Pistons hold players-only meeting after another setback

Rod Beard


Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy shouts out instructions to his team in the first quarter.

Auburn Hills — Reggie Jackson has been back in the Pistons’ starting lineup for eight games since missing the first 21 games of the season because of knee tendinitis issues.

In those eight games, the Pistons are 3-5 and have wallowed around .500 during that stretch, alternating wins and losses in the first seven games before Saturday’s 15-point loss to the Indiana Pacers at The Palace.

Coach Stan Van Gundy said there were issues with ball movement and shot distribution, which could lead to some bigger changes in the starting lineup.

And there was a players-only meeting in the locker room following the loss.

“We’ve definitely got to look at some things — lineup- and rotation-wise,” Van Gundy said. “That unit is clearly not working — at least not right now.”

Since Ish Smith went to the bench upon Jackson’s return, the offense has been uneven, but it’s not due solely to that change. After ranking as one of the top starting lineups in the league last season, the quintet has struggled to match that production this season.

With Smith among the starters, they didn’t run as much pick-and-roll, but with Jackson back at the controls, it’s back to their bread-and-butter play call, which isn’t as effective because Jackson doesn’t have the burst nor finishing ability that made him one of the top players in the league in the fourth quarters of games last season.

“In fairness, that lineup, even before Reggie came back, that starting lineup with Ish was outscored by opponents, too. Not by as much, but outscored by opponents, so that has not been as good a lineup,” Van Gundy said. “We were surviving basically because our bench was coming in and outplaying people, but our starting lineup has not been as good as it should be. It hasn’t been as good as it was a year ago, certainly.”

While he might sense there’s a need to make a change, there’s no indication of what that change might be, whether it’s inserting Jon Leuer into the starting lineup for either Marcus Morris or Tobias Harris or adjusting how many minutes Jackson gets in a starting role.

“We have to look at some things, you know? But you want to make a move for well-thought-out reasons,” Van Gundy said, “something you think could help — not just ‘Well, we’ve got to make a change, so we’ll just change anybody.’

“So that’s where we’ve got to give it some thought. But I’m not happy with that unit at all.”

As Jackson continues to get back to peak form, the discontent with shot selection and distribution remains an issue. It’s only an eight-game sample size with Jackson back, but it’s something that can’t be ignored.

“You don’t want to take the problems too lightly, because you’re getting into the season, and you’ve got to correct the problems — you don’t want them to steamroll. And at the same time, you also don’t want to lose perspective,” Van Gundy said. “We’re not 6-23. We’re not 25th in the league, defensively. We’re talking an eight-game stretch, at best, where there’s been some good performances, and some bad, and then two really bad ones, back-to-back.

“And three straight home games. So we’re still talking a fairly small sample size. It’s certainly worthy of concern, but not worthy of panic. Just worthy of look in the mirror, decide what’s best, make some changes, individually and as a team, and we go from there.”


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard