On Dec. 30, the Pistons were outscored 28-12 in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Washington Wizards. After the game, Detroit coach Maurice Cheeks said, via Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:
“I can’t, I can’t … whew,” said Cheeks when asked if he could pinpoint the continuous letdowns in fourth quarters. “We got stagnant, we didn’t keep playing the way we did in those (first) three quarters. They kept scoring. We didn’t for whatever reason.”
Five off days – and three practices devoted to fourth-quarter struggles later, according to David Mayo of MLive – not much has changed. Not even Cheeks’ answers.
Sunday, the Pistons were outscored 33-17 in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. John Niyo of The Detroit News:
Cheeks held a question-and-answer session with his players before holding his usual shrug-fest with the media.
“I wasn’t necessarily talking about what happened,” the coach explained. “I was just trying to get some insight for myself. Because I didn’t have the insight this time. Normally I do. This time I didn’t.”
The Pistons are the NBA’s worst fourth-quarter team:
They’re both bad defensively and horrific offensively in the final period:
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Yet, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what goes wrong for Detroit late in games.
Maybe Brandon Jennings shoots too much down the stretch. Maybe the Pistons’ league-worst free-throw shooting matters more late. Maybe Cheeks just gets out-coached as teams make in-game adjustments.
Whatever the reason, the Pistons clearly didn’t find it in their long break. Now, they’ll need to search on the fly, and for a team that made no apparent progress with the luxury of three practices and five off days, that’s not encouraging.