We're going streaking! The Pistons dominated the Bucks on Monday, 113-94, stringing together consecutive wins for the first time all season. And Brandon Jennings is suddenly on a personal hot streak, scoring 15 points with 13 assists, his second straight double-double and his third straight game with 10-plus assists.
After admitting last weekend that he lost all confidence in his shot, Jennings found it early and often against his former teammates, drilling 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions in the midst of a 21-0 run that helped the Pistons finish the first quarter with a 38-18 lead.
He was involved on nearly every play in that opening frame, collecting four assists and two steals while exuding contagious swagger and confidence that set the tone for a dominating first half, including helping spark this Andre Drummond fast break:
He'd finish the game shooting 5-for-10 from the field, including 4-for-6 from three. Even as the Pistons entered halftime with a 65-34 lead, Jennings seemed to determined to twist the knife:
"I think we're up 30 right now so we're going to try to push it up to 60." - Brandon Jennings, at the half.
— *JD* Sports Tweets (@JDSportsTweets) November 26, 2013
Inevitably, though, the Pistons did ease up, allowing the Bucks to make up five points in the third and seven more in the fourth. They never threatened to truly rally but did save face by "only" losing by 19. Call it a lack of focus, call it the predictable result of playing a back-to-back, or call it Mo Cheeks getting cute with his lineups with a 30-point safety net.
After shooting 35.9 percent in the first half, the Bucks scored 55.9 percent in the second, in part because of some strange lineup combinations that frequently featured three guards and even Charlie Villanueva and Josh Harrellson at the same time.
I get it, with a big lead, the Pistons are smart to give Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe some rest (they played 24 and 32 minutes, respectively), but pulling them for perimeter shooters means the Pistons are no longer playing to the team's offensive strengths. The Pistons, who entered the game leading the league in points scored in the paint, were outscored 42-40 for the night and 26-10 in the second half. That's fine when the Pistons' outside shooters are hot (the shot 7-12 from 3-point land in the first half), but less so when they cool (5-17 after halftime).
That said, arguing about how to most effectively eat the clock in garbage time is the epitome of splitting hairs. This was a dominating win anyway you look at it, and exactly what the Pistons -- and Jennings in particular -- needed.
What stood out?
Shame on the referees for taking over in the second half and completely derailing the flow of a beautiful game. After combining for 18 personal fouls in the before halftime, the Bucks and Pistons were whistled 26 times the rest of the way. By the 9:34 mark of the third quarter, Jennings was tagged with his fourth foul and the Pistons were already in the penalty. What had been an up and down game slowed to a crawl.
Who stood out?
With 15 points and 13 assists, Jennings was clearly the engine for Detroit's offense, but this was an incredibly well-rounded attack. Consider: seven Pistons players scored in double-digits, all attempting within nine and 11 shots. Forget individual scoring totals, the sheer distribution of attempts makes me drool, especially since everyone played within the offense, rarely forcing a shot that wasn't there.
Just about all of Detroit's outside shooters were converting from long distance, with the team shooting 12-29 from 3-point land, led by Jennings (4-6), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2-5), Charlie Villanueva (2-5) and Rodney Stuckey (2-3).
Josh Smith scored just 10 points (4-10 shooting, including 0-4 from long distance) but also grabbed seven boards, four assists, a steal and a block while finishing a game-high +32 in the plus/minus.
Stuckey once again led the team in scoring with 17 points off the bench on 11 shots. Greg Monroe scored 16, while Drummond chipped in 12. Villanueva, who came into the game with 10 points on the season, matched that total in the second quarter alone before finishing with 12.
I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention the Bucks: half of the possessions did technically belong to them. Former Pistons Khris Middleton (14 points, five rebounds, 21 minutes) and Brandon Knight (eight points, four assists) were in the starting lineup. It was Knight's first start since injuring his hamstring in the season opener. He looked ... like Knight. Middleton, though, looked surprisingly solid -- I wouldn't mind if were still on Detroit's roster.
John Henson (15 points) and Gary Neal (14 points) played relatively well off the bench. Also, if you didn't see his name on the box score you might not realize that O.J. Mayo actually played: he finished with five points in 25 minutes.
- Monday's game kicked off a four-game home stand that also includes matches against the (Derrick Rose-less) Bulls on Wednesday, the (Kobe Bryant-less) Lakers on Friday and the 76ers on Sunday. Mind you, none of those teams have a winning record. If the Pistons can play as well as they did Monday all week, there's at least a chance they finish the weekend above .500 at 9-8.
- There's also a chance they lose all three -- this is a hard team to figure out. But this game felt more like a statement than merely a good matchup -- especially on the heels of the dominating second-half effort Sunday in Brooklyn.
- What'd I miss? What else stood out? Tell me in the comments.