James Harden and the Houston Rockets worked the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, despite what the final score, 103-93, might otherwise suggest. It was the Pistons' fifth straight loss, dropping them four games back of the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
After a back-and-forth start to the game, the Pistons managed to play really solid basketball for, oh, maybe all of eight minutes the rest of the game. Keeping the game in single digits going into the second half, the Pistons jumped out to a strong start in the third quarter, going on an 8-2 run and pulling within a basket about five minutes in. One may have even sensed the Pistons were going to turn the game around. Unfortunately, Andre Drummond, who was showing signs of life, disrupting many of the Rockets' shots inside, picked up his fourth foul on an erratic and out-of-control drive to the basket and had to go to the bench.
From there, Harden and the Rockets took off. The Rockets outscored the Pistons 20-11 the rest of the quarter behind Harden's 11. He finished the game with 38 points, 14 of which came on his 18 free throw attempts. (That was one more than all of the Pistons' attempts.) He also had 12 assists and 12 rebounds. That's a triple-double.
In the fourth quarter, the Pistons could not buy a bucket of popcorn from concessions with all the money they're paying Josh Smith, much less a bucket from beyond the arc. They didn't score 'til Spring Forward and fell behind by as many as 24. They shot (redacted) from three and it would've been under (redacted) percent if Cartier Martin didn't come on in garbage time and salvage some percentage points.
Here's a list of Pistons who were generally awful in the game: Andre Drummond (4-16, foul trouble and pouting, although he did have 21 rebounds... wait, what? 21 rebounds!?), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (0-6 from three), Reggie Jackson (after starting 4-5, he was 3-11 and had four turnovers), Anthony Tolliver (holding down on the B button too long when he shoots 0-6 from three), Spencer Dinwiddie (Harden hazing), Caron Butler (old) and Shawne Williams (looks like he has zero clue what he's doing out there most of the time, constantly being told what to do). That's just about everybody on the team.
Greg Monroe led the Pistons with 19 points, eight rebounds, four steals, three assists and a block. Classic Moose.
The Pistons almost reached Don't Look Now territory in the final few minutes of the game, pulling within eight with under a minute to go, but KCP -- guess what? -- missed a three like every other three he took in the game. Rockets sealed it at the free throw line with more Pistons misses mixed in.
Box Score, if you dare.
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