The Detroit Pistons kicked off their 2014-15 campaign with an 89-79 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Denver. From the start of the game until there was less than 1:30 left in the game, no team led by more than six in a game that had 18 lead changes and 14 ties. Josh Smith was the Pistons' leading scorer with 25.
If you watched this game, you would say that it was an ugly game. If you read the box score, you would say that was an ugly game. There was a good 10-second span where both teams seemed to play hot potato. The Pistons held the Nuggets to the 4th lowest point total of this young season. Guess which team scored the fewest points of this young season!
We've heard talk about what Josh's role was or is going to be. We've heard talk about better shot distribution and Josh Smith not needing to shoot the three-pointer. After the preseason there was hope that this was all coming to fruition.
Welp, Josh Smith.
In the first quarter alone, Josh Smith took 10 shots. Do you know how many he averaged in the preseason? Only 10.71. Now, Josh was 6-10 during the quarter, but eight of those shots were from 10 feet and out. As for the other three quarters, Josh was 3-12 with six of those shots being from 10 feet and out (only one of those a make). After one ill-advised three-point attempt with around 18 seconds left on the shot clock (and a basket on the other end), Stan Van Gundy called a timeout. The next few plays after that, Josh Smith worked inside. He filled out his stat sheet to finish the game with 25 points (9-22/0-3/7-11), five boards, three assists, a steal, two blocks (a nice one here!) and two turnovers.
However, Josh Smith was far from being the only Piston who felt trigger happy. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. A lot of us like him. With him being 21, Drummond being 21, and Dinwiddie being 21, we like the prospect of a young team that competes. But tonight was a night where many people felt KCP was forcing the issue.
KCP finished off last year with a beautiful 30 point effort against OKC. He followed that up with a 24 points per game effort in the Orlando Summer League. Then in the preseaon (all two games and change he played) he averaged over 16 points per game on .514 FG% and .467 3P%. If only he were that efficient tonight. He finished the game 3-for-19 (1-for-8 from deep) for seven points to go with seven boards, three assists, a block and a turnover. He made defensive contributions -- KCP guarded Afflalo (who finished 6-16) most of the night and at one point when KCP came out of the game, Afflalo's next two three-pointers went in -- but man, that 3-for-19 is ugly.
Now, we can't forget about Drummond. Though, if you watched this game, you kind of did. And that was his fault. Drummond was not as efficient as he has been, but he did finish the game with 11 points (5-10, 1-4 from the line), nine boards, two steals, an assist and a block, but also six fouls (in 27 minutes). He had three fouls with 3:04 left in the second quarter and then his fourth just over four minutes into the third quarter. He sat from the 6:30 mark of the third quarter until 10:53 mark of the fourth quarter. He would eventually foul out with just under three minutes to go in the game. The Pistons only scored two points the rest of the way.
Also, it was evident that either Dre was disinterested, tired, or really needs to work on boxing out. Faried (Smith's guy to guard), Mozgov and Nurkic finished with 17, 11, and seven boards respectively (12 of them offensive).
Now, Drummond did get a chance go show off some moves and what looks to be a promising developing post game. To start the third quarter, Andre made a nice move after an offensive rebound to make what looked like a reverse dunk. Then, after a few possessions of bad outside shots (by Josh Smith and KCP), a drawn up play out of a timeout (yes, it is possible) resulted in another Mozgov poster. He also had a couple other shots where he was fed in the post and he'd back them down for a hook, but those weren't as successful.
Spencer Dinwiddie did get into the game for eight uneventful minutes. He had one assist to Smith and likely would have had more if Smith didn't shoot the other passes Dinwiddie sent his way. Due to shooting efficiency reasons (I assume), D.J. got the brunt of the minutes at point guard, though he came off the bench. Jennings was forgettable going 2-4 for four points, four rebounds, two assists and three turnovers in 20 minutes. D.J. finished 5-10 (2-6 from deep) for 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and three turnovers. These were not the point guards we saw in the preseason.
Now, they say the preseason is just the preseason. This is a good example as to why. The Pistons shot 6-for-26 (good for 23.1%) from deep with almost a third of those shots going to KCP. In the preseason, the Pistons shot worse than that from three only once (5-26 against Milwaukee). The Pistons shot 31-for-84 overall (good for 36.9%) with almost half of those shots going to Josh Smith and KCP. In the preseason, the Pistons never shot lower than 37.5%. The Pistons grabbed eight offensive rebounds on 53 missed shots (15.1%). In the preseason, the Pistons only had a lower conversion rate once (11.6% against Atlanta). They had fewer assists than they did in any game of the preseason (19 was the lowest in the Preseason). If only there were a player who could shore up three of those four issues.
It's just one game, but if this is a sign of things to come, we're in for another long season. However, let me remind you: THIS IS JUST ONE GAME. Also, 3M (like the company) were out due to injuries and suspension. Also, Denver is better than their 36 wins from last year since they're healthy now.
The Pistons are right back at it Thursday against the Minnesota Timberwolves in their den.
Pistons pump-up note: If you're playing along, Josh Smith had 12 shots outside of 10 feet. If you include 10 feet, there were 14 shots. That means 300-350 squats. Start.........now!