Detroit Basketball

Jerami Grant was apologetic in the aftermath of the Pistons’ loss to the Clippers yesterday, and with good cause. True, he had a stellar stat line of 28 points, three rebounds, and four assists in 36 minutes of play. At the same time, it included four fouls and three turnovers, the last of which enabled the visitors to tie the match with a trey and set up the unlikely victory. Which was why he readily owned up to the setback. “I’ll take the blame for it,” he said. “I made a couple mistakes in the end.”

By all accounts, the Pistons should have won the game. Forget their 16-38 slate, dead last in the Eastern Conference and just a shade better than that of the league-worst Timberwolves. After all, they were up against the severely decimated Clippers, whose five best players could not suit up due to an assortment of reasons. And never mind that Little Caesars Arena was allowed to take in only 750 spectators due to local health and safety protocols. Their opponents were on the second night of a back-to-back set, ripe for the picking.

Under the circumstances, Grant’s late-game misstep was a microcosm of the Pistons’ dismal position. They have myriad problems, and it’s fair to argue that they’re bound to get worse before trekking the road to progress. Nonetheless, there can be no glossing over the missed opportunity. And instead of boosting morale, the outcome served to lower it. Up against what was tantamount to a junior-varsity version of the otherwise-vaunted Clippers, they literally dropped the ball, with their supposed cornerstone taking the heat.

So the Pistons wound up in familiar territory: They came close, but no cigar. And they have only themselves to condemn for the development. Too bad, really, because they deserve better. Their fans do, as well. All the disappointment won’t kill them, but the jury’s out on whether their experience is making them stronger. They’ve been there and done that, and yet they keep on encountering the same old, same old.

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.