The Detroit Pistons fell to the Memphis Grizzles in shocking fashion 93-92 thanks to an unexpected 31-foot heave from Matt Barnes. The shot went through with a shade over a second remaining and following a Piston timeout, the desperation attempt from Marcus Morris fell harmlessly short.
This was easily the toughest loss of the year.
The Pistons should've left the floor a winner, but shaky late-game play and questionable decision making cost the team what would've been a nice, tough victory. Barnes making a miracle shot is something the Pistons can live with; it's what lead up to the shot that has Piston fans shaking their head.
Detroit was up two points with 29 seconds left in the fourth quarter and ran a two-man game with Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris that ended in a low-percentage elbow jumper from Morris. The shot was off the mark but somehow landed in the hands of Ersan Ilyasova who couldn't convert as the shot clock was running out. The ball leaked out and Barnes did the rest with a no, no, no, no, YES game winner.
Hero ball is bad basketball, but it seems to be the strategy of choice for the Pistons not only against Memphis but for all close game situations. The possessions that lead up to the dramatic ending were littered with inefficient looks at the hoop thanks to an isolation-based offense.
Heading into the game, all eyes would surely be on Marc Gasol and Andre Drummond as the big men are usually the focal point on both sides of the ball for their respective team.
Gasol's skill set is exactly the kind that gives Drummond fits; he's a playmaking seven-footer who's just as comfortable on the block as he is 18 feet from the rim. Gasol's versatility was on full display Wednesday night as he finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocks.
Andre Drummond is out of his defensive comfort zone when defending bigs (Gasol) who can shoot; not only did that draw the league's best rebounder away from the rim at times, but it also gave Zach Randolph (who would have trouble jumping over a phone book) the space needed to clean up the glass as he finished with seven offensive rebounds. As a whole, the Grizzles finished with 16 offensive rebounds including eight in the fourth.
Gasol is a perennial All Star, but Drummond held his own finishing with 18 points, 19 rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Offensively, Drummond's game continues to be an even combination of excellence and disaster. The highs are gorgeous and Vine-worthy while the lows are ugly and cringeworthy. It's hard to get down on an 18-19 game, but the potential for improvement is still on the table. "Potential" is a scary word but not in this case. Assuming we all agree that Drummond is a special talent, the only way we find out if he's has superstar talent is to keep him engaged on offense which includes back to the basket post play. As is, his best offensive play is an offensive rebound. If that's still the case two or three years down the road, it will be time to accept his limitations.
The Pistons got off to a slow start and is was actually the bench that fought back being down seven points after the first quarter of play.
Steve Blake had a season-high 11 points including connecting on two triples. Blake seems to be a tad shy when asked to shoot the ball, but that wasn't the case against Memphis. Blake found lanes, drove to the hole and looked to finish which is a big difference than what we've been accustom to. Blake does himself, and in turn, the team, a disservice when he doesn't look to shoot the ball, especially in the paint.
Darrun Hilliard made a surprise appearance and even hit a 3-pointer. For the 2015 second round draft pick, playing time is there for the taking, at least in the short term. The lefty has a smooth stroke but needs to prove it during real NBA minutes as he's solely on the roster for this shooting ability.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope seems to be a dividing topic. Again, KCP struggled from the field going 4-11 including 1-6 on triple try's. There is no doubt KCP can lock up but at what cost to an offense that desperately depends on three point making? Yes, there has been some solid shooting nights sprinkled in but too many times throughout the first 23 games of the season has his shooting been off. His label of inconsistent continues to be consistent.
The Pistons look to end their two-game skid on Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers.