Beating any good team on a west coast swing is good if you’re the Detroit Pistons. To beat the only remaining undefeated team in the league makes it even better. To beat a Clippers team in their building, where you haven’t won since 2010 makes it great.
But the best part of the whole thing was that there were so many moment where things could have gone completely wrong.
The Pistons faced what seasoned fans would have chalked up to “insurmountable adversity” in previous years. This game had a little bit of everything.
Facing a superior team on the road? Check.
Early foul trouble to Andre Drummond? Check.
Early foul trouble for Tobias Harris? Check.
A struggling bench unit that turned a lead into a big deficit? Check.
A huge disparity from the free-throw line? Check.
A 12-0 run in the third quarter took a one-point Clippers lead into a 13-point chasm and with the Pistons team appearing to have zero answers. No answers for Austin Rivers who was scorching the nets. And certainly no answers for Blake Griffin. The Pistons threw everything they had at Griffin and nothing worked.
Not Tobias Harris, not Jon Leuer, not Henry Ellenson. Nobody.
Then Anthony Tolliver came into the game. Tolliver played with energy and effort — no surprise there. But he also was able to slow the Griffin freight train. Tolliver started at power forward in the second half as Stan Van Gundy looked for answers to the Griffin riddle, and he delivered.
Griffin who shot 10 free throws in the first half shot zero in the second half. He scored only five points after halftime.
Then there was Langston Galloway. The born bucket getter not only helped narrow that 13-point deficit that seemed insurmountable, but he helped extend Detroit’s subsequent lead thanks to the ice in his veins. Galloway has no hesitation in hoisting a 3-pointer and hit two straight that quieted the Staples crowd and shook the Clippers in the fourth quarter.
This isn’t last year’s Detroit Pistons. Even though it’s early they’ve already proved that much.
The ball is moving, players are competing on both ends of the floor, everyone is contributing by focusing on the things they bring to the table. And, hell, Andre Drummond is hitting free-throws.
The Pistons play the Warriors in an hour. Who knows what the hell will happen. But it looks like this team is for real, and they are coming to play every night.