Pistons close season with victory over Knicks

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

New York — Another ugly problem that has plagued the Pistons for most of the season nearly ruined the final game for them.

Their perimeter defense has been a problem, and it is something Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy wants to address in the offseason. This time it was former Michigan star Tim Hardaway Jr. who lit up the Pistons for 25 points. Although the Pistons pulled away for a 112-90 victory Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, Hardaway was a major pain.

The season is done for the Pistons (32-50). Now the real work begins.

Van Gundy now trades in his coaching hat for his front office shirt and tie. His focus is watching draft-eligible players in college and overseas.

"We will take the best guy," Van Gundy said.

If that is the case, the Pistons better hope the best player available is a wing player who can shoot the rock and defend. It can either be a small forward or a stretch four. If New York Knicks boss Phil Jackson is known for the triangle offense, then Van Gundy is known for The Stretch offense.

While Van Gundy coached Wednesday night, owner Tom Gores showered him with praise and even called this a fantastic season. Gores did not say the 2015-2016 season is playoffs or bust, but he believes good times are ahead.

"Whatever it is Stan and I will agree on it," Gores said. "I feel like it is our time. Even though our record does not reflect it I believe we made a lot of progress. I really do."

The Pistons must prepare for life without power forward Greg Monroe, even though he said Wednesday he would not rule out returning to the Pistons. Gores said he will get involved in the recruiting process for Monroe.

"I have a connection with these players," Gores said. "I made a decision a long time ago to get involved with these players. I am not afraid to do that."

Van Gundy likes shooters, especially guys who can make three-point shots. There is a reason for that. Eight of the top 10 three teams that took the most 3-point shots made the playoffs.

The Pistons failed to make the playoffs because they have shooters who cannot shoot. The Pistons stretched the floor but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Anthony Tolliver, Caron Butler and Reggie Jackson did not hit enough threes. They ranked 19th in the league, hitting 34. 4 percent of their threes and were 29th in overall field goal percentage (43.1 percent).

If they can spread the floor and make shots, that opens things up for Reggie Jackson to attack the rim and for Andre Drummond to work inside without facing as many double teams.

The other issue is defense. The Pistons are not a good defensive team and they must address that through the draft or through better coaching. Van Gundy put himself on notice.