The Detroit Pistons trotted out their familiar (yet dreaded) Big 3 lineup in Wednesday's matinee in Charlotte, with Josh Smith starting at small forward alongside Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. But unlike last year, it actually worked as the Pistons set the tone early before cruising to a 104-84 final score.
The trio completely dominated the boards, combining for 30 of the team's 58 total rebounds, holding the Hornets to just 36. Drummond (15 points and 14 rebounds) and Smith (14 points and 10 rebounds) each tallied a double-double in 31 and 34 minutes, respectively, while Monroe added 13 and six in 28. As a team, the Pistons outscored the Hornets in the paint, 38 to 24.
Maybe it's Stan Van Gundy's influence, or maybe it's a new sense of self-awareness, but Smith was disciplined (by his standards) with just two 3-point attempts, making one. He also added five assists, although that was offset by five turnovers. But all things told, he was a plus-26 during his time on the court, the best of anyone in the game.
Brandon Jennings continued his good news/bad news string of performances: he struggle with his shot yet again (1-7 from the field) but also distributed with impressive ball protection, racking up eight assists with just one turnover. In four preseason games, Jennings is shooting just 26.3 percent (10-38) but has 30 assists and just five turnovers.
With both Jodie Meeks (back) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (knee) sidelined, Cartier Martin got the call at shooting guard. He shot just 3-8 from the field but was otherwise productive, helping space the floor by converting 2-3 from 3-point land. As a team, the Pistons shot 40 percent from beyond the arc, with Jonas Jerebko (2-4), Kyle Singler (1-2) and Caron Butler (2-2) all hitting.
The Pistons started each half strong -- winning the first, 26-13, and the third, 28-18 -- which proved to be the difference. Detroit improved to 3-1 in the preseason and travel to Orlando to face the Magic on Friday. The Hornets fell to 2-2 and next face the Wizards in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
More bullet points:
• D.J. Augustin had a solid showing against the team that drafted him, scoring a team-high 16 points with six assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes. He shot 6-10 from the field (0-3 on 3-pointers). He's averaging 6.25 assists in four preseason games. With Spencer Dinwiddie hopefully returning in time to play the final preseason game, point guard looks like it really could be a position of strength for the Pistons this year -- especially if Jennings can straighten out his shot.
• Drummond seemed to force his offense more than usual. On the heels of a perfect 9-for-9 shooting game, he shot just 6-15 from the field today. He also chipped in two assists, two blocks and a steal.
• Luigi Datome took advantage of his 15 minutes by scoring nine points on 4-6 shooting, although he missed his lone 3-point attempt.
• Butler's two 3-pointers were his first of the preseason. He finished with six points, four rebounds and an assist in 11 minutes.
• The Hornets had a very poor afternoon shooting, hitting just 34.1 percent from the field and 13.6 percent (3-22) from beyond the arc. Lance Stephenson was abused with just eight points on 2-10 shooting, three assists and two turnovers. He was minus-23 for the game, the worst of anyone.
• Gary Neal finished with a game-high 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench for Charlotte, with half of his production coming from a perfect 10-10 performance from the free-throw line.
• For more on the Hornets, check out At The Hive.
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