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With apologies to the the great Paul Simon, the Detroit Pistons’ chances of reaching the playoffs are slip slidin’ away.
The 112-90 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena was Detroit’s third straight, all on the road, and its ninth defeat in its last 11 games.
The Pistons (29-35) hung around for a half, trailing by five points, but over overwhelmed by the Cavaliers, being outscored, 36-21, that ballooned Detroit’s deficit to 20 points entering the fourth quarter.
Despite the struggles, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy is holding on to his belief Detroit can still qualify for postseason play. However, the Pistons trail the Heat (34-20) by five games — with Miami also holding the tiebreaker — in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s possible to do it; the problem is it’s getting late and it has to come like now,” Van Gundy, whose team has only 18 games left in the season, said. “We have to get some wins and do it now. Do I have the confidence it can be done? Absolutely.”
Blake Griffin, acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers several days before the NBA trade deadline, did all he could to keep the Pistons in it. He scored 25 points and added eight rebonds and five assists. He shot 10-of-22 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3.
However, the rest of the Pistons made but 24-of-65 shots (37 percent) and didn’t provide Griffin with much help. Only Andre Drummond (15 points, 9 boards) did much else and he was outplayed by Cleveland’s Larry Nance (career highs with 22 points and 15 rebounds), making his first start as a Cavalier, in the pivot.
“We’re just not giving ourselves much of a chance to play well because we’re playing so frustrated — frustrated with the referees, frustrated even more by the ball not going in the basket,” Van Gundy said. “We’re a very frustrated group right now. It’s very hard to play like that.”
Detroit shot just 39 percent from the floor against the Cavaliers, who were torched for 73 first-half points, 126 in the game, along with 19 3-pointers by the Nuggets 48 hours previous.
Van Gundy pointed the finger at himself for his team’s offensive struggles.
“I have to take the responsibility. I’m obviously not getting the right shots for the right people. I’m not finding the answers, so I’ve got to take responsibility, too,” he said. “I’m not leaving it on them. I don’t come in here and lay it all on them.”