Apparently all of us watched the wrong game or... Pistons.com* got a bit ahead of themselves. While I'm hoping for the former, the Pistons lost to the Thunder 83-91 in a game that was well-contested until Oklahoma City took over in the 3rd quarter. Without Rip Hamilton and a frontcourt scoring option, the Pistons have started the season at .500 with a home loss to the 2-0 Oklahoma City Thunder.
After a strong first quarter showing, where Detroit's starters out-scored and out-rebounded the Thunder, Oklahoma bounced back against Detroit's second unit. Nick Collison and Etan Thomas outplayed Detroit's Kwame Brown and Jason Maxiell, capitalizing on a Pistons shooting slump plus a few offensive rebounds that would cut into Detroit's first quarter lead. After a strong 2nd quarter run by OKC, Detroit bounced back to take a 45-38 lead going into half time.
Detroit fell apart in the second half, got frustrated and blew some plays that could have righted a sinking ship. Along with a few baskets by Kevin Durant, the Thunder's frontcourt did all of its scoring in the third period. This continued into the fourth quarter with help by Thabo Sefolosha and Russel Westbrook contributing when the game was on the line.
For the Pistons, the predictable theme presented itself-- Detroit earned it's points efficiently from its guards, with no significant scoring from the frontcourt.
The Bens. While many may question it's value, the plus/minus stat showed only Ben Gordon and Ben Wallace as players who positively impacted the score in this game. For those who watched, does that statistic seem out of order? It was Ben Gordon's scoring and Ben Wallace's defense that kept us in this game. Beyond those two, and an assist by Tayshaun Prince, we may have faced an uglier margin than is reflected in the final box score.
Our frontcourt starters combined for 10 points on 13 field goals, compared to 30 points on 23 field goals for OKC. As Kevin pointed out in the game wrap against Memphis, "If they can’t crack 50% from the stripe, teams are going to resort to hack-a-Piston pretty frequently." They didn't. Even further, if we can't get more than 10 points out of our 4 and 5, especially in a collective 66 minutes of play, a .500 record will be far out of reach.
As mentioned above, the Bens. However, since Gordon earned about the same points per field goal as Rodney Stuckey, I think Ben Wallace earns this alone on principle.
The Karen Davidson Unsung Hero
Tayshaun Prince. Compton Quiet earned 11 and 7 on greater than 50% shooting, something that can't be said for anyone else wearing a Pistons Jersey tonight (on the floor anyway, cuz I've hit the trash can with empty drunk/surly beer cans at a steady 60% rate. Watch your back, Biedrins)
We need scoring from our frontcourt.
Elsewhere in the NBA
Boston appears to still be laying down the douche hammer, and Cleveland may have gotten its groove back. Boston's Big Three (Rondo, Pierce and Allen) continue to dominate, while that familiar looking fellow in jersey number 30 with the afro hasn't appeared to mean much in the regular season. I think he had some sort of slogan I seem to be unable to remember. "Fear the Ball?" "Fro don't lie?" I give up.
* kudos to DBB reader Gabe for pointing out Pistons.com's gaffe in the image above