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Pistons High / Low: The letdown in Sac-town

Film don’t lie.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Sacramento Kings Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

At 70-52 midway through the third quarter, the game should’ve been over. Spoiler alert - it wasn’t. The Pistons blew that 18-point lead and ended up losing 100-94.


This is fantastic sideline out of bounds (SLOB) play:

Ish Smith inbounds the ball and immediately makes an Iverson cut to clear room. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope uses an elevator screen from Andre Drummond and Marcus Morris to hit one of his six three-point makes on the night.


For easy comparison, let’s throw a “low” in the mix.

Bad things happen when Drummond reaches on defense:

That slight left hand reach gave DeMarcus Cousins all the room he needed.

Now, lets take a look at what happens when Dre plays smart defense:

That’s four examples of solid, non-hands-y defensive plays by Drummond on one of the best scorers the league has to offer.

Shot clock winding down on Cousins, all Dre has to do is contest the shot and don’t foul:



Stanley Johnson was an active participant on defense all night:

Johnson quickly rights a Pistons’ wrong and it turns into an easy bucket for Drummond.


One of two things happen when Boban catches the ball this close to the hoop:

A dunk or he goes to the line. We’ll take either.


I like this play a lot:

We’ve seen the top of the key double screen lead to a Jackson/Smith drive, a Drummond/Baynes dive to the hoop, and a Harris/Morris three ball. A new wrinkle has Drummond setting a flare screen for Harris. Although it goes unused, it’s in the back pocket.


At the risk of sounding like a 7th grade coach, BOX OUT:

Drummond always gets in trouble when he assumes he can just out jump everyone. The simplest of box outs could’ve prevented that tip in.


No one plays perfect 100 percent of the time. Despite a few lapses, I thought Andre Drummond played his best defensive game in a long time. Problem is, his teammates let him down on a number of occasions, including these two:

First, again Dre plays Cousins about as good as you can but no one is there to clean up Drummond’s block. Next, Tobias Harris gets beat by Anthony Tolliver - which happens - but fails to recover/rotate and leaves Drummond hanging.

For comparison, watch the ground Kosta Koufas covers in blocking Baynes’ shot:

That’s how you rotate and help. Harris doesn’t need to pin shots against the backboard but he should at least recover to deny the pass.

Side note: If Drummond can consistently make that pass, it opens up an entirely new set of offensive opportunities.


The Kings went big late in the game, playing both Koufas and Cousins at the same time. In turn, the Pistons played Baynes and Drummond. Below, Baynes gets sucked in way too much and was offering help that wasn’t needed, Cousins made him pay:

That shot hurt, it came directly after Reggie Jackson hit a big three of his own to put the Pistons up by three.

Bottom line, if you’re up 18 points, you must finish.