Tayshaun Prince, Brandon Knight vow Pistons will make playoffs next season
From The Detroit News…
Auburn Hills— You’ll have to pardon a few of the Pistons if their win over the Raptors on Sunday didn’t excite them much before heading out to Indianapolis for their second-to-last game tonight.
Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko sat in his locker, quietly looking around and made a telling, but not arrogant, vow.
“I don’t want to go through this again,” Jerebko said. “We’re going to the playoffs next year. We know what it takes. You can’t start off a season 4-20 and bounce back.”
He was asked if he was guaranteeing anything, seeing as how former Piston Rasheed Wallace made headlines years ago with his famous boasts.
“Yes, sir,” said Jerebko with a smile. “We’re a playoff team, with playoff-caliber players.”
Jerebko played for playoff teams overseas before arriving in the NBA in 2009, so he’s not used to playing for a cellar-dweller. His team’s respectable recovery from its pitiful start doesn’t cloud his judgment when evaluating what the Pistons are capable of on a night-to-night basis.
“We can beat any team, we can lose to any team,” he said. “We have some young players who have to be more consistent, me being one of them.”
Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said the team began to believe in itself after losing its seventh straight game on Feb. 1, a 99-96 decision in New Jersey.
“They stayed together, fighting for each other,” he said. “That game was start of a turnaround. Came home and started playing at high level (four straight wins).”
“We’ve had hiccups along the way but by and large we’ve made progress,” he said. “We have eight quarters left now because the bar definitely raises (playing Indiana and Philadelphia).”
Ben Gordon, who missed the playoffs once before signing as a free agent in the summer of 2009, said his body isn’t used to the grind of basketball ending before May.
After scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win, there was no way to tell if the Pistons won or lost from Gordon’s indifferent mood. Taking solace in not getting waxed by 20 points every night, as was the case for the first 24 games, can only last for so long.
He looks around at the talent in the locker room and can’t comprehend why the NBA playoffs logo won’t be on the Palace floor next week.
“You get sick of it,” he said. “It’s frustrating, not making the playoffs. It’s the fun time of the year, the highest level of basketball.”
“We had a lot of games where we were down 20 at half, guys had their heads down and gave in,” Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince said.
Prince has seen the highs and lows of it all during his time in Detroit, tried to put things in its proper perspective.
“You know what? We can always talk about woulda coulda shoulda but it’s not going to happen,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do about it.”
“It’s tough because when you’re there every year, you know what it takes to get there. We have a lot of guys who don’t.”
Prince did point out the lockout ending so abruptly, Pistons coach Lawrence Frank implementing a new system, along with Prince’s and Rodney Stuckey’s contract situation not being resolved led to the slow start.
“I think coach refers to it as ‘the process’ but I believe if we were in full stride from training camp, we’d be in that position (playoffs),” he said. “But we have to move forward.”
Prince believes there’s a simple solution to the team’s fortunes turning around in quick order and given Prince’s standing as one of the league’s most cerebral players, perhaps there’s something to it.
“I know what this team needs but it’s not my decision to make,” he said.