It took overtime to settle a very hard-fought game, which felt much more like a playoff battle than the second game of the season.
The Grizzlies defense gave the Pistons' offense fits during the first half, holding them to under 44 percent shooting and forcing 10 turnovers. Still, the Pistons were only down six at the break. This theme continued in the second half. Detroit got very few easy opportunities. The fluid half-court and transition offense that the Pistons displayed against the Wizards was rarely seen against the Grizzlies.
The Pistons surged in the fourth quarter, eventually building an eight-point lead and appeared to have the game firmly within their grasp. But, Memphis charged back late, tying the game with eight seconds left. Chauncey Billups had an open three to win the game in regulation, but it fell short. Memphis rode the momentum into the extra frame and largely had its way in overtime.
Moral victories don't count in the record books, but they count for something for a rebuilding, emerging team like the Pistons. The Memphis Grizzlies are a very good team playing in its home opener after getting to last season's conference finals. The Pistons took them to overtime, giving them all they could handle for fifty-three minutes. Losing doesn't feel good, but this game is a clear sign of progress.
What stood out:
Intensity, if not beauty. In their home opener, the Pistons played beautiful basketball. Against the Grizzlies on Friday, the Pistons played very ugly basketball.
Ugly basketball, but I don't say that critically. It was reminiscent of Detroit's Going to Work era: hard-nosed defense, hustle plays, and grind-it-out half-court offense. This was as true for Memphis as it was for Detroit. Memphis frustrated Detroit's offense, holding the Pistons to 46 percent shooting and forcing 19 turnovers. Detroit's defense was less consistent, allowing Memphis to shoot nearly 52 percent from the field, but forcing 20 turnovers. ,
Who stood out:
Rodney Stuckey got off to a very quick start, scoring eleven points on nine shots in just eight minutes. He finished the game tied for a team-high 19 points on 13 shots in just 23 minutes -- he should have played more.
When Greg Monroe got the ball, he had his way, but Memphis did a very good job denying him the ball all night long. Moose finished with 16 hard-earned points, eight rebounds and three steals. He is still struggling with turnovers, though, committing four against the Grizzlies tough defense.
Josh Smith, for better and worse. He continued to demonstrate his versatility, and he was very active, as demonstrated by three steals and three blocks. However, his offense was poor. He used 28 (!) possessions to create 19 points and five assists. His 23 shots were as many as Monroe and Drummond combined. He is still struggling with perimeter rotations, but I'm still giving him a pass as he learns the small forward position.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had an excellent performance in limited minutes. He showed the same confidence and aggressiveness as he did during his debut, but by contrast, he played within himself and his game. He finished with 13 points on 7 shots, going 4-4 from the line and sinking his first NBA 3-pointer.
- Andre Drummond had the quietest double double I can recall him ever having. He finished the night with 12 points, 16 boards, three steals, and two blocks. He also played 48 minutes and only committed three fouls, which might be the most important stat of the night for Dre.
- He also did this, which wasn't all that quiet:
Dre is going to need his own SportsCenter segment if he keeps this up.
- Former Piston Tayshaun Prince a non factor until overtime where he converted on a huge three with two minutes left in and hit a long 2-point bucket to stretch the lead to eight with 20 seconds left in overtime. Daggers for days.
- The Pistons did a very respectable job against to the Grizzlies' front court. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for 31 points and 18 boards on 11-for-20 shooting. The Pistons' defense forced this duo into six turnovers of their own.
- In spite of KCP and Stuckey playing well, Maurice Cheeks stayed with Will Bynum and Chauncey Billups throughout overtime. Both struggled to contain Mike Conley, and Stuckey and KCP outperformed Billups and Bynum on offense all night. I would have gone to Billups and KCP/Stuckey. That said, Will Bynum didn't play poorly, at least offensively. He just didn't stand out the way KCP and Stuckey did, especially on defense.
- The Pistons have now lost 19 consecutive Western Conference road games. That should change sooner rather than later.
And Bynum .... Pistons down 9. Will be 0-19 in last 19 Western Conference road games.— Vincent Ellis (@Vincent_Ellis56) November 2, 2013