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NBA DAILY: The Detroit Pistons Are In A Giving Mood

The Pistons were gifting opposing teams with wins during a seven-game losing streak, but Andre Drummond gifted his teammates with nine assists in a near triple-double against the Atlanta Hawks.

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During a seven-game losing streak that ended with Thursday night’s win over the Hawks in Atlanta, the Detroit Pistons crisscrossed the country like Santa while giving away wins.

The team lost in D.C., Philadelphia, San Antonio and Milwaukee before returning home for a trio of losses to Golden State, Boston, and Denver. As the losing streak mercifully ended, Pistons center Andre Drummond turned his generosity toward his teammates, falling just one assist shy of a triple-double.

“Call me Santa Dre,” said Drummond after the Pistons dispatched Atlanta 105-91 ahead of Friday night’s visit to the Indiana Pacers.

“I’m handing out gifts. I’m just trying to move the ball around. I’m trying to get my teammates in the right position to score. When they do get cut off, they’re able to pass the ball back to me to finish the play. So it’s just fun the way we’re playing.”

It’s been a while since the Pistons could take a lighthearted approach during postgame interviews. Coach Stan Van Gundy called Tuesday’s loss to the Nuggets, the last of the streak, one of the worst he’s coached in a career that has spanned better than 850 NBA games.

“It’s a win,” said Van Gundy, declining to take much away from a victory over the last-place team in the East.

“It certainly feels a little less burdensome now, so maybe we can just get back to playing basketball.”

Van Gundy had a lot to say about those burdens prior to the win in Atlanta. Asked if his team had fallen prey to any finger pointing during a poor stretch that has undone Detroit’s hot start, Van Gundy didn’t hold back.

“It does happen, but it’s generally because guys don’t want to hold themselves accountable,” said Van Gundy. “They want an excuse. It’s somebody else.”

Van Gundy further hinted that off-court issues may be contributing to his team’s poor play over the last two weeks.

“It’s hard to play when you have dilemmas, whatever they are. If your dilemma is an off-the-court thing, if your dilemma is I’m not getting enough shots, I’m not playing enough, this guy doesn’t pass to me … whatever your dilemma is, it’s tough to play,” said Van Gundy. “We do have some guys who just never seem to have — or at least they don’t bring it here — a dilemma.”

Rather than single out the offenders, Van Gundy pointed to reserve point guard Ish Smith, journeyman power forward Anthony Tolliver and backup center Boban Marjanovic as role models for consistent contribution, while also shouting out guard Langston Galloway and stretch four Henry Ellenson.

“To me, Ish, A.T., Boban, those guys are the same guys every day,” said Van Gundy. “How many times in two years have you sat there and said, ‘Wow, Ish’s energy is really down today?’ Or you see A.T. now going into his second year like, ‘Wow, A.T. just didn’t bring anything?’ You never say that because they just come and play. They don’t think about anything. They don’t think about, is practice too long? Is he wearing us [down]? They show up every day and whatever you tell them to do, they do. And Langston and Henry are the same, they just haven’t played quite as much.

“They don’t burden themselves down thinking about all these other things. Losing has guys down. Guys haven’t been shooting the ball well. That brings you down. All these things [are] weighing them down.”

While Van Gundy spoke of players holding themselves accountable, his actions suited his words following the Nuggets defeat as he took to the podium to point the finger directly at himself.

“I selected these players,” said Van Gundy. “I decide who plays. I decide what we run on offense. I decide how we play defense. That was embarrassing tonight. That’s on me.”

A single win against a struggling Atlanta Hawks team isn’t going to turn Detroit’s season around. The Pistons currently sit two games above .500 and only half a game ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers, which are presently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. But Galloway, who led Detroit’s bench with 17 points in Atlanta, said the Pistons will take any win they can get, given the recent struggles.

“It’s definitely important to get off the schneid and continue to make an effort to get back on track and continue to keep this thing rolling tomorrow,” he said.

A win on Friday in Indiana would certainly help restore some holiday cheer to the Pistons. But the best gift of all would be to string wins together to put Detroit back in the heart of the playoff race.

Buddy Grizzard has written for ESPN.com and BBallBreakdown and served as an editor for ESPN TrueHoop Network.

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