Traditionally, NBA teams don’t practice the day after back-to-back games, but Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks saw fit to after Wednesday’s loss in Atlanta, where his defense didn’t look organized or interested.

Apparently, Josh Smith didn’t get the memo. He stayed back in his hometown anticipating an off-day before Friday’s rematch against the Hawks, and was penalized. Kyle Singler started instead in the Pistons’ 96-89 loss at the Palace.

Cheeks notified the players while on the flight back and Smith wasn’t present. Whether it’s heavy-handed or more complicated than meets the eye remains to be seen, but it’s obvious Cheeks was sending a message to his $14 million-a-year player with the benching.

“I called a practice and he couldn’t get back, didn’t get back to practice,” Cheeks said. “I apologize to you guys (media). I called it late.”

In a fashion very unlike recent Pistons coaches, Cheeks was beyond forthcoming with information, despite realizing that common NBA protocol says teams don’t practice after two consecutive games.

“It’s not an NBA rule where you can’t practice after a back-to-back,” Cheeks said. “Had we won the game, I probably wouldn’t have one, but I decided to have one.”

Smith was unavailable for comment after the game, having left The Palace before the media arrived after Cheeks’ news conference. Singler and Andre Drummond were the only players who spoke afterward.

“It was changing one player,” Drummond said. “It’s tough losing games. You can see it on everybody’s face. Nobody likes to lose.”

“You can’t keep using excuses that we’re a new team, we’re 12 games in. We have to come together as one.”

Singler, who scored a career-high 22 points, emerging from a season-long slump, didn’t seem to mind the extra work.