It wasn't necessarily that the Pistons lost, but it was that they didn't show any heart. Most of the players looked dispassionate out on the court, and that is why every Piston should look at Brandon Knight as an example of how to play.
The Pistons have appeared to look like they are just going through the motions to finish out the regular season, and have been extremely frustrating to watch as a fan. There is no excuse why the players aren't playing with passion.
Monroe then made sure that the he was laying this loss on the Pistons players and not the coaching staff:
"This has nothing to do with Coach Hill," Monroe said. "I understand his gesture and him trying to, you know, maybe man up. But this has nothing to do with him. We prepared the same way we prepare every game. We had enough information and we knew what they were going to do. There was no effort from us. This had nothing to do with coaching. Brian Hill had nothing to do with this today."
Hopefully Monroe can look at Knight as an example of how to back up your words and not just talk.
Some people might only remember from the loss that Clippers center DeAndre Jordan flattened Knight on an alley-oop dunk. I didn't see it that way. All I saw was Knight trying to set an example for his lackluster team of the right way to play, which was already trailing by 19 points at the time.
Jordan is one of the best dunkers in the NBA, and Knight—at 6'3"—had no chance of blocking Jordan, but the takeaway is that he took a stand and showed leadership. At first it might look like Knight was being stupid to risk injury like that, but as a Pistons fan, it was refreshing and much needed.
Just moreso the lack of respect for us playing. It's not only them but myself. We all have to play harder. To give ourselves a shot to win against one of the best teams in the NBA, you can't come out and lollygag and half-play. You've got to come out and play hard.
At the time, the quote didn't sound like it had much substance behind it, since it was right after a loss.
But Knight went out and backed up his words by doing something about it. For a second-year player to chastise his teammates is one thing, but to then go out and try to rally his team like he did by taking on Jordan is a whole different story.
This is why for all of Knight's supposed flaws and claims that he's not a true point guard or shooting guard, he is essential to the future of the Pistons. He plays hard and wants to will the Pistons to win, regardless of what it will take to make that happen.
The Pistons' assistant coach Brian Hill, who was filling in for coach Lawrence Frank, spoke to Mayo about Knight's effort after the loss to the Clippers:
"Brandon did what he was supposed to do," Hill said. "He tried to take a foul on the play and stop the dunk. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough guys that wanted to foul around the basket and take away easy baskets."
"The one thing I can say about Brandon is he competes every minute of every game. If we have 12, 13 guys collectively doing that, then we're not in the situation that we're in tonight."
Coaches appreciate effort. It's hard to teach a player to put in 100 percent and while players may talk about giving it, showing it is a whole different ball game.
Knight has shown that he has pride and that he can be a player the Pistons organization can look to in the future. Now, the question remains: can the other players look towards Knight and follow his lead?