Just four days ago, the Detroit Pistons clobbered the Bulls 131-108 at home, extending what had been a surprisingly nice little run of games for such a terminally mediocre franchise. That win over the Bulls was Detroit’s 12th in 15 games, and they were starting to look like a team deserving of a playoff spot, rather than just end-of-the-bracket filler. At least one smart person, however, tried to warn Pistons fans about getting too excited, and given what’s happened to Detroit over the last two games, that warning was prescient.
Detroit lost to the Heat last night 108-74. Two nights before that, they lost 103-75 to the Nets. There was a time in the NBA when a team scoring 149 combined points in consecutive games wouldn’t be all that noteworthy, but in this era of supercharged pace and slavish devotion to the three ball, it should be close to impossible to pull off such a grim feat. In fact, the Pistons are the first team since the 2013 Bulls to score 75 points or less in two straight games, according to Basketball Reference. Before that, it had been done by six different teams during the 2012 season.
To the Pistons’ credit, they managed to not score any points in two distinct ways. On Monday night against the Nets, they played with plenty of pace and space, taking 97 total shots, with 34 of those coming from behind the three-point line. Give a team like the Warriors that many attempts and you’re probably looking at a 130-point outing, and yet the Pistons managed to clank their way to 75 points by missing basically everything. They shot a ghastly 27 percent from the floor, and only hit eight of those 34 attempted threes. Their highest scoring quarter was the third (27), but that was bracketed by a 35-point first half and a 17-point fourth quarter. No player who attempted more than five shots finished with a field-goal percentage higher than 42 percent, and Blake Griffin finished the game 1-of-1o from the floor.
Wednesday’s game was somehow worse! Against the Heat, the Pistons lurched their way to 77 field goal attempts, but somehow managed to launch 37 of them from deep. They again only hit eight of those threes, and shot 35 percent from the field for the game. Things get even more grisly: After a rough start, Detroit actually managed to score 31 points in the second quarter, but that burst of competent basketball added up to nothing because they went on to score eight points in the third quarter and 17 in the fourth. The Heat started the third quarter on a 21-0 run, and it wasn’t until there was just 5:27 left in the frame that the Pistons scored their first bucket of the half. The team’s three leading scorers—Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, and Blake Griffin—scored 26 total points and shot a combined 8-of-27 from the floor.
Okay, now for the blood. The Pistons shot a combined 31 percent from the field in these two games, and this is what that looks like:
Seems like they just need to take some more jumpers from the free-throw line, and everything will be fine.