The Detroit Pistons learned a painful lesson in last night’s loss to the Portland Trail Blazers: You can’t coast in the NBA.
Detroit got out to a big lead in the first half and everything was going the Pistons’ way. They were flying around on defense, nabbing steals, getting out on the fast break and everything was peachy.
They were throwing down alley-oops and windmill dunks, puffing out their chests and getting a little too excited for a team that hasn’t won squat in four years.
The Pistons started loving themselves a bit too much, thought the game was over at halftime and neglected to show up in the second half. You can’t do that in the NBA, even against a bad team, as Portland kept battling, kept chipping away until they eventually pulled ahead in the 4th quarter.
By that time the Detroit Pistons didn’t have the gas to mount a final surge and lost a game they certainly should have won. Fans were rightfully angry (some people went a bit far in their criticism of Cade Cunningham) and there was plenty of blame to go around.
The Blame Game for the Detroit Pistons in loss to Trail Blazers
Let’s start with a couple of things that were out of the Detroit Pistons’ control last night:
The Pistons were without Bojan Bogdanovic, Monte Morris and Isaiah Livers, but we knew that going in. Jalen Duren also sat out with a sprained ankle, and Alec Burks was a late scratch with a forearm injury. If Duren and Burks had played, the Pistons probably win this game, but hypotheticals don’t matter in the win column.
Do NBA refs hate the Detroit Pistons or what? I am not a ref blamer, as usually there are bad calls on both sides (including last night), but when one team shoots literally THREE TIMES as many free throws as the other, something isn’t right. The Blazers shot 33 free throws last night to the Pistons 11, gaining 17 points in the process. There is your ball game. Part of it was that Portland was more aggressive getting to the rim in the second half, but part was that they were getting whistles that the Pistons simply weren’t. Cade Cunningham got hammered on at least three plays I can think of with no calls (in the 2nd half alone) while Shaedon Sharpe was getting to the line every time someone breathed on him. Sharpe nearly had more free throws (10) than the Pistons’ entire team last night. By the end of the game, it looked like Cade had been in a fight.
That being said, Cunningham has to stop jawing at the refs. Twice last night he was arguing calls while the Trail Blazers were scoring on the other end. Cade can’t let blown calls affect his defense or poise, which it did last night.
Now let’s get to the things the Detroit Pistons can control, starting at the top.