Orlando — The Pistons loss to the Orlando Magic Tuesday night had a familiar look to it.
Pistons fans haven’t seen a performance like it since ... well, since the last time the team went to Orlando a month ago and was blown out by one of the league’s worst teams.
This time, they added a little internal confrontation as the long faces of frustration boiled over to a flash of anger in their 112-98 loss to a team that’s clearly looking forward to next year.
The second quarter was the Pistons’ undoing as they put together perhaps their worst 12 minutes of the season. They were outscored 31-17 and committed six careless turnovers, but the ugly basketball didn’t stop there.
The tempers flared and the frustration of a disappointing game and season began to boil. Will Bynum and Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks began jawing at each other on the Pistons’ bench at the 8:52 mark.
Bynum, not usually the mouthy type, hadn’t had a good run to start the quarter, and Cheeks called a timeout to remove him for Josh Smith with the Pistons trailing 32-28. Bynum clearly wasn’t happy with the decision.
“It’s part of the game. We had a few words and we moved on,” Cheeks said. “That’s it. Nothing to elaborate on. Not the first time I’ve had words with a player, won’t be the last.”
It took Chauncey Billups and Smith to calm Bynum down as the timeout wound down but the faraway look on Bynum’s face told it all, as he didn’t hear Cheeks call his name for the rest of the night.
Bynum, perhaps the most brutally honest person in the locker room, declined comment after the game. Even though he’s been on rosters that have had their share of player-coach squabbles, he has never been involved.
“It was my choice. Heat of the game,” Cheeks said. “I didn’t have a chance to talk to him yet. I had a team to coach at halftime. I wasn’t worried about Will Bynum at halftime.
“We’ll discuss whatever we need to discuss. The game was more important than me and Will, as far as I’m concerned.”
But Bynum, and the horrendous shooting night from starting point guard Brandon Jennings, were only part of the Pistons’ problems, as the lead swelled to 14 at the half, with the Magic taking away the Pistons’ strength on the glass and taking advantage of the terrible decision-making.
“The second quarter we didn’t take advantage of the guys they had on the floor,” Cheeks said. “If we turned the ball over, we didn’t get back (on defense). Our pick-and-roll defense was not good. It was a lot of things that allowed them to build a lead.”
Jennings shot 5-for-23 in 43 minutes, scoring 15 with 10 assists, but the Pistons looked as if playing defense was the most foreign concept in the world as they ceded layup after layup.
“It’s a domino effect, when one things happens on one side of the floor, it trickles over to the other side,” said center Andre Drummond, who finished with 15 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks but had his hands full with Nik Vucevic and Kyle O’Quinn. O’Quinn (six blocks) seemed to play volleyball with Jennings, repeatedly blocking his shot when Jennings drove down the lane.
The frustration was evident on Drummond’s face afterward.
“It’s tough. I can’t stand losing,” Drummond said. “I hate it with a passion but you have to stay positive.”
Monroe was torched by Glen Davis and completely ineffective on the offensive end while the game was close. Cheeks needed him to anchor a second unit that hadn’t spent much, if any, time on the floor together before he replaced Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with Kyle Singler in the starting lineup, and Monroe (12 points, four rebounds) didn’t get going until the third quarter.
“That was a key, the way they rebounded the ball,” Cheeks said. “They did a lot of things well, especially inside the paint. What was discouraging, they continued to lay the ball in, particularly in the first half.”