After thrashing, Pistons regroup for home stretch

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Reggie Jackson

Auburn Hills — Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy stewed following the 43-point loss to the Washington Wizards on Monday night.

His postgame press conference lasted 31 seconds; three fewer than the number of assists that Washington had in its fourth-largest blowout in franchise history.

Coaches typically give players a day to celebrate a big win or simmer over a defeat.

Monday’s loss was on another level; Van Gundy still hadn’t gotten it all out of his system, but had to move on anyway before Tuesday’s practice.

“It all depends on when you see and when most people see me is right after a game. If we play a game like that, yeah, I’m miserable,” Van Gundy said Wednesday. “Some of those games take me (a while). I was probably pretty miserable yesterday too. It takes me a day.

“Whenever it’s time to get ready for the next game, I’m usually fine. Until then, I can be miserable.”

The Pistons (34-33) are ready to move on to the remaining 15 games of the season, starting a stretch of nine straight at home, beginning with the Atlanta Hawks tonight. There’s little margin for error, as the Pistons are in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and in danger of missing out on the playoffs for the seventh straight season.

Point guard Reggie Jackson said it's not as simple as just flipping the light switch and getting ready for the home stretch and preparing for the playoffs; there’s an intensity that should already be there.

Lack of focus plagues Pistons� recent starts

“I hope everybody’s ramped up; we should have been ramped up since we got out of (All-Star) break,” Jackson said. “We can’t keep having these ups and downs; we have to figure out who we are and be consistent and give ourselves a chance to win each and every night.”

Although Jackson said there’s been no recent team meeting to address the inconsistencies and poor play, there was a common disappointment with Monday’s performance and a willingness to move forward.

“We’ve had this meeting too many times; talked about it too many times. You either have to do it or you don’t. You have to want to do it or you don’t and you figure out who we are,” Jackson said. “Sometimes, you can take losses; it’s the way you lose. We’ve got to compete and go out here and show that we want to continue to play or show that we’re ready for summer.”

For Van Gundy, it was the same consistent message about treating every game like it matters and cleaning up on their mistakes before they come to bite them again.

“I talked to them yesterday about what I thought and what my concerns were,” Van Gundy said. “We were pretty honest and today was a new day; they came with really good spirits and are ready to get going.”

Spot open

After the Pistons signed forward Justin Harper to a pair of 10-day contracts, they decided not to sign him for the remainder of the season. That leaves an open roster spot, which give the Pistons the flexibility to add a player from any position if there’s an injury or need.

“Right now, we don’t have a specific need,” Van Gundy said. “We’ll just hold it and if a need arises, we’ll be able to do something pretty quickly.”

General manager Jeff Bower has been keeping track of potential short-term signees, but the Pistons are trying to be more financially conservative as well as maintaining the roster flexibility.

With Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver back from injury the past two games and Spencer Dinwiddie (ankle) and Jodie Meeks (toe) back, the Pistons are as healthy as they’ve been since the first week of the season.

That left little opportunity for Harper to see more action.

“We were back to having three guys who can play the (power forward), so the chances he was going to play weren’t good,” Van Gundy said. “Giving him the contract for the rest of the year wouldn’t have killed our flexibility — you could cut somebody anyway — but trying to be fiscally prudent, it didn’t make sense.”

Harper played in five games and averaged 2.6 points, including nine points against the Toronto Raptors on Feb. 28.