Josh Smith came out hot in the first quarter, scoring 15 points. But he did so almost exclusively on jump shots, and when you're living on 25 percent shots, things eventually even out.
The offense sputtered the rest of the way.
One might have thought that a prolifically awful season last year might have led to a different mentality for Smith. And one might have thought that Stan Van Gundy would have strict boundaries for his jumper-happy player. But neither looked to be the case in the first game of the season.
Andre Drummond struggled with foul trouble through most of the game, picking up his third foul with several minutes left in the second quarter and eventually fouling out. He still managed to claw his way to 11 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block, though he seemed like an afterthought for most of the game.
Though he offered nothing offensively, Joel Anthony was surprisingly competent in extended minutes with Drummond limited and Greg Monroe out due to suspension.
The game was close most of the way through, with Detroit picking up some momentum in the second quarter thanks to a 10-2 scoring run that put them up six. But Smith returned to the court and inspired a five minute scoring drought.
Overall, the team did display a stouter defense, one that allowed far fewer easy baskets than has been the case in seasons past. Packing the lane seemed to be a particular emphasis, sometimes at the cost of ridiculously open looks from three. The 89 points against would've been the sixth best defensive performance of last season.
Detroit stayed in contact for most of the fourth quarter, but it's tough to win when you only score two points in the last six minutes of a game -- even when the other team only scores one bucket in the final three minutes.
Bigger recap coming later. Now your thoughts.