The fourth quarter continues to be an Achilles heel for the Detroit Pistons. Trailing by one with a just over four minutes play, they missed their final eight shots and dropped a 104-96 decision to the visiting Golden State Warriors. The final quarter saw the Pistons score just 13 points and shoot a dismal 22 percent from the floor.
The Warriors (35-22) arrived with a five-game winning streak against the Pistons, holding them under 100 points in each contest. That trend appeared as if it was headed in a different direction, with both teams flying down the court in the first half, as the Warriors took a slim 63-62 lead into the locker room.
Both teams did their fair share of talking before the break. However, most of the Pistons’ (23-33) talk was to the refs and most of the Warriors’ talk was to the Pistons. In retrospect, that might be the biggest difference between a team that knows where it’s going (Golden State) and a team still searching for an identity (Detroit).
A clearer vision at point guard would go a long way in solving one of the Pistons’ main problems. An increase in minutes has shown Will Bynum to be capable of efficiently running the offense and deserving of more playing time. Even though Brandon Jennings is the starter, the offense goes into a lull with him at the helm, as the rest of the players on the floor fall into jump-shooting exhibitions. Though he finished with more points (11 to eight) and assists (10 to four), Jennings played 21 more minutes. His athleticism allows him to operate more freely in transition, while Bynum plays with better pace and has a better flow to his game.
Another adjustment that needs to be made is the role of Josh Smith. The small forward posted a double-double, scoring 18 points and pulling down 11 rebounds, but has a tendency of taking several ill-advised shots in crucial stretches. During one play midway through the third quarter, Smith nestled in a defensive rebound, proceeded to advance the ball up the court and took a 17-footer that barely grazed the rim.
That type of play pretty much sums up the Pistons’ season, which has shown signs of improvement at times, but not with the consistency they hoped for. Though they sit in the ninth spot of the Eastern Conference and trail the Atlanta Hawks by just four games for the final playoff spot, any talks of that should be silenced.
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry led the way for Golden State with 19 points, but the clear difference was the play of 35-year-old center Jermaine O’ Neal. His play has been a welcome addition due to uncertainty of David Lee and Andrew Bogut‘s availability. Bogut played 29 minutes, but still has a heavily-bandaged left shoulder from a bone bruise.
Greg Monroe scored a game-high 23 points for the Pistons, who are now 15-4 against the Warriors at The Palace since 1994-95.