The Detroit Pistons won their first ever preseason game at Little Caesars Arena Friday night against the Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore-less Atlanta Hawks. The Pistons were without Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, but Ish Smith and Eric Moreland both filled in by playing smart basketball and sticking to their strengths.
The first half was a little back and forth with Detroit pulling ahead by five at intermission. Stanley Johnson had some decent moments, as did Hawks' 2017 first round pick John Collins.
Detroit came out of halftime like lightning. It was pretty much the Avery Bradley, Ish Smith and Henry Ellenson show (some thoughts on those guys in a bit). The Pistons quickly went up on Atlanta by double-digits and then stretched it to as much as 24 points late in the third and didn't really ever look back.
Late in the game Derek Willis, Luis Montero (two-way contract) and Landry Knoko entered, and all were quite active in their roughly two minutes of playing time. Willis splashed a three and swatted a shot. Montero got in on the block party as well. Stan Van Gundy had to be pleased with the overall effort tonight.
Second-year guard Malcolm Delaney led the Hawks with 15 points.
During the third quarter he drilled three straight mid-range jump shots and overall did his thing getting into the lane and keeping the defense moving and guessing. Ish finished with eight assists to just one turnover.
I didn't see all of his shot attempts (technical issues), but his overall game wasn't too bad. He used his sound footwork to wheel around for a bucket in the second half. He also made some heads-up passes and dove on the floor for a near steal.
Just love to see him take it to the basket. And can't forget his quick first step. This team doesn't figure to get a ton of easy baskets this season, so Avery getting to the lane is a welcome sight — much better than those long twos.
Eric corralled six offensive rebounds and seven defensive rebounds in 21 minutes of work. And I'm telling you, Eric was working. He also showed nice passing touch and awareness. He certainly looks like he belongs out there. Though, he did get too eager to try and block shots on a couple of occasions.
For a stretch in the third quarter Henry made it look like it was summer league time all over again. He shot the ball confidently and used his dribble to go strong to the hoop a couple of times, once getting a nifty lefty lay-in to drop. He scored 16 on just nine shots.
Was active on both ends of the court and had a nice first effort in making a legitimate case for regular season playing time. Let's keep a closer eye on him in the coming preseason games.
He's making some better decisions than we are used to seeing from him. Passed the ball well at times. Just baby steps so far.
Was aggressive offensively and took mostly quality shots. He also seemed to take it upon himself to be more of a vocal leader.
He didn't hit a shot from the field in nine tries (some questionable shots), however he did dish out six assists to no turnovers. I’m thinking that next game will be his break out game. Heat is going to be coming fast if he doesn’t.
Was quiet offensively, but did work on the defensive boards with 11 in 25 minutes. Made a nice righty hook late in the game.
Next preseason tune-up is Monday at home against the Pacers.