There were several surprises in Detroit’s 102-90 win over the Hornets on Wednesday night, but probably none bigger than the game of young Stanley Johnson.
For those who didn’t watch the game there was only Johnson’s 0-for-13 shooting performance (the worst opening-night display in NBA history).
However, for the Pistons fans who tuned in, Johnson’s game was eye-opening in a different way. Johnson played a great game on the defensive end and was rewarded by his coach with a game-high 40 minutes of playing time.
No, Johnson’s shot wasn’t falling. Yes, he needs to start connecting on those catch-and-shoot opportunities to stay in the starting lineup. But for one night Pistons fans were happy to revel in his hard-nosed defense, steals, deflections and poise.
This new-found maturity was on display all night, including telling his very large teammate Andre Drummond to “shut the fuck up” after Drummond was getting into the ear of Dwight Howard and the officials and was dangerously close to a technical foul.
The words were exchanged at the 4:11 mark of the fourth quarter with the Pistons hanging onto a 10-point lead.
To many it might seem like nothing, but to me it looks like a player who has struggled to find his place on this team asserting himself and feeling comfortable in his own skin. It looks like leadership, which is something the Pistons could always use more of.
What sent Drummond off? One, but not the only, cheapshot from Dwight Howard. During the previous sequence Howard forcefully shoved Drummond other the basket and Dre was obviously not pleased.
Retour sur la petite altercation entre Andre Drummond et Dwight Howard suite à la faute non-sifflée au rebond. Stanley Johnson calmera le pivot de Detroit avec un "Shut the fuck up okay?" : pic.twitter.com/eoXYwfz5rM— Pistons France (@DetPistonsFR) October 19, 2017
The game was far from decided and free points for the Hornets could have turned the tide of the game. Or worse, Drummond could have got himself ejected at the worst possible time.
Johnson knew that, and he knew he had to settle his teammate down. So, yeah, he told Drummond to “shut the f**** up.”
Hey, it seemed to work.