Detroit — Sit and wait. Wait and sit.
Practice and be patient.
Tim Frazier has had to wait for his time to get some playing time, but now that it’s arrived, he’s making the most of it.
The Pistons (12-20) have gone through a period without a healthy point guard and through another dark time of turnovers raining from the sky like autumn leaves. Frazier has been prepared for his time.
And this appear to be it.
In his last three games, he’s contributed 37 points, including a season-high 17 in 26 minutes in Thursday’s win over the Washington Wizards. In the other 15 games Frazier has played this season, he totaled 36 points.
Moving Bruce Brown to the second unit and elevating Frazier to the starting group has paid dividends — at least so far. It’s the reason the Pistons sought Frazier in free agency, to ensure that they had an experienced option in case they had widespread injuries, which has come to pass.
“He’s been in that role so many times. With every team he’s been with. He’s been the third point guard and, in that position, you’ve got to be ready at any time — whether it’s a backup, or starter or whatever it is — you’ve got to be ready to roll,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s done a good job with that. We need that next ballhandler in that group and (Frazier) gives us that.
“It’s really two things: it allows Bruce to relax a little bit more in the second group and allows the game to come to him, and not feel like he’s got to run the team. He can just play basketball.”
After Reggie Jackson’s injury sidelined him following the first two games, Frazier started the next four games, he had modest numbers: 4.5 points and 4.8 assists in 20.4 minutes. He shot 33 percent and it was unclear what role Frazier might play moving forward.
Frazier, in his sixth season, is showing his savvy. The Pistons have been plagued by turnovers this season and without Jackson and Derrick Rose trying to reduce his mistakes, they’ve been looking for a bridge to help them get to smoother waters.
With Frazier shooting well from 3-point range — 7-of-9 in the last three games — it’s a good start to putting the pieces in the right places to try to turn things around.
“It’s a plus. Bruce was more relaxed with the second unit and all he had to do was play basketball, cut and defend his position,” Casey said. “I thought he did a better job where he didn’t have to worry about coming down and getting into the offense. That’s a lot for a second-year guy.”
For a point guard, it can be hard to watch the turnovers and not be able to help reduce them. Casey tried Brown as a point guard, but it didn’t improve their record or get them out of the slide.
Frazier and Rose helped Brown with the transition and looked to teach the second-year guard some of the skills to help him in the short term.
“You look in the mirror first and you try to figure out how can I help? How can I limit those turnovers that I created by putting the guys in bad positions and putting them in positions to succeed?” Frazier said. “So you look at that first and then from there you kind of just watch the film. Then it’s got to be a conscious effort from everybody on the team. Coach is harsh on that but limit our turnovers so that was one of the big things we want to focus on the last couple games.”
Ahead of the six-game western trip that begins Saturday, the Pistons are looking for an opportunity to turn the season around with a couple of wins. It’s one of the most grueling trips of the season with some difficult games against both Los Angeles teams and the Utah Jazz.
“We talked about it today, that it's a tough trip, but again it's part of the NBA; it’s our longest trip of the year. We’ve got to have a togetherness and toughness about us and mental toughness about us on this trip, more than anything else,” Casey said. “So it's a lot of stuff going on, but we got to be mentally tough and mentally focused as much as anything else on this trip.”
Pistons at Spurs
Tip-off: 8:30 Saturday, AT&T Center, San Antonio
Outlook: Since a 5-11 start, the Spurs have leveled off, going 7-7 in their last 14 games. The Pistons (12-20) got their most lopsided win of the season, topping San Antonio by 34 points on Dec. 1.