Auburn Hills — It was now or never for the Pistons.
With their backs against the wall and on the cusp of being handed a first-round exit by the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pistons needed to muster everything they had to keep their season alive Sunday.
However, the reserve unit was without Reggie Bullock for Game 4 — the second straight game he missed due to an inflamed nerve in his left leg
According to coach Stan Van Gundy, the 6-foot-7 forward had an MRI on Saturday and the test results still didn’t discover exactly what was causing Bullock’s ailment.
“He’s got a loss of sensation in his leg,” Van Gundy said after the team’s morning shoot-around Sunday. “It’s not really a lot of pain but he just doesn’t feel it, which isn’t very good.”
Bullock absence left the Pistons with one fewer scoring option off the bench. He averaged six points through the first two playoff games, trailing only rookie Stanley Johnson (nine points).
In Game 1, Bullock provided a spark with eight points on 3-for-3 shooting in 9 minutes, 38 seconds. Then in Game 2, he had four points, two rebounds and two assists in 12:18.
“It’s a tough time for him, especially because Reggie had a year where he had a chance to play early and didn’t play real well, and then had to wait a long time to play,” Van Gundy said. “He took every advantage of that opportunity and has played well in the minutes we gave him in the playoffs.
“I feel bad for (Bullock) because I think he was really establishing something and it’s a tough time to be out. But he doesn’t have any control over it and we don’t even know how it happened or what’s going on.”
Van Gundy said Bullock’s absence could open an opportunity for guard Jodie Meeks and rookie Darrun Hilliard to receive some minutes.
But Van Gundy added he’d be hesitant to put in Meeks, who was out for the majority of the regular season with a foot injury and played in only three games.
“It’s tough for me. I know he played well in that last game (Apr. 13 regular-season finale at Cleveland), but that was totally different,” Van Gundy said. “That wasn’t with any of the guys that he would play against in this. I guess it’s a case of we’re playing the guys that have brought us here. I think for now, that’s our best team and that’s who we’re playing with.”
According to multiple reports, Andre Drummond won’t face any discipline for the apparent elbow he landed to the left side LeBron James’ shoulder and head/neck area in Game 3.
The incident occurred early in the second quarter when James was cutting to the rim off a pick-and-roll play and Drummond was straddling the right side of the key.
When asked if he had heard from the league about any sort of punishment being handed down to Drummond, Van Gundy said, “Andre didn’t land an elbow on him.”
Prior to the Cavaliers’ shoot-around on Sunday, James told reporters he was initially shocked that Drummond wasn’t penalized before adding, “Then I thought who he did it to and I wasn’t surprised.”
It’s not the first time things have gotten chippy between Drummond and James this series. In the fourth quarter of Game 2, forward Marcus Morris and Drummond appeared to simultaneously deliver a shot to James in the paint.
No foul was assessed in either instance.
Entering Sunday’s game, the Pistons’ 11-game playoff losing streak to the Cavaliers is tied for the second longest versus a single opponent in league history. The Lakers beat the Nuggets 11 straight times (1985-2009). The SuperSonics hold the longest futile mark with 12 in a row to the Lakers (1980-89).