show up every game, and for 48 minutes.

Everyone talks about how teams ‘take off’ a period or two and maybe go through the motions and turn it on at the end, but those kind of teams are loaded with talent and veteran leadership. They know when to turn it on and off, when needed.

Yeah, the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors can fall behind by 20 at halftime and then decide to play for real and blow a team out. Last time I looked, this season’s Detroit Pistons are not the 2016-17 Warriors.

Which is why they, hopefully, learned a valuable lesson in their, 122-113, loss to the Kings at Little Caesars Arena.

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Lesson: An NBA game is 48 minutes and you need to show up and play for all 48 of them, or suffer the consequences (perpetual draft lottery presence, season done in early April).

The Kings, this year, are not a bad team. They are currently in fifth place in the Western Conference as they attempt to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006 (not uncoincidentally, the last year Michigan’s Chris Webber played with them).

Detroit played well in the first half and held a 63-55 lead at halftime, so it is not like they could not compete with Sacramento. Then came the third period:

How bad was the first six minutes of the third quarter?

The whole Kings offense is run, run, run and if you are not going to get back on defense, or you turn the ball over, the points will pile up with De’Aaron Fox running the show (Keegan Murray also was in ‘I’ll show you why I went ahead of Jaden Ivey mode’).

Sacramento started the third quarter on a 28-8 run, turning an eight-point deficit into a 12-point lead. The Pistons bench then kind of stabilized things and Detroit, as always, fought back and got as close as three points. But that is a steep hill to climb, particularly when you do not have the talent or experience advantage.

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NBA players are all physically athletic freaks. In high school and college, they are usually faster, stronger and quicker than 99% of their opponents. But now, they are facing players with equal size, strength and athletic ability, so other factors: skill, work ethic, concentration, basketball IQ all come into play.

As a young player, Cory Joseph was a reserve guard on the great San Antonio Spurs teams. Do you think he was ever allowed to loaf during a game? Bojan Bogdanovic was on very successful Utah teams, you can tell he tries to bring it everytime.

If an NBA team senses weakness, even if it just six out of a 48 minute game, they can jump all over you before you know it, and the game is over.

Young players need to learn this. Some, like Isaiah Stewart, are just natural hustlers but many need to figure they must be mentally locked in every second they are on the court.

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Coach Dwane Casey talked about maybe shaking the lineup up after that disastrous second half start. That is certainly one way to deliver a message: Show up, or sit down.