A signal that the Detroit Pistons have become one of the NBA's weak sisters arrives when players on teams that suffer a defeat at the hands of the Stones feel embarrassed and disgraced.
The Pistons upset (if there is such a thing as an "upset" during the NBA regular season) the Portland Trailblazers at the Palace, 94-91, much to the chagin of the old U-M'er (if only for one year), Jamal Crawford.
"We have to look in the mirror," Crawford lamented.
One would think the lowly Pistons would only have a chance against a winning team such as the Blazers if bad games were turned in by stars such as LaMarcus Aldridge, the league's best power forward, and Raymond Felton. among the better point guards. Not so. Aldridge canned 25 points, while Felton scored 20 with 9 assists, and both guys shot better than 50 percent.
Crawford, in fact, was the weak link, missing 9 of his 13 shots off the bench, including a trio of triple tries.
The Pistons earned this victory, playing their best ball of the season for the first 30 minutes, taking a 67-51 lead midway through the third quarter. Then they fell into their old bad habits and allowed a quick Portland comeback on a 16-2 run, but they pulled back together just enough to hold on for the win.
Rodney Stuckey, despite his persistent struggles, still sometimes shows star potential. He started terribly this season after missing the abbreviated training camp, but maybe he's rounding back into the form that he showed late last spring. He canned 28 points and dished 5 assists. Crawford and his look-in-the-mirrow teammates must have been especially dismayed to see Stuckey hit 4 of 5 triples, given that Rodney is a career 29 percent chucker from three-point land.
But before we get too exuberant with this win over Portland, Pistons fans, keep in mind that our next two challenges are Monday at Oklahoma City (rated the toughest opposing arena by NBA executives) and hosting the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
(Footnote: Jamal Crawford turns 32 in a couple months. This makes me feel old. You, too? But let's keep in mind that he was only a 19-year-old freshman when he left U-M for the pros, during the final chapters of the Ed Martin recruiting scandal.)