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Detroit Pistons’ Late Loss to Cleveland Cavaliers Shows Consistent Defense Still a Problem

February 13th, 2014 at 12:46 PM
By Max DeMara

For two quarters, the Detroit Pistons did everything they were supposed to do against the Cleveland Cavaliers, playing with passion and excitement much like the game before against the San Antonio Spurs. For all intents and purposes, the Cavaliers were a team they should have beaten.

'Kyrie Irving Shooting' photo (c) 2012, Erik Drost - license:

There was one problem, however. The Pistons seemed to forget there was a second half to be played defensively Wednesday. Outscored 53-38 in the final two quarters, Detroit fell apart down the stretch, lost many commanding leads and were defeated 93-89. It was Cleveland's fourth straight win, and now, they're officially a hotter Eastern Conference team than the Pistons once were heading into the All-Star break.

The worst part about the loss was the lack of defensive intensity during the last two halves. Detroit made the little mistakes, (not boxing out Tristan Thompson) along with big ones, allowing Cleveland star point guard Kyrie Irving to close the game out without nearly so much as a hand in his face in the fourth quarter. The Pistons allowed 40 points in the paint, only forced 10 turnovers and scored 10 fast break points the entire night.

What a difference one game makes. After playing nearly a perfect game against the Spurs on both ends of the floor Monday, Wednesday night's game showed the importance of defense to the Pistons' effort. Detroit needs to maintain a defensive intensity throughout a game in order to win. In the fourth quarter, while the offense shockingly departed for long stretches, the defense failed most late, leading greatly to the collapse.

John Loyer's biggest challenge the rest of the way will be trying to squeeze complete performances out of a Pistons team which has been content to check out for long stretches on both ends of the floor this season. It didn't help that Loyer pulled Andre Drummond out of a winnable game late with five fouls—the worst that could have happened was Drummond fouling out for overtime—but as a group, that could have been overcome had everyone maintained pride.

The best way for the Pistons to get back into the playoff picture and claw their way up the standings not shooting or finding quality looks, but good defense. This franchise has come to be known for tough, unrelenting defense throughout the years, and late lapses like the ones against Cleveland can't happen. For all those excited about the new voice and direction of the Pistons, little will change until the team finds pride when they don't have the ball.

Loyer needs to use the defensive tape from Monday's dominating win and Wednesday's heartbreaking loss to show complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Something in between both efforts would go a long way towards establishing some needed defensive consistency in Detroit.

Max DeMara is the editor at @detroitlions101 and a contributor for @Pistons_101 and @Tigers_101. Follow each to connect with him there on Twitter.

Tags: Andre Drummond, Basketball, Detroit, Detroit Pistons, John Loyer, Kyrie Irving, NBA, Tristan Thompson

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