Basketball / Sports

Orlando center Nikola Vucevic (9) scores against Detroit at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. The Magic defeated the Pistons, 112-98. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)

Loss sparks a heated exchange between Pistons coach Cheeks and Bynum

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Andre Drummond sat in the chair with a towel draped over his head.

It was minutes after the Detroit Pistons took a 112-98 beating from the woeful Orlando Magic and the visual could serve as a pulse of the state of the Pistons.

The lead was as large as 20 points in the third quarter and it was the second road blowout loss of the season at Orlando -- a team with a 14-37 record and not even making any pretense of trying to win this season.

The game also saw a verbal confrontation between Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks and back-up point guard Will Bynum, one of the most mild-mannered players on the team.

The team stands at 19-29 and two full games behind the Charlotte Bobcats for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference in this season of playoffs or bust.

You could sense in Drummond's words when he finally dressed and spoke with the media that he feels the season slipping away amid the dysfunction this once proud franchise can't escape.

"I can't stand losing," the second-year center said after his 15 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots weren't enough to prevent a winless two-game trip to the Sunshine State. "I hate it with a passion but you have to stay positive and can't let it get to us and try to get better each and every day."

The seeds for Wednesday disaster were sown at the start of the second quarter. Cheeks started a lineup of Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rodney Stuckey and Bynum. It's hard to recall that personnel grouping this season, but normal sub Kyle Singer got the start in place of Caldwell-Pope, who had started 40 straight games.

The lineup sparked a second quarter that saw the Pistons commit seven of their 15 turnovers and the lead was 14 by halftime. Cheeks tried to stem the tide early in the quarter by calling time-out and replacing Bynum and Caldwell-Pope.

But obviously Bynum was angered by the quick hook.

After playing only 3:08, Bynum was visibly agitated with Chauncey Billups trying to console him.

As the team back on the floor, Cheeks went over and confronted Bynum and they had a brief heated exchange.

Bynum was obviously steamed and assistant coach Rasheed Wallace took over calming him down.

Bynum said there was nothing to say, but Cheeks and Drummond confirmed there were words.

"It's part of the game," Cheeks said. "We had a few words and moved on. That's it. There's nothing to elaborate on.

"We had a few words and we moved on. It's not the first time I've had words with a player so it's probably not going to be the last."

Drummond said: "We're all on the same page. Whatever happened with Will and coach is none of your business. No disrespect, but what goes on in the huddle stays in the huddle. We're a family here. Every family gets into a battle. So they're good now."

(c)2014 Detroit Free Press

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