Pistons’ defense not a pretty picture

The Detroit Pistons’ Rodney Stuckey dives for a ball along with Cleveland Cavaliers’ Samardo Samuels, left, and Daniel Gibson at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Wednesday, Dec. 28. (MCT Photo)

DETROIT — The Pistons see it every practice.

“We put it right up there for them,” coach Lawrence Frank said Thursday, pointing to a sign of team goals displayed on the wall of their practice gym. “We protect our paint first.”

But so far, the Pistons haven’t been protecting their paint — or much of anything in the defensive zone — through their first two games.

In their season-opening 91-79 loss to Indiana on Monday, they allowed more than a third of the Pacers points — 36 — in the paint.

In the 105-89 loss to Cleveland at home on Wednesday, they allowed almost half of the Cavaliers’ points — 52 — in the paint, and the Cavs shot 57.1 percent from the floor.

Then, the Pistons remained winless on the season with Friday night’s 96-85 loss to the Boston Celtics.

“I’d just say very disappointing,” Frank said of Wednesday’s defensive performance.

He called the defense what it is — a work in progress.

“There were some similarities,” Frank said, between the defensive breakdowns in the first two games, but “it’s not all of a sudden going to click. It’s going to be an everyday process and that’s where we’re at.”

The Celtics likely had a bad taste in their mouths after dropping their first three games before picking up their first win against the Pistons. And Frank knows the Celtics well, after serving as Doc Rivers’ top assistant coach last year.

“They’re fine,” Frank said. “They understand they’re a veteran team. … But for us, regardless of who we play, we have to go in expecting to do everything we can to win the game.

“On any given night, in this league, anything can happen.”

But Frank and the Pistons know they need to play better defensively, something they expect will come as they learn a new scheme.

“There’s a lot of details to how we teach,” Frank said. “It’s not rocket science but I would say it’s natural that, early on, there’s probably more thinking going on than instincts. But in order for us to be the type of defensive team we need to be, these are the kind of the growing pains we’re going to have to go through.”

ROOKIE HIGH: Brandon Knight ‘s 23 points on Wednesday made him the first Pistons rookie since Grant Hill in 1994 to score 20-plus points in his second career game.

Hill scored 25 points in his NBA debut against the Lakers and topped 20 points in each of the first six games of his career.

However, Frank was most impressed with Knight’s mental game on Wednesday.

“I thought his spirit was great throughout the night,” he said. “It was a very good offensive step and it’s going to be a process, but so far, from what we’ve seen, we have to be very encouraged.”


Posted by Tribune News Services

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