It doesn't erase last June -- doesn't even begin to -- but the Pistons took their first small step in the right direction Tuesday night as they buried the Miami Heat 84-64 in the exhibition opener for both teams.
With most of Detroit focused on Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (where the Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics 5-1 to take a 1-0 series lead), the Pistons attempted to work some new faces and formations into their repetoire. The early returns are promising, from today's Detroit News:
If the Pistons' 84-64 romp over the Miami Heat in the exhibition opener Tuesday night proved anything, it was newcomers Nazr Mohammed and Flip Murray are quick learners and Carlos Delfino might be ready for a spot in the regular rotation.
Mohammed -- logging his first gametime minutes with Chauncey, Rip, Tay, and Sheed (all of whom played limited minutes) -- started and put up a nice stat line: 16 pts, 8 boards, 4 steals, and 2 blocks in 31 minutes. The other new Piston, Flip Murray, logged extended minutes (29) and poured in 8 points on 4 of 10 shooting. But the guy we're keeping an eye on -- and those of you who were with us last season had to know this was coming -- is Carlos Delfino.
Carlos-"I have an idea; I'll bitch and moan in Spanish...that way, it will never get back to the Piston management"-Delfino has been a favorite of ours since he joined the Pistons in '04-05. Delfino, we hoped, would finally provide the Pistons with some returns from a draft pick not named Tayshaun. But various reasons -- injuries, mysterious benchings under both Larry Brown and Flip Saunders, and Delfino's immaturity -- have kept him from living up to his potential. If Tuesday's stat line (15 pts, 6 boards, 3
reboundsdimes, 2 steals, and only 1 turnover in 24 minutes) is any indication of what Delfino could do if given a spot in the rotation, I may actually sleep through the night without waking in cold sweats thinking about the Pistons lack of a bench.
Finally, with all that has been made about the departure of #3, we need to discuss Flip's addition of the zone defense. We know that 'Sheed detests it, but it appears that it works (at least, it did yesterday). From the Free Press:
[Flip Saunders:] "I thought defensively we were very good, we trapped a lot, we were very active, our concepts were good, our zone was good, our press was good."
The Pistons finished the game with 15 steals. Overall, Miami had 24 turnovers (with no mention of how many were attributable to the NBA's new sythetic basketball).
Again, in the grand scheme, this game means nothing. But it was nice for a night to have a game to speak for the Pistons' prospects rather than Ben's bitching or the growing number of naysayers out there.
Detroit 84, Miami 64 (exhibition) [ESPN]
Game 1: Tigers win, but will it be costly? [Mack Avenue Tigers]
Pistons cruise against Heat [Detroit News]
Pistons 84, Heat 64: Pistons cool down Heat [Detroit Free Press]