On the Pistons' social network Web site, Posting Up, blogger Kristenlea47 questioned whether Michael Curry was the right choice to coach the Pistons. She said she wished ex-Dallas coach Avery Johnson had replaced fired Flip Saunders instead.
At WTFDetroit.com, message board poster Kstat wrote that the Pistons won't finish .500 "unless a trade is made, Rip (Hamilton) gets hurt again or Curry is fired."
And within a handful of comments under a Free Press online article Tuesday, the adjectives "incompetent," "terrible" and "clueless" were used to describe the first-year coach.
Such are recent cyberspace samplings of opinions on the job Curry has done to this point. He is aware of the sentiments -- and isn't bothered by them.
"I played professional basketball," he said Tuesday. "Criticism has been part of my career the whole time."
Instead, Curry has a different outlook.
"The reality is, at the end of the day, you want to be winning and have a chance to compete for a title," he said. "Anything short of that and there's going to be criticism. Like I said before, that means we've raised the bar extremely high here in Detroit, and that's great."
The Pistons, who visit the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight, have reached the Eastern Conference finals six years in a row, but fell to 24-19 after a 108-105 loss to Houston on Sunday. They are 2-7 in their past nine games, and 20-19 since an early-season trade brought Allen Iverson. And with a 5-8 January and two games to go, they'll suffer their first losing month since February 2004.
"At times, you go through tough times," Curry said. "Sometimes, we forget about the tough times when you haven't been through them in a while. But this is just a tough stretch as we try to find ourselves as a team. The only way you get better is to keep battling and keep working, and things will eventually turn for you."
Center Rasheed Wallace sees potential for a turnaround. He pointed to a seven-game winning streak in late December.
"I think we have it in us," he said. "And I think we believe we have it in us."
TIME FOR DEFENSIVE WORK: Since Hamilton's benching three games ago, much has been made of the Pistons' offensive chemistry. Because of that, Curry thinks his players lost some focus on the other end.
"We shoot 50-something percent with five turnovers and 100-plus points and lost the game," Curry said of Sunday's loss to Houston. "What I told them today is: Don't worry about your offensive efficiency numbers. Be in the top five in field goal percentage defense and points allowed and ... you got a chance of being really good in the playoffs."
RIP AND A.I. GEL: There was one thing Curry was happy about in the loss: Iverson and Hamilton played the entire second quarter, which the Pistons won, 30-22. In the quarter, Hamilton scored 13 points with four assists, and Iverson scored four with five helpers.
"I thought they played their best basketball together," Curry said. "When they're playing together, it's a little give-and-take as far as their roles. The better they play together, the better we'll be as a team."
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