Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE
Was this finally the beginning of the Bull-Moose party? Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and some late-game heroics from Brandon Knight overpower a lot of horrible Detroit Pistons basketball.
In the game preview, I wondered if the Pistons were at a precipice -- things were in danger of going very, very wrong and they needed something to go right.
Enter the Toronto Raptors and, more importantly, enter Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
Monroe and Drummond played all the crunch-time minutes together, keying the Pistons to a 91-90 victory over the Raptors.
Drummond was a revelation, scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in just 24 minutes of playing time. More importantly, however, was that he was able to do this while not committing dumb fouls (only two for the game) or committing turnovers (just one). He also extended possessions with clutch rebounds and was able to convert some put-backs when the Pistons offense largely broke down.
Mornoe, meanwhile, seemed to sense that his team needed him to put his squad on his moosey shoulders. He demanded the ball early and late in the game and finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Not to be outdone, Brandon Knight was able to step up late in the second half and shake off the to-that-point miserable game he was having. He looked for his shot late and scored a key 3-pointer in the final minutes and the go-ahead basket with seconds remaining on the clock when he was able to split the defense and lay it in.
Before Knight's late-game explosion it had been another forgettable game for Pistons guards, and it is still a giant problem on this team if it wants to win games with any consistency.
Knight had displayed questionable judgement and a lack of hustle in committing five turnovers to go with just three assists and a decided lack of effort on defense. If possible, reserve point guard Will Bynum was even worse. Taking bad shots, committing dumb fouls and not running the offense well at all.
And Rodney Stuckey again took too many long jump shots and finished with just eight points and zero assists on 2-9 shooting.
But a win is a win and now is not the time to dwell on the horrendous guard play. Let's just thank atheist god that at least Brandon Knight has a decent 3-point shot, that Tayshaun Prince decided he needed to back up his decidedly big mouth with a big performance (16 points on 8-11 shooting including some vintage isolayshuan that he was able to turn into easy baskets in the paint), and that the two real building blocks on the team -- Monroe and Drummond -- are both big guys that complement each other so well.
Both got huge rebounds late and where Monroe was able to exert himself offensively down the stretch Drummond played quality defense when it mattered most.
And his defense was definitely needed as nobody at that point could slow down Toronto's Andrea Bargnani or keep point guard Kyle Lowry out of the lane.
Bargnani scored 17 first-quarter points and finished with a game-high 34 points. And Kyle Lowry decided he needed to abuse our guards in the second half and sliced and diced the Pistons in the lane. He finished with 19 points.
Perhaps this game was a turning point. Perhaps it is the moment when we will look back and see that this is the time when the transition toward more time with Drummond and Monroe playing together, playing late into games and playing important roles in several future Pistons victories.