Pistons’ Monty Williams: ‘We Have to Embrace Where We Are’ Following 122-103 Loss to Pacers

The Detroit Pistons played like the team with the worst record in the NBA Wednesday, March 20, as they lost 122-103 game to the Indiana Pacers and dropped to a league-worst 12-57 record on the season.

The Pacers shot a red-hot 57 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond the arc, while the Pistons shot just 42 percent and 22respectively comparatively.

The Pistons were without key starters and contributors, including Ausar Thompson and Isaiah Stewart, both of whom will miss the remainder of the season, plus Simone Fontecchhio, Taj Gibson, and Quentin Grimes. To add to matters, after starting two new players, the Pistons tied the NBA record for having 30 different players start a game for them in one season.

Despite being so shorthanded and having so many players rotate in and out of the starting lineup this season, Pistons Head Coach Monty Williams was visibly frustrated with his team’s play after the game.

“No excuse. I don’t care about the talent level not being there. It doesn’t matter. I’ve spent my whole NBA career overcoming and that’s just what it is. No player in this league has achieved anything without overcoming, and so that’s what I’m looking for from this group,” Williams said.

He said this was the first time he saw the team in the game where the team appeared to feel sorry for themselves.

“Whether it was officiating or missing shots, we just didn’t have the same kind of consistent poise. There were times when we’d play our kind of basketball then something would happen, and we’d dip a little bit. That’s not (a) talent (issue). We have to embrace where we are, and I just didn’t see that consistently with this group,” he added.

The Pistons got double-doubles from both Cade Cunningham (23 points and 10 assists) and Jalen Duren (11 points and 12 rebounds), while Jaden Ivey scored 15 and James Wiseman contributed off the bench with eight points and nine rebounds.

For Indiana, All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton lead the team’s offensive onslaught with 20 points and nine assists. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter as the Pacers headed into the final period with a 20-point lead. Paskal Siakam, a trade-deadline acquisition for Indiana, led all scorers with 25 points, and he also tallied eight rebounds, four assists, one block, and a steal.

“We’ve had a lot happen to us in the last couple of days. It is the reality that we all have had to deal with, but you still get to play basketball and you still get to hoop. And that’s how I’ve always approached this thing. ‘I’m in the NBA.’ It’s a joy for me to do what I do, and I’ve got to infuse our guys with that as we go down the stretch,” Williams said.

“(Tosan Evbuomwan) being in a starting role is a bit of a shock to the system. He’s pretty solid. He got put in a tough spot trying to guard Siakam on the duck-ins, but other than that I thought he was pretty solid.”

The Pistons jumped out to an early 10-2 lead in the first three minutes of the game, as Cunningham scored or assisted on the team’s first five baskets. The Pacers battled back quickly, though, closing the gap and taking their first lead of the game at 21-20 with 2:49 left in the first on a Tyrese Haliburton-assisted layup by veteran Doug McDermott. From there, they ended the first quarter with a 29-24 lead, and outscored the Pistons by 15 over the next two quarters.

“The season’s not over so we all have an opportunity each night to go out and do what we love to do and try to win basketball games,” Cunningham said after the game. “I don’t feel bad for us. I don’t feel bad for myself. I know the group doesn’t feel that way. We’ve just gotta see it as a new opportunity.”

Over their remaining 13 games, the Pistons need to win five to avoid tying the team’s worst record in franchise history, when the 1979-80 team finished with a record of 16-66. Despite having the eight-easiest remaining schedule in the league, the Pistons have lost at least once this season to each of their remaining opponents.

Up next for the Pistons, they host the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics at Little Caesars Arena on Friday, March 22.

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