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Road Rehash: Spurs Get Rocked in Detroit

Last night the San Antonio Spurs revisited the Palace at Auburn Hills hoping to keep the winning streak alive in the absence of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. Instead they get throttled by a young Detroit Pistons team missing their star rookie big man, Andre Drummond.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Detroit City


The Palace at Auburn Hills was once a coliseum of intimidation - Pillars of fire screaming upwards from behind the backboards. Endless deafening roars of engines, music, and "DETROIT BASKETBALL." Rowdy fans who made life hell for any attendee bold enough to wear colors outside of red and blue. For most of the Aughts, the Detroit Pistons were ruthless, trash talking gladiators of defense. A glorious callback to the Bad Boys of the 80's, the Palace at Auburn Hills was once a coliseum of intimidation.


Even with last night's victory, the Palace was dead in sound. It's been almost six full seasons since the last time the Pistons were of any relevance in the NBA. In the 2007-08' campaign, the Pistons finished second in the East at 59-23 and with an impressive home record of 34-7. Detroit lost in the Eastern Conference Finals that season to the eventual NBA champions, the Boston Celtics. Since then, life just hasn't been the same in the Palace. 2007-08' was the last winning season for the Pistons, who have since only returned to the playoffs one time (and were unceremoniously swept out in the first round). Since the 2008-09', Detroit's once vaunted home court advantage has produced a 91-93 record.

Unfortunately, that isn't the worst of the news for the Pistons franchise. Per game fan attendance for the Pistons this season is yet again at the bottom of the league at 74%. Last season the Detroit attendance was just over 65%, one of the worst in recent years for the NBA. Over the last decade, the Pistons have seen a 22.3% drop in attendance, putting the team in the top ten of all professional sports for declining attendance. Also keep in mind that these are the "announced" attendance numbers, which have about as much accuracy as a blind archer with Tourette syndrome.

It's as simple as "winners attract, losers repel" when talking about the fluctuation in fan attendance (the Lions and Tigers were able to pull in decent numbers) but for Detroit, the problem is two-pronged. The economy of Detroit has been suffering for what feels like forever. Recently, Detroit's official unemployment rate was roughly 1 out of 5 people though it is speculated that the actual (unofficial) number was much more severe. Since 2000, nearly 25% of the city's populous has moved on to different regions. This country is one-plus decade into the 21st century but many parts of the Detroit metropolitan area have the appearance of a 1980's Soviet satellite slum.

Yet there is some optimism rising from all this gloom and doom. Led by the once near-dead motor industry, the city of Detroit has been making a slow comeback. Though still higher than the national average, the unemployment rate has been cut in half and property value is heading back in the favorable direction. Crime rates are still getting worse but yet some business is starting to return. Detroit still has a big hole to climb out of but at least that hole stopped getting deeper for a troubled city. The Pistons will need to find that big star to help put butts in the seats but hopefully, for the sake of Detroit basketball, the return of money to the people's pockets will help alleviate the team's recent attendance woes.

Ode to Detroit

  • Based on consumption, Detroit is the potato chip "capital" of the world.
  • Despite all the blocks they get, Detroit is the third worst in the league in steals.
  • Detroit was the first city to pave a road.
  • Per career defensive statistics (various per game and efficiency statistics), Ben Wallace was the best defender to ever to play in Detroit. That says quite a bit.
  • Supplied over 75% of the liqour during prohibition. My great-grandfather thanks you, Detroit.
  • In case you didn't know, the Detroit Pistons used to be the Fort Wayne Pistons. They moved to Detroit in 1957.
  • Home of Kid Rock. No one thanks you, Detroit.
  • On December 13th, 1983, the Pistons beat the Nuggets in the highest scoring NBA game ever. Detroit won in triple overtime, 186-184.
  • Home of the world's largest tire - 12 tons and 80 feet tall. Because why not?

Detroit Breakdown

Please check out J. Gomez's post for a full recap of last night's game.

A defensive performance like that only fuels the fire of Spurs fans clamoring for a trade. Not that a player like Al Jefferson is a defensive juggernaut (he isn't) but a cardboard cutout could have done a better job defending than the Spurs did last night. And probably would have rebounded better too.

The Pistons are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA, averaging just under 95 points per game. Yet last night the Spurs defense made the Pistons look like the showtime Lakers (an exaggeration, obviously). Detroit feasted on easy points inside, grabbed 15 offensive boards, knocked down nearly half of their looks from beyond the arc, and only turned the ball over 12 times. Even a Skip Bayless can figure out that something like that is a winning formula.

Blowing Up Detroit

I can't believe he missed that one. Kawhi has a terrific in-between game.

- Sean Elliott commenting on a rough facet of Leonard's game.

Can't Tame the Lion












9 16 16 5 2 1 40

Greg Monroe was a beast inside for Detroit. Grabbing 5 offensive boards and recording a pair of highlight reel under-the-rim dunks. Monroe grabbed 16 boards, tying his season high.

Broken Man












2 7 3 1 1 2 24

Yeeahh... I almost completely forgot that he played last night. This is how little of impact he had in the game. Diaw just couldn't compete inside with Monroe and Maxiell and suffered on getting out to his man away from the basket as well.

Panic in Detroit

  • 46 - Number of field goals the Detroit Pistons made. The most by a Spurs opponent this season, tied with the Los Angeles Clippers who did in the 106-84 blowout earlier this season.
  • 7 - Spurs turnovers. A season low.
  • 16 - The number by which the Spurs were out-rebounded by. The highest this season.
  • 50 - Total free throw attempts.
  • 15 - Number of times I hit my head on the table after a whistle.
  • 63 - Spurs winning percentage on the road.
  • 52 - Detroit's points in the paint total.

Motown Junk

  • Aron Baynes deserved more minutes just based on bad the rest of the front court was playing.
  • Danny Green can't operate a fast break to save his life.
  • I think Stephen Jackson may have finally crossed over the threshold to "has-been."
  • The Spurs perimeter defenders over compensated after they started leaving Detroit shooters wide open. Players were running well past or jumping at the slightest hint of the ball raising up. Result was not pretty.
  • Patty Mills almost got scorched on his "hopping" defense to prevent a pass down low. Brandon Knight blew right by Patty as soon as the Aussie was back in the air. Lucky for Mills, Knight ran into crowded area.
  • DeJuan Blair twists and turns with the ball too much when under the basket.
  • Greg Monroe deserves more attention in the NBA. Having a great season on a lousy team.

Telegraph Road

@blanchard48moh: So apparently Tim Duncan is a top-five defense all by himself.
@Cosmis: "shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot shoot" RT @EeyoreWolfDough: Regardless of that foul, what is Gary Neal
@TortiousTroll: Pretty sure if I got a halfway decent screen I could blow by Gary Neal, microfracture and all

Dog Eat Dog

The following spreadsheet will be posted with every Road Rehash. It will compare the Spurs offensive and defensive numbers and the their efficiency during the road trip against the cumulative numbers of the entire season. You can see that the numbers are almost identical across the board with one huge exception - rebounds.

Data pulled from Effective Field Goal Percentage (eFG%) adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. Defensive Rebound Percentage (DRB%) is an estimate of the percentage of available defensive rebounds the team grabbed. FT/FGA measures the team's ability to get to the line.


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For more rambling and Spurs talk, follow Aaron Preine at @DukeOfBexar on Twitter.