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2017 Pistons Summer League, Game 3: Key players step up in wild win

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Luke Kennard continues to put his best foot forward.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-South Carolina vs Duke Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Fourth of July featured a summer league contest between the Detroit Pistons and Miami Heat in warm Orlando, Florida. The game was an intriguing one, featuring some pretty sloppy basketball mixed with some rather crisp and enjoyable play. For good measure the game also featured sudden death basketball, as after the first, two-minute, overtime period the score was tied — and as summer league rules dictate, the game then settles into a sudden death situation!

The Pistons got a stop on defense, then point guard Pierre Jackson used his quickness and strength to get a nifty shot to fall in the lane for the victory. As exciting as it was, we will all certainly forget it come mid-August (or next week).

But for those keeping track, the win puts Detroit at two wins and one loss, with a total of 14 points (a team receives points for winning a game and winning a quarter), which right now is good for fifth in the Orlando summer league. The Pistons will square off against the Charlotte Hornets today at 3 P.M.

Let’s check out who did what:

Pierre Jackson

Pierre had turnover troubles in this one, with four of them, yet in most other phases of the game he was fine. He shot 8-of-15 from the field and had five assists. He played the bulk of the point guard minutes, totaling nearly 30 of about 42 possible. Seeing as how Pierre has outperformed Lorenzo Brown so far, he could be in the running for a two-way contract possibility with Detroit, or an even better situation from another team. However, it could just come down to Pierre’s performance in preseason whether he gets signed or not. It remains to be seen if that preseason chance will be with Detroit.

Below is Pierre’s sudden death game-winner:

Luke Kennard

Let’s not get too carried away now, The Force (editor’s note: Still not in love with this nickname) wasn’t fantastic or even close to it today (or any of the other summer league games for that matter), yet he does a lot of things very well and looks in complete control. He makes the most of his shot attempts and gets in the flow of the offense instead of hijacking possessions.

He did struggle with the three today, going just one-for-five from downtown, but showed he can finish from a variety of spots on the court and can create for himself and others. Can’t wait to see him do battle against more NBA-caliber guards and wings. That’ll be a fun test.

Here’s a Luke offensive highlight package:

Eric Moreland

It was a quiet day for Eric on offense - he had just a single bucket - but on defense and on the boards he brought his usual energy and explosiveness. He gets his hands on so many basketballs and keeps them alive. So far these three pretty solid summer league performances from Moreland are receiving notice, and something nice for him might happen soon as a result. Steve Kyler from Basketball Insiders tweeted this news:

As of this writing nothing has been conformed or made official in any way about an offer to Moreland. We’ll keep you updated of course.

For sure Eric deserves at least a highlight bone from the game, right? Here you go — it’s his block at the end of regulation where he totally snuffed out the play call (say, Eric, what about playing linebacker for the Lions?):

Henry Ellenson

The young man still has a long way to go in areas such as shot selection, strength and lateral quickness. We know huge improvement won’t happen overnight, and that’s fine. Henry’s got tons of talent and potential and it’s fun to see him play through mistakes in the summer league setting. We need to be patient, as it could be difficult for him to crack Van Gundy’s rotation even this season. Henry did score 18 points in the contest, though it took him 18 shots to do so.

Miami’s combo forward Okaro White usually had his way with Ellenson on the offensive end, scoring 29 on a variety of drives and moves. This lends credence to the idea that Ellenson is a center instead of a floor-spacing power forward - fewer centers have the mobility and quickness that give him so much trouble on the defensive end.

Michael Gbinije

Gbinije is still struggling on offense, hitting just 1-of-5 shots and missing two free throws for the game. Defensively, Gbinije continues to battle, totaling four steals. He’s very much competing at a high level, no matter how down he might be on himself about his offensive performance.

It’s important to note that he played the most minutes of any Detroit player and also led the team in plus-minus (+7). He’s getting his chances, that’s for certain. The July 15th deadline for Detroit to guarantee Gbinije’s 1.3 million for the upcoming season is fast approaching — hope Gbinije can put in a strong performance really soon to put his psyche at ease.

Lorenzo Brown

Brown scored three baskets but gave the ball away four times in 14 minutes of playing time. He needs a big-time turnaround game against the Hornets.

Mike Tobey

Tobey didn’t have his best showing. Just needs to come back and play a better game — at this point he’s playing to get noticed by other teams. As I’ve mentioned before, the Hornets (Detroit’s opponent today mind you) gave Tobey a 10-day contract last season. Perhaps he can impress them again. We’ll be watching.

Hollis Thompson and Derek Willis

Both received DNPs. I’m assuming the coaching staff wanted to get a couple other guys a few minutes, which they did.

Bam alert for the Bam fans

Miami’s Bam Adebayo didn’t play against Detroit. As Bam scored 29 points in the previous game, maybe his arm needed the extra day’s rest? Disappointing!

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For full highlights of the Pistons-Heat game, check here.

And for many of you out there, there’s only three days of work until the weekend! Yeah!