CHICAGO -- Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy didn't hold back when voicing his frustrations on Wednesday after watching Detroit drop its fifth game in six outings.
The 117-95 loss to the Chicago Bulls left the Pistons at 34-38 on the season and 1.5 games behind the Miami Heat for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. One night after losing at the buzzer to the NBA-worst Brooklyn Nets, the Pistons looked lifeless at times against the Bulls.
Afterward, Van Gundy issued a warning to his team.
"The message I gave them is, 'Look, we got 10 games left," he said. "And if we don't change the way we're playing, this is going to get really, really ugly.
"We didn't defend at any point in the second half. We didn't defend much in the first half, either. Just really disappointing. We were 33-33, got tied, back to .500 after that New York game [on March 11], ran into a buzz saw in Cleveland [three nights later], and that's it. We haven't bounced back. It's like we took that one hit and have not recovered at all. Have not played a decent game since then. This is six bad games in a row."
"Right now, we don't have a lot of life in us, and we got to find some by Friday," Van Gundy added. "It's just not one position, either. We're just not playing. We're not. We're just bad all the way around."
Van Gundy, who also serves as the Pistons' president of basketball operations, called this "as frustrating a stretch as we've had in the three years I've been here."
The Pistons got swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they were expected to show growth in 2016-17 behind a young core led by Andre Drummond.
"I think everybody expected us to play better than we have this season," said second-year forward Stanley Johnson. "Including ourselves, including [the media].
"It's disappointing that we come out and put out efforts like we do [on] back-to-back nights. No disrespect to these two teams, but these are teams we can beat handily."
"Obviously, there's some things we need to work on personally, person to person, individual to individual, teammate to teammate, as a collective group -- from coaching staff to players -- to become the team that we're supposed to be," Johnson continued. "A lot of people are going to write us off right now and say we're a game and a half out and on the downfall. But there's 10 games left, and we're only a game and a half out. That's how I look at it, and that's how we all have to look at it, to be better."
For his part, Drummond remains confident the Pistons can turn it around.
"I trust my guys," Drummond said. "We're a good group of guys here that are willing to put the work in and willing to fight for what we believe in. We believe that we're a really good team. We believe that we belong in the playoffs. It's going to take a lot of work now. We don't have any room for error right now. We're going to need to win quite a few games to put ourselves in a position to get back in the playoffs again; so we have what it takes to be there, so we're going to do it."
Van Gundy was asked if he felt his message was still getting through to his players.
"You say so many things," Van Gundy said. "I don't have any idea [what is or isn't getting through]. Clearly, we're not playing well. It's either the message isn't sinking in or it's not a good enough message or the teaching isn't good enough."
Van Gundy did not shirk responsibility for the team's failings, either.
"I'm not separated from this, obviously," he said. "I think it's pretty clear from these six games I'm not finding the answers and I'm not doing a very good job. So it starts with me.
"I'm the person in charge. I selected everybody in that locker room. I'm the one who wanted them in there. I decide who plays. I put lineups out there. I decide on defensive coverages. I call plays. So it's all on me. I'm not running from that."