DETROIT -- Michael Curry was handed an excellent opportunity, becoming a head coach for the first time with only one year of experience as an assistant.
Entering the season, his Detroit Pistons were expected to be a strong team featuring All-Stars and up-and-coming players. But Curry's job suddenly changed early on when point guard Chauncey Billups was traded to Denver for Allen Iverson.
The results did, too.
After winning their first four games of the season, the Pistons are barely over .500 since acquiring Iverson, and fingers are beginning to point in Curry's direction.
Some say Curry looks as though he's overmatched, noticing when he hands a dry-erase board to assistant coach Darrell Walker during some timeouts to handle Xs and Os.
Others wonder if the Pistons would've been better off allowing Flip Saunders to complete his contract this season, instead of parting ways with him as they did with Larry Brown and Rick Carlisle during their recent stretch of success.
"It's part of the job," Curry said Monday in a telephone interview with the Associated Press. "When you lose, it's the coach's fault. When you win, the players get the praise."
Detroit wasn't prepared to play the Houston Rockets without Yao Ming on Sunday night, letting them spread the floor to set up seven 3-pointers and easy layups en route to a 39-point first quarter.
Curry didn't help matters by keeping plodding center Kwame Brown in the starting lineup even though he knew Yao wasn't playing.
Still, the Pistons had a chance to send the game into overtime on the final possession. They missed a pair of 3-pointers in the final seconds as Iverson watched, leading to more scrutiny.
The next morning before practice, Curry stuck by his decision to leave Iverson on the bench for the final seconds of the game and for much of the fourth quarter.
"When we took Iverson out, we were down (13) and the group that we brought in gave us a chance to win it," Curry said. "So, we went with that group."
Following a timeout, Rasheed Wallace bricked a hurried 3-pointer, and Arron Afflalo missed another 3 after scurrying for the loose ball. Afflalo essentially was playing for Iverson, who was on the court for only one minute in the final quarter.