The Detroit Pistons were the feel-good story of the Eastern Conference five nights ago.
Three losses later and it’s back to gloom and doom.
Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans handed the Pistons a 118-103 loss Monday night at Little Caesars Arena.
Davis scored 38 points and the Pelicans (30-26) scored inside (52 points in the paint) and outside (14 3-pointers).
Coach Stan Van Gundy’s defensive system is geared toward taking away easy layups, but for the second straight game, the Pistons didn’t take anything away.
It’s a far cry from the emotion that carried the Pistons (27-29) to a five-game winning streak right after the blockbuster trade for power forward Blake Griffin on Jan. 29.
Fatigue has set in on a roster still scrambling to recover from the absence of point guard Reggie Jackson, who went down Dec. 26 with a severe right ankle sprain.
A member of the Detroit Pistons Dance Team performs while playing the New Orleans Pelicans at Little Caesars Arena on Feb. 12, 2018. Gregory Shamus, Getty Images
A roster that is also trying to incorporate new pieces in Griffin and trade deadline acquisitions Jameer Nelson and James Ennis.
“I just think the adjustment period is starting to come into effect,” center Andre Drummond said after collecting 13 points and 21 rebounds.
“We played off excitement and energy the first few games that (Griffin) was here and now that we’ve settled it, it’s more of trying to figure out how to get past that first step.
“It’s just trying to figure things out from there.”
Griffin has struggled shooting, but was better Monday with an 8-for-17 showing from the field.
But he committed five of the team’s 14 turnovers.
Flawless offensive execution couldn’t overcome the myriad of defensive breakdowns.
Fox Sports Detroit ran a breakdown following the game of the many times Griffin failed to pick up an interior player who would score easily.
“You guys all saw them,” Van Gundy said. “We were terrible defensively. I don’t think we did anything very well.
“When you’re not back in transition, when you won’t put your body between the ball and the basket. We weren’t physical or tough enough. It was a disappointing night coming off a bad defensive night last night. I would have expected a little more commitment than what we had.”
The Pistons allowed 118 points in a loss to the woeful Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.
The roller-coaster of a season continues for the Pistons.
There was the 14-6 start.
There was the seven-game losing streak.
There was the eight-game losing skid.
There was the recent five-game winning streak.
And now they stand three games behind the eighth-place Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot.
Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy reacts during the 118-103 loss to the Pelicans at Little Caesars Arena on Feb. 12, 2018. (Photo: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)
“I would say this team has been a little bit more of a roller-coaster as far as high highs and low lows,” forward Anthony Tolliver said.
“We just have to play harder, play better so we can get more wins.”
Van Gundy would bristle at calling Wednesday night’s home game against the Hawks a must-win game.
But with seven days off for the break following, a win would be nice for the mental well-being of team members.
“You can’t just limp into the break,” Van Gundy said. “We need to get a win and keep ourselves as close to in this thing as we can to make a run.”