Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Thanks to 33 free throw attempts, the Pistons were able to hang around in Philadelphia on Monday night, but Jrue Holiday and the 76ers were too much for Detroit down the stretch.
Greg Monroe's return (from a mini-slump) and 28 freebies from the charity stripe helped keep the Pistons close in Philadelphia, but 40-percent shooting, bad defense and Jrue Holiday ruined the Pistons in the second half of a 104-97 loss on Monday night.
The Pistons held a three-point halftime lead after hitting 17 of 19 free throws despite just shooting 38 percent. There were some generous foul calls, but a lot of credit belonged to the Pistons' defense in holding the Sixers to 21 second quarter points -- Detroit forced five turnovers and blocked three shots (two from Andre Drummond) in outscoring the Sixers 28-21 in the second.
Defense escaped Detroit in the second half, though. Philly started the third on a 14-0 run in the first four-plus minutes while the Pistons strayed from attacking the basket on the other end, settling for low-percentage jump shots and bricklaying. The Pistons worked their way back to hold a brief lead in the fourth quarter, but the Sixers never cooled off, especially Holiday.
Holiday put on a free clinic for underprivileged backcourts in the latter 24 minutes when he scored 21 of his game-high 25 points and had four assists. After Rodney Stuckey took a horrible three-pointer around the two-minute mark, Holiday hit jumpers on two of the Sixers' next three possessions, which were as good as daggers.
In between the Holiday makes, ironically, he missed two free throws to keep the Pistons within a possession. Unfortunately, Monroe missed a layup (the Pistons missed five bunnies in the fourth) and then Holiday decided he'd really earn his next two and all but seal it.
Monroe finished with 22 on 7-for-13 shooting (and eight free throws) and seven rebounds, but he was blocked three times in the game (once by Holiday) and missed two layups in the fourth. Brandon Knight also scored 22 points, but he needed 18 shots.
Rodney Stuckey was the real spark off the bench for Detroit, scoring 19 points and dishing out five assists (opposite two turnovers) in 31-plus minutes. For what it's worth, he and Drummond were the only Pistons in the positive for plus-minus.
Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young should not go unmentioned; they combined to score 38 on 17 for 26 shooting and had five steals, eight assists and 15 rebounds between the both of 'em.
The Pistons have to shake this one off in a hurry because they're back at it again on Tuesday night against Denver.