PER Diem: Dec. 22, 2008
The Pistons and Lions have something in common: They both can't win on Sunday.
OK, this is getting ridiculous.
The Pistons once again lost on Sunday, this time 85-78 to the Hawks. They have yet to win on a Sunday this season in six tries, although for the first time, they kept the losing margin to single digits. In football, the Lions also lost, 42-7 to the Saints, marking their 14th straight defeat on a Sunday (they did lose one game on Thanksgiving). And, lest we forget, the Tigers lost their final four Sunday outings as well, including a doubleheader sweep by the White Sox on Sept. 14.
Here are John Hollinger's top five NBA observations for Monday. Insider
• Raptors are in crisis mode
• Crawford no stranger to teams adrift
• Warriors' drive-and-kick approach
• The Bucks' surprising rankings
• OKC's offer to Krstic makes sense
If you're keeping track, Detroit's sports teams are 1-22 since Sept. 7. Only the Red Wings, 3-2 winners at Vancouver on Nov. 2 in their lone Sunday appearance, have been able to avoid the dreaded Detroit Sunday curse.
But the Pistons' case is the really perplexing one. The 2008 versions of the Lions and Tigers have been horrible at any point on the calendar, but Detroit's basketball team is 14-5 on the other six days of the week. Monday through Saturday, they've been good enough to beat the Lakers, Cavs and Spurs. On Sunday, they've been bad enough to suffer lopsided defeats to the Wolves and Knicks.
One gets the sense that Detroit coach Michael Curry has had enough. He called out Allen Iverson's shoddy defense after the game and noted A.I.'s tendency to be caught ball-watching, the outcome of which was six 3-pointers scored by Atlanta's Mike Bibby. This isn't news to anyone in Denver or Philadelphia, and in Detroit's nongambling defensive style, his play is a lot more problematic.
Curry also noted that Richard Hamilton had no business getting ejected in a six-point game with more than a minute left. The Pistons seem to be battling the refs as much as, or more than, their opponent, something that they're known to do. The difference is that now they aren't skilled enough to pull off a win after battling the refs.
Symbolic of that, and without the slightest hint of irony, the Detroit News posted the following notebook about the game. The first item is about Hamilton's protesting his ejection, the second item is about various Pistons whining about the free-throw disparity and the third item is about the team's complaints about Rasheed Wallace's two most recent technical fouls, which it hopes to have rescinded.
Anybody else notice a pattern here? It smacks of classic Pistons -- blaming everybody but themselves when things go wrong (although Iverson, to his credit, blamed himself for ball-watching as well). The only difference is that usually this doesn't happen until May.
Hamilton, for instance, was ejected the previous time the Pistons played on Sunday -- nothing new there. The free-throw disparity isn't notable, either -- Detroit is minus-2.8 per game for the season. And Wallace, even in the unlikely event that two of his 10 techs are rescinded, still will push for the league lead with eight -- he, Kendrick Perkins (nine) and Stephen Jackson (eight) are the only players who have racked up more than six.
Plenty of time remains this season, and Detroit certainly has enough depth and talent to recover from its rather mediocre start. But Sunday was a key loss -- Atlanta is now 3½ games ahead of Detroit for the No. 4 playoff seed and home-court advantage in the first round -- and the Pistons already have lost sight of the top three teams in the conference. Perhaps Curry's calling out his veterans will prove to be a turning point, but the Pistons have given little indication they're set for a U-turn.
And if you're wondering, the Pistons have 10 Sunday games left on their schedule meaning they still could lose more times on Sunday than the Lions this season.
John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here.
MORE NBA HEADLINES
- Thunder handle Grizzlies to win at home
- Well off pace: Hawks hammer No. 1 Indiana
- Warriors sink Clippers for Game 1 road win
- Nets claim opener as D-Will has 24
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
Hollinger's PER Diem
Want a deeper look into all of the latest NBA action? Check out John Hollinger's new daily column -- full of analysis, observations and more -- every Monday through Friday.
Jan. 13, 2009• PER Diem: Lakers-Rockets injury battle
• Insider: OKC's problems
Jan. 12, 2009• PER Diem: Magic join top ranks
• Insider: Portland travel problems
Jan. 9, 2009• PER Diem: Billups stealing the spotlight
• Insider: A can't miss game
Jan. 8, 2009• PER Diem: Sixers young spark
• Insider: Wolves continue to sizzle
Jan. 7, 2009• PER Diem: Boston's bench problem
• Insider: Miles won't wait too long
Jan. 6, 2009• PER Diem: Nuggets under luxury-tax line
• Insider: Tense few days for some teams
Jan. 5, 2009• PER Diem: Bucks, Pistons Ranking debate
• Insider: T-Mac's blatant mail-in job
Dec. 31, 2008• PER Diem: Spurs' playoff forecast
• Insider: Calderon's free-throw feat?
Dec. 30, 2008• PER Diem: The Year of the Great Divide
• Insider: Rip with a new role?
Dec. 29, 2008• PER Diem: Battle for top spot
• Insider: Portland's top offense
Dec. 24, 2008• PER Diem: The Good Bynum
• Insider: Passing of torch
Dec. 23, 2008• PER Diem: Magic near top crust
• Insider: O.J. making run at Rose
Dec. 22, 2008• PER Diem: Tough Sunday for Pistons
• Insider: Crisis mode for Raptors
Dec. 19, 2008• PER Diem: Orlando's lack of credit on D
• Insider: A big story up north
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 15 | 16 | 17 18
3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 24 | 25 | 26
28 | 29 | 30 | 31
- Sparo Men's Detroit Pistons Ghost Watch