Detroit dropped their second game in two nights Thursday, falling 97-91 to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but there was incremental progress for the Pistons all over the floor. That includes progress from Brandon Jennings who had four points and six assists a night after recording just four points and two assists and being largely invisible.
But there was one important metric where Jennings regressed -- minutes. After averaging 34 minutes in his first season in Detroit last year, Jennings played just 20 minutes in game one and 15 minutes in game two under new head coach Stan Van Gundy.
After the first game, Jennings admitted sitting for an entire fourth quarter and playing limited minutes was something he had never dealt with before in his career. And Thursday he played five less minutes.
After the game, Van Gundy said DJ Augustin was seeing more playing time, including at the end of games because he was the more effective point guard within those games.
When asked about the second night of sparse playing time Jennings said that if Augustin was playing better then he should be the starter. From MLive:
"Then he should start and I'll be the backup, if that's the case," Jennings said. "That's all I've got."
He then left the locker room.
Was this a sign of sacrificing for the team or new-found maturity from Jennings or was it just another form of pouting and not handling his early-season struggles with the most composure?
Jennings has always been one of the more direct, honest players on the Pistons even if he doesn't have a terrific amount of self-awareness. But also consider that the last action Jennings saw against the Timberwolves was with 7:26 left in the third quarter when he, fresh off a technical for complaining about a foul call, committed a dumb foul against Ricky Rubio and began jawing at the officials again.
Veteran official Danny Crawford patiently allowed Jennings to have his say and didn't T him up again, though it would have been understandable if he did. In the end, though, the refs didn't need to disqualify Jennings from the game as Jennings had already disqualified himself. Van Gundy quickly subbed in Augustin for Jennings and Brandon didn't see the floor again the rest of the night.
While Jennings might have a quick trigger finger about adjusting the starting lineup there is no indication from Van Gundy that he is ready to make a move. Yet. The team is still without Greg Monroe, and the skilled big man could do a lot to provide a focal point and balance to the Pistons' struggling offense, and that would help lift the games of all the Pistons' struggling players, from Jennings to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to Kyle Singler to Josh Smith.
But maybe Jennings just knows when he's been beat by the better man. Augustin hasn't been lighting the world on fire (the bench offense has faced many of the same struggles as the starters) but the offense does run more smoothly with him on the floor, and he's been more successful at both getting into the teeth of the defense and finding open teammates for quality looks.
The Pistons don't play again until Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets. By then the starting lineup might look a little different. Monroe is coming off a suspension and Detroit might have a new floor general as well.