The Toilet Bowl, if it comes to that, would be played Friday, Dec. 21, at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Followed 24 hours later, at the Verizon Center, by The Payback Bowl.
That’s the worst-case scenario, at least, for the Detroit Pistons and the Washington Wizards, the two teams remaining that have yet to win a game. The Wizards (0-5) have a shot on the schedule Tuesday night at Charlotte, based on their five-game winning streak against the Bobcats, though this is an improved Charlotte team.
The Pistons (0-8) are off to the worst start in franchise history, faltering in the fourth quarter Monday at home in their 92-90 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. They play at Philadelphia Wednesday, then get Orlando at The Palace Friday.
At the Wizards’ and Pistons’ combined pace, the Buss family would have fired three coaches by now. But lofty expectations weren’t in place for either of these teams. No one expected blistering starts. Neither the Pistons nor the Wizards were projected by most NBA insiders to challenge for the playoffs this season. That’s particularly true for Washington, which has been playing without point guard John Wall (knee injury) and Nene (plantar fasciitis).
But it’s equally valid for Detroit, which is rebuilding brick-by-brick with pieces Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe and rookie Andre Drummond — just not swiftly enough for a lot of fans.
Drummond, the raw 19-year-old who has shown signs of being a monster (22 points in 20-plus minutes at OKC Friday), frustrated Pistons followers again Monday. Or rather, it was the care and nurturing of the 6-foot-10, 270-pound man-child. He had an impact on both ends to help Detroit to a double-digit lead in the first half. But the UConn product got on the floor for only 3:20 in the second, with the Thunder going small to pull the game away from him.
But just because a team is losing doesn’t mean that it is developing. Knight had a turnover and a forced shot down the stretch that proved costly against the Thunder. His decision-making has been suspect, there are folks who feel the rookie leash on Drummond is hamering Monroe’s progress as a power forward and, from Rodney Stuckey to Jason Maxiell to Tayshaun Prince, enough Pistons haven’t been in sync on the same nights to get the job done.
For Detroit, defense has been its most glaring issue; it ranks 29th with a 110.4 defensive rating. With Washington, the defense is better (11th, 100.5) but the offense ranked last (93.5). And for the coaches, the Pistons’ Lawrence Frank and the Wizards’ Randy Wittman, the desire to reverse direction pales next to the urgency to remove those goose eggs. One-and-anything sounds way better than 0-for-2012-13.