The Detroit Pistons weren't perfect, allowing the Chicago Bulls' bench to erase a six-point lead in the final two minutes of regulation, but they held on for the overtime win, 111-109, and finished the night with more "good moments" than bad, as Stan Van Gundy repeated numerous times while talking to the media after the game.
"I thought we had some good moments," Van Gundy said. "I thought that we started the game with really good energy. I thought we had some really good moments.
"I didn't think we sustained that defensively down the stretch, I'm very disappointed in our defense and our rebounding. But I thought that we had some really good moments, too, and I thought we had some good moments of ball movement. It was an up and down game like you thought it would be. We had good moments, we had bad moments. I thought everybody that played did some positive things.
The Van Gundy era opened with a bang -- or perhaps I should say horn -- as the Pistons forced a shot-clock violation on Chicago's very first possession. As you'd expect in a preseason opener, there were plenty of lapses, as well, especially down the stretch. But those are the kinds of mistakes that remind players why Van Gundy is working them so hard during training camp, and there's plenty of time to work on correcting them before the games actually matter.
"I told them afterwards, I thought it was the perfect exhibition game," said Van Gundy. "You get a win so you leave feeling good, but there were a lot of things that happened that you can learn from. So to me that's a good night when you get a game like that."
Van Gundy mentioned Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as two players who need to improve defensively, sandwiching his criticism with praise for their offensive games.
"Andre, as we've said, is getting a lot more comfortable in the low post. We went to him probably more than he's ever been gone to in the post down there, and I think he responded there.
"I did not think he was force defensively and on the boards, and that's got to change. For us to have five or six guys with more defensive rebounds than he has, that shouldn't be acceptable to him, and I think he's capable of being a much more impactful defender. But I think his offense is coming.
Drummond finished the game with 13 points and a block, but he had just five rebounds while committing four fouls in 28 minutes.
"The danger becomes if you forget about what it is that makes you great while you're working to get good at something else," Van Gundy said. "And we want to make sure that doesn't happen. I thought he ran the floor really well, particularly in the first half. I thought he tried to bring good energy. Happy with his offense, thought he did a good job there."
Caldwell-Pope continued the torrid shooting we saw from him during the Orlando Pro Summer League, shooting 4-of-8 from beyond the arc to finish with 18 points in 25 minutes and earning praise from his teammates.
"Obviously you can tell that the game has slowed down for him," said Greg Monroe. "You can tell he's getting more comfortable out there. As you saw, he's moving well, he's comfortable making shots, comfortable getting to the rim. He's definitely settled in, I believe."
The game is still moving fast on the other end, though, as Caldwell-Pope had several defensive miscues, including a foul with just 1.2 seconds left in regulation that sent Tony Snell to the line and allowed the Bulls to send the game to overtime.
"He's playing with great confidence and he's doing great things," Van Gundy said. "You can count on the guy bringing tremendous energy, and I thought he brought that again tonight, he made shots.
"The only disappointment was his defense, and he's been having it in practice, too. He's struggling to guard people off the dribble without fouling, so we're going to have to get that figured out. Because he certainly can move his feet, and he certainly plays hard enough and makes a great effort, but it's been the same thing -- we had a scrimmage the other day, Jodie [Meeks] shot 10 free throws against him.
"Like most players, he doesn't think any of them are fouls, but clearly they are. He had the big one right there at the end, there's no reason there. He's got [Snell] taking a difficult shot, make him make that. But that's what I'm talking about the game being a good one, because those are things that you can learn."