You never quite know what you're going to get with this Pistons team.
There was a moment where Andre Drummond free throw shooting might turn a sure blowout into a loss. Detroit Pistons led by as much as 28 points before Houston Rockets went into Hack-A-Dre mode in the third quarter. 40 seconds coming off the clock in about 15 minutes lulled the Pistons to sleep, and the Rockets frantically closed the Pistons lead to just 4 points.
But the Pistons are a team that have lost three of their past four. Two of those losses were blowouts, one was against arguably the worst team in the league. The other was a blowout win against a surging Miami Heat team. So it's tough to say how they might respond when push comes to shove.
On the other hand, the Houston Rockets had won two straight heading into tonight's game. But fortunately the Pistons looked like everything they weren't last night to win with the blowout. They were crisp offensively, knocking down shots. They were resilient, came up with big plays. They made life miserable for the Rockets defensively.
As sure as it looked like Drummond might lose the game with his free throw shooting late in the third, he was the biggest reason for the win down the stretch with his offensive rebounding and defense. He also hammered the nail in the coffin late when Reggie Jackson found him, for some reason, covered by James Harden deep under the bucket with four minutes left in the fourth. Jackson just tossed the ball way up, Drummond skied up to grab the ball, hit the bucket, and drew the foul.
He missed the free throw, of course. And the following two once Houston again resorted to Hack-A-Dre. But it was still enough to seal the deal for the Pistons. He finished with 24 points on 10-15 shooting, 13 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 blocks in just 27 minutes. A monster. Though a monster that shot 4-18 from the line.
The other half of his franchise duo also was on point too, as Reggie Jackson brought a bounceback game after two straight terrible performances. Jackson was in one of his zones, perfectly balancing hitting his shots and moving the ball. He cracked 30 points for the second time this season, posting 31 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds, and a pair of steals.
It was also a breakout game for a pair of bench players. Drummond drew two quick early fouls in the first quarter. Between that and the Hack-A-Dre, Stan Van Gundy was forced to lean on Aron Baynes for extended minutes and the Aussie delivered. He put up 11 points, 4 rebounds, but most importantly delivered a physical presence to help stifle the Rockets.
Stanley Johnson offered his first career double-double with a terrific game, posting 19 points on only 11 shots and 10 rebounds. He also played some ferocious defense and did his best to ward off the Rockets late third quarter run, nailing a couple of big three pointers.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a skinny fellow, which may become a problem. He might start running out of room for notches to carve into his belt.
KCP added another one tonight in James Harden, which helped make up for a rough offensive night for Caldwell-Pope. He shadowed Harden all night, driving him to just 6-15 shooting and 5 turnovers. Harden also drew 17 free throws, but only two fouls came from KCP.
Next up for the Pistons is the Phoenix Suns at home on Wednesday night.
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