President of basketball operations Joe Dumars stressed during his annual postseason press conference last spring that his team would return to its roots and play with toughness and grit this season.

They’ve been tough and gritty, but not as Dumars promised. His club has been tough to watch and its inability to play defense has made fans grit their teeth.

They are second-to-last in the league in defensive field-goal percentage. Last season, they finished 26th in that category, but at least they could attribute it to a wave of injuries. This group has remained relatively healthy but head coach John Kuester hasn’t find any combination that has worked for more than a few games.

Opponents are shooting a whopping 48.1 percent from the field. Toronto is the only team surrendering a higher percentage.

“Our defense has been inconsistent all year,” guard Rodney Stuckey said. “We have 19 games left, so hopefully we can try to do something with the defense. It’s tough when guys are not all on the same page.”

As the season has deteriorated, so has any shred of commitment to getting stops. The Pistons have allowed 100 points in nine of the last 12 games, including 116 in a home loss to woeful Minnesota Wednesday.

“When you let them score (116) points, it’s pretty much everything,” Stuckey said about the defensive breakdowns. “We just have to communicate with each other and help each other out.”

The Pistons will have two practices before their next game against Washington Sunday at home. Kuester plans to give his younger players more minutes with the aim of developing future chemistry.

“We have to make more of a commitment every day and change the culture of our thinking defensively,” Kuester said. “We have two good practices ahead of us to again find out who is going to make that commitment.”

TIMBERWOLVES 116, PISTONS 105: Minnesota forward Kevin Love recorded his 48th straight double-double with 20 points and 20 rebounds as the Timberwolves handed the Pistons their eighth loss in 10 games. The Timberwolves’ bench outscored the Pistons’ second unit, 61-34. Detroit relied heavily on three-point attempts and made just five of 25.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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