Pistons stagger to finish line, routed by Spurs in regular-season finale

Nolan Bianchi, The Detroit News on

Published in Basketball

To close their worst season in franchise history, the Detroit Pistons turned in a performance so forgettable that it might actually be hard to forget.

One game after their biggest margin of victory this year — and against a Spurs team that was tied for the worst record in the West and playing without Rookie of the Year front-runner Victor Wembanyama — the Pistons on Sunday were mere passengers in a race to the finish line at Frost Bank Center in San Antonio and nearly suffered their biggest defeat of the season in the finale, 123-95.

The Pistons (14-68) were already set to finish with the worst record in franchise history, a distinction that was secured in Thursday night's home finale loss to the Chicago Bulls, and have locked up the No. 1 spot in the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery with a 14.0% chance of picking first and a 52.1% chance of picking in the top-four.

After the game, Pistons coach Monty Williams shared his appreciation for everything his team has "dealt with this year."

"I told them, in my opinion, we have dug the trenches for the foundation," Williams told reporters. "This summer, we've gotta pour the cement and see whose fingerprints are going to be in it."

Detroit beat the Mavericks by a season-high 18 points, 107-89, in Dallas on Friday night. Sunday's loss was Detroit's 15th defeat by at least 20 points this season and ninth of 25 of greater. The Pistons' largest margin of defeat this year was 32, which happened three times from Dec. 8-16.


"We've had so many guys, just injuries and trades, fall by the wayside or go to other teams, but those guys just hung in there," Williams told reporters. "The huddles that we had down on the road, last game of the year — if you saw the huddle, you would have thought it was a fourth-quarter type game in the playoffs. That's who they've been all year, and you can work with that.

"That's an intentional level of character and integrity that I think will allow for you to get better and overcome the obstacles that every professional team faces."

Williams said the players who are returning must maintain their level of commitment to growth.

"It's going to take a lot of work," Williams said. "And I expressed that to them, the amount of work that's in front of us for the next step. The next step in sports is always a great step, and when you get there, it's a bigger step. It's just how it is.


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