Auburn Hills — The look of frustration was painted all over Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s face as he sat on the floor scrambling to get up from a bad fall.
He’d just been juked by Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner, who finger-rolled an easy layup after spinning by a frustrated Caldwell-Pope. It was one of those nights for the Pistons, who spit out a bitter post-holiday dud during a 99-93 loss Saturday night to the Boston Celtics.
There was little ball movement and the team concept that coach Stan Van Gundy worked so hard to build disappeared for a night. Case in point was point guard Reggie Jackson who finished with 17 points but had just two assists. When Jackson doesn’t hum, the Pistons usually fail. They shot just 38.5 percent from the field and were 6-for-25 (24 percent) from the 3-point line.
The Pistons also missed easy shots. Andre Drummond, for example finished with 22 points and 22 rebounds, but was 9-for-21 from the field.
“We have had trouble in a good part of the year if you look at our percentages,” Van Gundy said. “We miss layups. All of his (Drummond’s) shots were around the basket. But when the ball doesn’t move and there is no crispness and no energy that is what ends up happening. It is all products of the same thing. I thought we were pretty lethargic offensively.”
For weeks the talk was how bad the bench has been. Now the Pistons starters are getting off to bad starts that cripple the team. The Pistons are pretty simple: If Jackson and Drummond are energetic and productive, then so is the entire team.
“We tried to push the ball, we were just turning it over,” Jackson said. “I don’t think anybody can have success when the ball changes hands for much of the game.”
Despite their pratfalls the Pistons hung in the game until former Piston Jonas Jerebko sank an 18-foot jumper with 10.7 seconds remaining to put Boston up, 97-93. They were his only points of the game.
“The clock was winding down, they were sinking in,” Jerebko said. “They got me open. I knew I had Steve Blake on me so I knew I could get my shot off and I made it.”
Earlier Jackson hit a 3-point shot after a pump fake to make the score 95-93 with 31.9 remaining. The crowd was standing in anticipation of a dramatic comeback but Jerebko spoiled the evening.
“We ended up with a guy on him and he hit a pull-up jumper,” Van Gundy said. “We were going to match up and we were going to play to get a stop. If we get a stop we will have time but we didn’t get a stop.”
KCP wasn’t the only frustrated Piston. Jackson fell out of his groove and Ersan Ilyasova could not guard the post when asked to. And the final bit of frustration came from the crowd and the Pistons when officials called Jackson for a blocking foul on Isaiah Thomas with under a minute to go. That sent a pretty big crowd at The Palace home angry.
“I don’t know where my feet were,” Jackson said. “I was trying to get a charge. I don’t know the exact rule. I was trying to stand there. I don’t know if I was in the restricted area.”
But Johnson thought his teammate established himself, but sidestepped the issue to avoid a fine.
“The block call kills us,” Johnson said. “I know we didn’t play particularly well but I think the refs. ... it was a fair call but it killed us. That’s our problem and we have to fix that by getting into position.”
The Celtics were still steaming about a 119-116 here at The Palace 10 days ago.
“We were mad about the win,” Celtics forward Amir Johnson said. “We wanted to do something about it.”
The Pistons also dropped out of the final playoff spot during an evening of frustration that they took out on the referees and the Celtics. There were actually a couple of old-school shoves. Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas were not in the house, but their intensity was until the Pistons could no longer hold on.
“We are doing things we are not accustomed to,” Jackson said. “We turned the ball over. The team has to be better.”