The Detroit Pistons’ collapse Wednesday vs. the Chicago Bulls happened in the middle of what’s been an unpredictable and unusual week.
Monday brought two big news items — their home game Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs would be delayed due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, and Blake Griffin would be inactive and away from the team until the Pistons trade him or buy him out.
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Then Detroit’s road game scheduled for Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks was postponed due to severe weather in Texas, and replaced with a road game against the Bulls less than 36 hours before the opening tip.
After winning three of their last four games, the Pistons’ schedule came to a brief halt. Did that have anything to do with their hot start, and sudden lack of energy, in Wednesday’s 105-102 loss to the Bulls?
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“It had nothing to do with it,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “Chicago was in the same boat, they came out with the same intensity in the second half. We came out with great intensity in the first half and just exhaled a little bit. Both teams are in the same boat. I thought Chicago played harder, played more aggressive in the second half than we did.”
The Pistons lost despite a career night from Jerami Grant and 25-point lead with less than three minutes before halftime. Following their best week of the season, Wednesday was a regression back to December and January when the Pistons routinely struggled to hold onto leads.
They acknowledged that they didn’t come out with enough energy in the second half once momentum began to shift in Chicago’s favor. The Pistons led 59-34 with 2:39 to play before halftime after Mason Plumlee finished a lob from Delon Wright. Chicago closed the quarter with a 9-4 run, and then dominated the third quarter.
Detroit was outscored 27-12 in the third and made just three of its 10 shot attempts. Some of the misses were shots that looked like guarantees, such as a wide-open Wayne Ellington corner 3-pointer midway through the quarter that missed. As a team, the Pistons shot just 8-for-28 from outside.
“The hardest thing to do in this league is play with the lead,” Casey said. “That’s something that we gotta learn how to do. We haven’t been in that position very much, but that’s something that we gotta learn how to do. Possessions are very important. You can’t gamble and go for phantom steals and miss in that situation. You gotta make sure you’re strong with the ball because they’re going to be overaggressive. The officials are going to be, go with the momentum. It was a perfect storm, but like you said, it started the last two minutes of the first half.”
Grant scored 19 in the fourth quarter, keeping the Pistons afloat while their overall offense struggled to pick up. It appeared the Pistons were on the cusp of hitting some real momentum this season, but Wednesday showed they haven’t solved their consistency issues yet.
“Winning matters over personal play, definitely,” Grant said. “We could’ve did a better job, obviously, in the third quarter. We gave up the lead, and down the stretch we missed a couple of shots that we normally would make. I think we gave up the game in the third quarter.”
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Pistons’ inconsistency rears ugly head vs. Chicago Bulls