The Pistons played tough through three quarters, going back and forth with the Thunder and exchanging leads throughout. However, the Thunder went on a thirteen to two run to close the third quarter and never looked back.
Well, except for the last minute of the fourth quarter when the Pistons went on a late-game run, cutting the lead to five with eighteen seconds left. It got very interesting, as the Pistons nearly forced a turnover after Jennings cut the lead to five with a transition three. Ultimately, though, sound ball and clock management, and a few made free throws sealed the deal for Oklahoma City.
That the Pistons played tough through three quarters is a huge improvement over the past several seasons. That they made a late run instead of folding is as well. That the Pistons lost this game isn't terribly demoralizing; Oklahoma City is the better team.
That said, the Pistons will need to find a way to come out on top of a handful of games like this - close games against better teams that expect to beat them - if they want to get where they want to be come April.
What stood out:
The Thunder's ability to get to the free throw line. They took forty-four (!!!) free throws and made thirty-nine of them. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for twenty-nine attempts and twenty-six makes. Ouch.
The Pistons' three-point shooting. After asking for it, Coach Cheeks got it. The Pistons shot eleven for thirty-one (35.5%) from behind the long line. Brandon Jennings accounted for four makes and ten of those attempts.
Who stood out:
A player like Kevin Durant is the difference for an NBA basketball team, and he literally did whatever he wanted all night against the Pistons. He finished the game with thirty-seven points on just fifteen shots, scoring seventeen from the charity stripe on nineteen attempts.
Greg Monroe racked up yet another double-double, and a very efficient one at that. Twenty points, fifteen boards, three blocks, two steals, three assists, and just two turnovers. Oklahoma City couldn't stop him. His post game continues to surprise; over the summer, he clearly developed a bevy of post moves and fakes that are close to unstoppable at the moment. The only thing he did wrong all night was not get the ball enough.
Brandon Jennings had a double-double of his own from the point guard position, totaling twenty-two points and eleven assists in all. His aforementioned three-point shooting powered his offense, but he also got to the line six times as well.
Josh Smith scored twenty-five points on twenty shots, which is a drastic improvement over the past three games. He also snagged eight boards and a steal, and he looked to be in control of himself and his game for the most part. Prior to tonights' game, he was fourth in the NBA in turnovers, but in spite of having the ball in his hands a lot tonight, he only committed two. However, with Moose having his way inside all night long, he again should have deferred more often. It's still too early in the season to call this a pattern, but at the moment, it looks like Josh Smith is the center-piece of the Pistons offense, not Greg Monroe. That is very troublesome.
Rookie Steven Adams literally came out of nowhere for the Thunder, contributing a very efficient double double in thirty-one minutes of play (seventeen points, ten boards, three blocks).
- The Pistons struggled to keep Russell Westbrook out of the lane, but his damage was mitigated slightly; twenty points on 23 used possessions is acceptable.
- Josh Smith and Andre Drummond were plagued by foul trouble all night. Smith fouled out in the fourth, and Drummond was limited to just under twenty-three minutes. This is the most non-factor-y I've seen Drummond as a pro.
- I'm still waiting for Josh Smith's elite defense. Kevin Durant made him look silly. Of course, it wasn't just Smith. Durant took the entire Pistons squad to task.
- Rodney Stuckey outplayed every other Piston guard but Brandon Jennings, but Coach Cheeks again stuck with Chauncey Billups in spite of Rodney's good play. Rodney Stuckey should be playing more right now, period. Seventeen points on seven shots and seven free throw attempts - that's Stuckey at his very best, but he only played twenty-three minutes. Before long, I will be wondering if Cheeks is overusing Billups, and if fatigue is impacting Chauncey's play, and if both combined are hurting the team.
- Gigi Datome looked nice offensively in twelve minutes. He should be vying for some of Singler's minutes if he can find his three-point shot.
- Kyle Singler's early season shooting woes continued; two for nine isn't helping.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope got seven minutes and was invisible.
GameThread Roll Call
|19||OK from J||20|
|21||I Got Munnyz||17|
|48||The truth Rodney White||1|