Foster: Pistons' skid doesn't bode well for playoff bid

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

With a trip out West on the calendar, Wednesday's loss to the Pelicans hurt the Pistons in their quest to earn a postseason berth.

As the season winds down, we'll take a look at some key issues facing the team.

News: The Pistons enter Friday night's game against the Rockets 31/2 games behind the Hornets for the final playoff spot in the East.

Views: Their chances of making the playoffs are diminished greatly with this four-game skid that probably will be extended to five Friday.

The problem is, there are six teams vying for two spots, and the Pistons would have to jump all but one to get into the postseason. And it isn't likely they can do that with 22 games to play.

The good news is the Pistons play five of the six — Hornets, Celtics, Heat, Nets and Pacers — eight times down the stretch.

News: What's the problem?

Views: Chemistry.

They gave up a lot of team chemistry when they traded Kyle Singler, D.J. Augustin and Jonas Jerebko. None are really starters, but they all played their roles well.

The big one is Augustin, who after taking over for Brandon Jennings (injured) played better than current Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (trade).

Jackson is the better player, but Augustin understood his teammates. Jackson is still adjusting.

News: Is the Reggie Jackson trade a bust?

Views: For now it is. Long term, it could be of great value if the Pistons can sign him and he embraces leading a team.

It might take the rest of the season for Jackson to get comfortable — he's also putting way too much pressure on himself — with his teammates. It seems as if he isn't playing as much as he is auditioning for a role.

News: What about the defense?

Views: The problem is Greg Monroe is not a great defender, and Andre Drummond is often a step slow because he's learning how to play defense.

When you break the Pistons down, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the only plus defender in the starting lineup. Tayshaun Prince is savvy and can still get the job done.

News: The Pistons will see one more MVP candidate on this trip. If you were starting a team, would you pick Houston guard James Harden or New Orleans big man Anthony Davis as the building block?

Views: That's easy. Davis is an incredible talent and covers more of the floor defensively. He had 39 points and eight blocks against the Pistons on Wednesday.

Harden is a scoring machine and plays with more passion, but can't impact a game like Davis.

News: How is coach Stan Van Gundy holding up?

Views: He's miserable — and loving it.

Pistons at Rockets

Tip-off: 8 p.m. Friday, Toyota Center, Houston

TV/radio: FSD/WMGC

Outlook: The Pistons visit former teammate Josh Smith, who has been more effective coming off the bench. ... The Rockets lost their last home game by two points to the Grizzlies.