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Philadelphia — Greg Monroe was as frustrated as he has been in his time in Detroit, issuing strong statements that indicated he believed this team had become satisfied by merely crawling back into playoff contention for the first time in ages.

Stan Van Gundy used the words "embarrassing" and "humiliating" to describe the Pistons' 20-point loss to the woeful 76ers, their fourth straight loss and third since absorbing Brandon Jennings' season-ending Achilles injury.

"We weren't ready to play," Van Gundy said. "I never coached a game where one team's effort was that much better than my team's effort. It was a joke. They played so much harder."

Caron Butler essentially said it's gut-check time for this team going forward.

"For one, I think, just reflect how far we've come and how hard we've worked to get back into this thing and make the adjustments," he said Wednesday. "There's no calvary coming over the hill to save nobody and nobody's gonna feel sorry for you."

Butler has gone through it, and almost seemed to foreshadow this team emotionally flatlining, which the Pistons appear to have done — after riding the wave of positive vibes and emotions over the last month.

But the way the Pistons failed to compete had Butler just as frustrated, considering he's a veteran who's supposed to add contributions in the nooks and crannies of games — and he can't do that if the main players aren't carrying the load.

"I think that's a sign of — it could be a combination of youth, not having been in that situation before but I think losing over the years should have you, wired up," he said. "Man, we had a great opportunity against a really good Cleveland team (Tuesday) night, where guys played great. We fought and a few calls didn't go our way, didn't make a couple shots. Now we have an opportunity to bounce back and get a quality win against an energetic team and we didn't match their energy."

He's been on the other side of this, a different type of powerless. In 2011 as a member of the Mavericks, he blew out his knee on New Year's Day — in Milwaukee, no less. Of course, the Mavericks stunned the NBA world that spring with Butler out for the season, but immediately following his injury they were in the midst of a seven-game losing streak.

"Like I said when Brandon got hurt, it's gonna take a couple games to shake that off," Butler said. "We gotta figure out what's gonna be our new format for success. Stay in high spirits and don't be so emotional. You can't be so high and so great, they call those guys front runners."

The worst thing for a player is to be called a "front runner", it's essentially saying he or a team is mentally weak and can only function when conditions are perfect.

"When adversity hits you gotta find the median and stay the course," Butler said. "We tend to get down on ourselves extremely fast when we're down. We started this game off bad and we put ourselves in a hole and we exerted so much energy to get back into it, we can't do that."

If it's true the Pistons aren't mulling a major move — which can't be completely taken at face value considering the emergence of Anthony Tolliver has made Jonas Jerebko expendable in theory — then perhaps the Pistons will have to change their style of play.

Their defense has been bad, but their shooting has been worse. The swingman, Butler, Kyle Singler, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jodie Meeks, have put up horrific shooting numbers. The last three games, they've combined to shoot 24 percent and 19 from 3-point range.

Giving Monroe more touches seems to be the logical solution, but that hasn't been used in application.

"I mean, you can always make more shots," Monroe said. "But the total effort, that's what it was tonight. Guys miss shots. People miss shots. Some games you're a little off. Tonight was about effort."

It would help if they would make some shots, too.

vincent.goodwill@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/vgoodwill

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