AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — It was a night when the Detroit Pistons had a real chance to make a statement — to their own fans as much as anyone.
There was finally a bit of a buzz at the Palace — but that was mostly because of the presence of Utah rookie Trey Burke, who was a college star at Michigan before being passed over by the Pistons in last year's draft. With Burke in the opposing lineup and a decent crowd in attendance, Detroit had an opportunity to earn a little respect.
Instead, the Pistons lost by 21 in one of their most listless performances of the season.
"There's a lot of things that went wrong," guard Will Bynum said. "After having a week full of great practices . to come out and play like this, it was disappointing."
Detroit is actually in position to make the playoffs, because most of the Eastern Conference is mired in mediocrity at the moment — but the Pistons have still been one of the NBA's most perplexing teams this season. Detroit is 17-23, only two games better than at this point in 2012-13. That's good enough for a spot among the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference right now, but after the Pistons added Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings in the offseason, fans were hoping for more.
There was always going to be an adjustment period after so many significant changes — new coach Maurice Cheeks was also added during the offseason. But this season is now about half over, and it's fair to wonder if this new-look roster will need another makeover before the stretch run.
After their poor performance at home against Utah on Friday night, the Pistons went on the road and beat Washington 104-98 for their third win in four games. Smith had 22 points and eight rebounds.
"It was a disappointing and embarrassing loss last night and we wanted to be able to come in and give as much energy as possible to beat a hot Wizards team," Smith said after Saturday's win. "They've been winning as of late, they have a pretty good team over there and we just wanted to be able to come in and match that intensity."