Giving themselves a chance to win ballgames has not been a major issue for the Detroit Pistons this season. Actually taking advantage of those opportunities, however …
The Pistons let another one slip away Monday (and fell to 2-11 on the road in the process), 104-97 to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Detroit took a 49-46 lead to the halftime and trailed by just one heading to the fourth quarter. The Sixers pulled away a bit in that final frame, though, to grab the seven-point win. The Pistons (7-16) wasted matching 22-point performances from Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe. Rodney Stuckey scored 19 and added five assists off the bench, despite a 5-for-14 shooting night.
“Three-Ball” breaks down a trio of keys from the Pistons’ 16th loss of the 2012-13 season:
1. Stuckey thriving at Kyle Singler’s expense.
This is not the first time we’ve touched on this topic since Singler took over Stuckey’s starting two-guard spot early, but is it possible that Lawrence Frank will shift Stuckey back into the starting lineup soon? Stuckey has averaged 17.5 points over his last four games and, better yet, 27 assists to just seven turnovers during that span.
Singler, meanwhile, has only 19 points total during this 1-3 Pistons stretch. He played less than 30 minutes in Monday’s close contest, while Stuckey put in more than 31 minutes of work.
The Singler experiment has been a relatively successful one for the Pistons, but Frank may want to take advantage of Stuckey’s hot streak while it lasts.
2. Andre Drummond delivers a dud.
The Pistons’ rookie big man was on the court for a mere 13 minutes, so he didn’t exactly have a shot to get in a groove. And yet, it’s hard to blame Frank for keeping him glued to the bench.
Drummond missed his only shot and failed to grab a rebound while on the floor — he did have an assist and two blocks. Jason Maxiell also shot a putrid 1-for-10, so the Pistons did not do much of anything to help Monroe in the paint offensively. Drummond has been solid so far, but he’s still going to have some really poor nights like Monday.
3. A critical 10-game stretch looms.
After a brutal schedule to open the season, the Pistons — who started 0-8 — hoped to make some headway against lighter competition in recent weeks. Instead, they’ve gone 7-8 in their last 15 to barely tread water. Certainly, the Pistons have done little to hint that they’ll challenge for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
So, consider the remainder of December crucial to how this season will play out for Detroit. Starting with a home matchup Tuesday night against Denver, the Pistons will play six of their final 10 December games at The Palace. All of the road trips (Brooklyn, Toronto, Washington and Atlanta) appear winnable, even if those visits to Brooklyn and Atlanta will be tough.
Somehow, the Pistons have to find a way to go 6-4 or better before the new year if they’re going to generate any momentum for the second half of the season.