Auburn Hills — Stan Van Gundy made it very clear with reporters at practice on Tuesday afternoon he’s not going to feel sorry for himself and that the Pistons have to move forward by keeping their focus on the things they can control.
With the Pistons five games out of the playoff hunt with 18 games remaining and Van Gundy’s job status becoming more of the narrative around the team, the coach said the only way to go from this point is forward.
“I can’t do anything about the fact that we’ve lost nine out of 11,” Van Gundy said. “It bugs the crap out of me, but there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. You keep your focus on the only thing you can do something about, which is the way we play against Toronto tomorrow night.”
Van Gundy was adamant that it’s hard for a coach to walk into a locker room and tell guys that they need to make more shots. It’s taking care of the fundamentals that are going to make their lives easier.
“The way we’re going to get better is by focusing on what we need to do and what we can control,” he said. “We can run back on defense, we can set screens, we can block out with the ball in the air. Those things, over the course of a 48-minute game, can make a big difference.
“Everything’s harder when you’re not winning, but it’s not an excuse. What do you want? People to feel sorry for you? That’s not going to happen. You’ve got to step up and do your job.”
Jackson continues push for comeback
Reggie Jackson has been ramping up his workload as he continues to try and get back in time to help salvage the Pistons season.
Van Gundy said Jackson went through 20 minutes of “good, hard shooting” with the guards on Tuesday, saying he looked good but that those drills are a long way from what his point guard will experience when he gets back on the court.
“We’ve just got to take every day and see where he is,” Van Gundy said.
After being asked if it would be in the best interest of the Pistons to shut Jackson down for the season with there being such a faint shot of the team making the playoffs, Van Gundy scoffed.
“He’ll play whenever he’s healthy,” he said. “There’s no reason to shut him down when he’s healthy. He’s got a sprained ankle. It takes time to heal, but when he’s ready to go, he’ll go.”
Where does Smith fit?
Since the acquisition of Blake Griffin in late January, the Pistons have started to run the offense through their new power forward, and it’s left many wondering where Ish Smith fits with the starting lineup.
Smith is a dreadful outside shooter (25 percent from 3-point land) and very rarely creates his own offense. So if he’s not running the offensive sets by getting everybody in position, and he can’t hit open looks from the outside, it’s fair to ponder what he’s bringing to the table by starting night in, night out.
“The problem is that (Smith’s) role is to get the ball and push it,” Van Gundy said. “We’re not getting the ball to him on outlets enough and, quite honestly, we haven’t been good enough defensively to get out and run. Where (Smith) is at his best is when the ball’s going up and down the floor.”
There doesn’t appear to be a viable solution to this problem on Van Gundy’s bench, as Langston Galloway is more of a shooting guard and Jameer Nelson hasn’t logged any minutes in the Pistons last five contests.
At this point, the only relief Van Gundy can get from the point guard spot would come in the form of Jackson’s return.
Geoff Robinson is a freelance writer.