Coming off of three straight heartbreaking losses and sitting at a disappointing 2-6, The Detroit Pistons needed someone to step up. Brandon Jennings was happy to oblige.
Jennings scored 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting and played some stellar second-half defense on Reggie Jackson to lead the Pistons to a much-needed 96-89 overtime win over the struggling Oklahoma City Thunder.
It didn't need to be that close, but then again, this is the Pistons.
Behind a solid Greg Monroe post game, Josh Smith passing and playing solid defense and Jonas Jerebko hitting open shots form the perimeter the Pistons had stayed in the game all night and even built an eight-point cushion with 9:33 remaining.
But then the offense spigot turned off. In the span of seven minutes, The Thunder went on a 14-5 run and it looked like the Pistons were going to play another team close and yet another game slip away in the fourth quarter. But a game-tying driving layup late from Jennings forced overtime and that's when Jennings really took over.
Jennings scored eight straight points, including two backbreaking 3 pointers, and forced a late Reggie Jackson turnover to seal the victory for Detroit. Jackson had scored 14 points in the first half on 6-of-9 shooting, but struggled in the second half. Scoring just six points and committing four turnovers.
A lot of that was thanks to Jennings who pestered Jackson and never let him get comfortable. Jennings isn't a great defender by any stretch, but he is certainly much more focused on D this year than he was at any point last season.
And defense effort, plus his typically solid passing (five assists and no turnovers tonight), plus the elimination of bad shots has led Jennings to have a sparkling start to the season. He's ditched all those rushed, off balance jumpers and gladly let his teammates take on more of the offensive load.
Since struggling in the first two, Monroe-less games this season, Jennings has been on fire. He's averaging 20 points and 6.9 assists to just 1.9 turnovers. He's also shooting 46 percent in his past seven including 47 percent from 3. Prior to this season, his career highs in field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage were 41.8 percent and 37.5 percent, respectively.
But it wasn't just a one-man show Friday night. The Pistons dominated the Thunder on the boards 55-42, including 15 from Andre Drummond who again struggled offensively but seemed engaged defensively and boxed out and skyed for rebounds all night.
Drummond scored nine points and Smith and Monroe were able to find his some easy dunk opportunities that he just couldn't convert. Jennings also seemed dedicated to find some oop opportunities for the struggling Drummond, but they were high-risk passes that couldn't be thrown down.
Monroe, meanwhile, had a quietly effective game. He shot only 6-for-13 for 14 points, but when he was on the floor he provided the Pistons' offense a focal point and passed the ball well. It's no surprise that he was a team-high +30 on the night.
Jerebko had a season-high 12 points, six rebounds and two steals as the only source of offense off the bench.
The Thunder were led by guards Jackson and Jeremy Lamb who scored a combined 54 points and hit from the perimeter and in the lane. Serge Ibaka chipped in 19 points, including some key 3-pointers, but it's easy to see that without stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook the Thunder struggle to find offensive contributors. Ibaka took a team-high 20 shots including nine 3s.
The Pistons finally got a road win and look to wrap up their hellish four-game road trip Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
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