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Pistons Looks At Reasons For Lost Season

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(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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Forward Tayshaun Prince spreads the blame around for the Pistons’ second straight trip to the draft lottery. The Pistons were officially eliminated from the playoff chase Friday but still have six games remaining.

“You can go to everybody in this locker room. We’ve all got something to do with it,” he said. “(The coaches) got something to do with it and everybody in the organization does. You can ask each and every one of us and if they don’t say they didn’t take part in it, they’re wrong.”

Last season, the Pistons could legitimately blame injuries for their 27-55 season. Prince suffered the first serious injury of his career, a ruptured disc on his back, and missed 33 games. Richard Hamilton’s season was wrecked by a severe ankle sprain and a hamstring pull, Ben Gordon and Will Bynum battled ankle injuries and Rodney Stuckey had a nationally-televised dizzy spell in Cleveland.

Outside of Jonas Jerebko’s season-ending Achilles’ tendon tear, the Pistons have generally been healthy this season. Mentally and emotionally, however, they have been a train wreck.

It all started when Stuckey ignored head coach John Kuester during an early-season game at Atlanta and got benched the next game. Prince had a heated exchange with Kuester during a timeout in Golden State two weeks later and the disconnect between players and coach only grew.

Hamilton’s six-week benching and a shoot around boycott at Philadelphia in February made the Pistons’ woes a national story. With negotiations for the sale of the franchise dragging on, president of basketball operations Joe Dumars was unable to fire Kuester or shake up the roster at the trade deadline.

Everything came full circle in Boston Sunday when Kuester once again benched Stuckey for disciplinary reasons. Kuester didn’t elaborate but it’s believed that Stuckey refused to reenter the home game against Chicago Friday.

“This is a growing process,” said Kuester, whose club plays at Washington Tuesday. “In that growing process, he had a slight setback.”

Stuckey was fuming after his latest benching.

“We all know that things need to change around here and hopefully next year, things do,” he said. “I’m not speaking for myself but my teammates as well; I think a lot of us are frustrated.”

The steady diet of losses and constant turmoil has worn on Prince, who played in the Eastern Conference Finals during the first six years of his career.

“Lord knows we weren’t on the same page this year and I’m not just saying the team,” he said. “I’m talking about the players, the organization, coaches, everybody. We definitely weren’t a cohesive unit this year. In order to be able to win games and do what’s right, everybody has to be on the same page and I feel we haven’t been this season.”

CELTICS 101, PISTONS 90: The Celtics shot 64.1 percent from the field and had a 37-26 rebounding advantage as the Pistons lost their 10th straight road game Sunday. Boston point guard Rajon Rondo had 14 assists while Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce combined for 45 points as the Celtics won the season series, 3-1.

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