Los Angeles — Pistons owner Tom Gores got a chance to get an up-close-and-personal look at the team at the tail end of the six-game West Coast trip.
Gores was at Saturday afternoon’s matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center and had a courtside seat to see the much-improved Pistons, who started got out of the gate, going 5-1.
“It’s an exciting start,” Gores said at halftime of the 101-96 loss to the Clippers, which was the Pistons third straight loss on the road trip and dropped them to 5-4.
Gores is happy with the job that president/coach Stan Van Gundy has done with reshaping the roster and having a more competitive product on the floor that passes the eye test.
With a big road win over the Atlanta Hawks to start the season and some tough home wins, including over the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, things are looking up for the team that started 5-23 last season before finishing with a 27-27 flurry.
“We’re playing well, with a couple tough games. The fact is there’s a real system out there and the chemistry is really incredible in this team,” Gores said. “They’re working hard — even in our losses, they’re working very hard.”
With so many new pieces on the revamped roster, Gores is confident that things can get turned around quickly and the Pistons can push toward the playoffs this season, after missing the postseason for the past six years.
“We have (continuity) right now. Stan would tell you the same thing; we have real continuity, these guys get along well and there is no selfishness on the court,” he said. “They want to win and they understand they’re in for the long term. We’re fortunate with what we did this summer to be where we are today.”
The Pistons finish the six-game road trip with Sunday night’s game against the Lakers at Staples Center before returning to play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday at The Palace.
While the Pistons’ passing and ball movement have been serious concerns in recent games, they started the game looking like those are concerns of the past, with their play in the first half.
They started 10-of-12 from the field in the first quarter and had seven assists on those baskets.
On one early possession, all five players touched the ball as it rotated on the perimeter, ending with an open 3-point basket by Reggie Jackson, who had 20 points, including 2-of-6 on triples.
“Early in the game, (the movement) was good,” Van Gundy said.
What Van Gundy didn’t like was the choices on the pick-and-roll, which became predictable and the Clippers were able to adjust.
It’s just another tweak the Pistons will have to make offline and try to correct before Sunday’s game — but with Monday off, there isn’t a lot of practice time to make big changes on the fly.
“The switching sort of took us out of it and they were able to run pick-and-rolls, put two guys on the ball, on Reggie, not take the roll man and we never threw the ball to our (center) and they were able to stay spread out. So, we didn’t do a very good job.
Dud from the line
Andre Drummond’s free-throw shooting again became a focus, as he was fouled intentionally and put on the free-throw line during critical times of the game. He went 6-of-14 in the game, with 1-of-6 in the first three quarters.
In the final period, he went 5-of-8, splitting pairs of foul shots before hitting both at a critical juncture, down by three with 53.3 seconds left. As the Pistons trailed down the stretch, it was a tough call for Van Gundy to keep Drummond in the game, knowing the Clippers were going to try to foul him intentionally.
“I’d like to leave him in and he did make a couple late — he went 1-of-2 (three times) but we were at the point in the game where we were behind and we couldn’t be playing for one point,” Van Gundy said. “I hate to take him out and then all your rhythm goes out because you’re just standing around and you don’t have an offensive possession.”
Van Gundy said he would have like to have fouled the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, another notoriously bad free-throw shooter, but the Pistons weren’t in the penalty, so they would have had to foul repeatedly to get in that situation.
Pistons vs. Lakers
Tipoff: 9:30 tonight, Staples Center, Los Angeles
Outlook: The Pistons will try to stop their three-game skid and finish the six-game road trip with a .500 record. The Lakers have lost four straight and are 0-3 at home this season.