Bradley Beal and John Wall hit a couple of easier-than-they-should-have-been midrange jumpers late in the shot clock, the Pistons offense fluttered because of their lack of shot creators, and Detroit lost their second-to-last preseason game, 102-97. Andre Drummond led the way with 17 points, 20 rebounds, two assists, and six (!?) turnovers.
Takeaways from this game:
The Pistons lived at the line
Detroit shot 29 free throws to Washington’s 19, with the new emphasis on off-ball defense resulting in a lot of early trips to the line for Blake Griffin (nine free throw attempts) in particular. For a team that struggled to get to the line organically last season - who runs an offensive system with an emphasis on player movement - the new rule enforcement could prove beneficial in the regular season. Speaking of player movement:
Glenn Robinson moves really well off the ball
I know I have extolled GRIII’s virtues in the past, but you don’t have to take my word for it:
Really think GR3 should be starting because of that off-ball movement that @lazchance pointed out. Need guys like that to make Reggie/Blake/Dre work.— Matthew Way (@waymatth) October 11, 2018
FINAL: #Wizards 102, #Pistons 97. Drummond and Robinson III were impressive tonight. Learned a lot about GRIII's activity without the ball. Johnson had 11 rebounds, despite going 1-of-13.— James Edwards III (@JLEdwardsIII) October 11, 2018
GRIII is just an active player, an extension of Bullock. I still wonder if he'll get run with the starters.— James Edwards III (@JLEdwardsIII) October 11, 2018
Robinson’s box score numbers don’t leap off the page - 13 points, two rebounds, a surprising -7 in plus/minus - but his movement and willingness to crash the glass makes life easier for the other four Pistons whenever he’s on the court. He really shone alongside Reggie Bullock and Zach Lofton, two other players who are both threats from the perimeter and used to moving without the ball.
Glenn should start. You can look up Stanley Johnson’s offensive numbers tonight if you want - I am trying not to denigrate Stanley any more than I already have - but just know Glenn was better on offense tonight, and it wasn’t particularly close.
Injuries old and new
We had our first Reggie Jackson injury scare of the season tonight: Reggie went missing from the bench after his early stint in the third quarter. I feared another season lost before it even began, but fortunately, Reggie sounds fine:
Reggie Jackson left with some muscle tightness, so no injury scare. He's getting stretched out now.— Keith Langlois (@Keith_Langlois) October 11, 2018
If he stays tight I would be surprised to see him in the final preseason game - Dwane Casey has made a point of limiting Reggie’s preseason minutes.
Jon Leuer also made his preseason debut, playing two first-half minutes and moving around adequately. He missed a wide-open corner three, though - his infamous streak lives on. Again, it looks and sounds as if he will be brought along slowly to preserve his long-term health.
The Pistons shot 35 percent from the floor and 26 percent from three. There were times, especially when neither Reggie Jackson nor Blake Griffin were on the floor, when the offense looked positively sclerotic - missed three after missed three, with no one who can bend a defense with the ball in their hands. It was reminiscent of the 2017-18 Pistons’ January, where they went 3-11, only this time it was with Langston Galloway threes instead of Avery Bradley 20-footers.
However, despite the offense looking bleh at times, Detroit never scored under 20 points in a quarter and only lost by five points. This is the power of the shot spectrum. Sure, Detroit shot 26 percent from three, but they attempted FORTY-FIVE threes, thirteen more than the Wizards. If you’re going to struggle to put the ball in the basket, when it DOES go in, it’s better to have the shot be worth three points than two points. Math!
Detroit plays their final preseason game this Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers in East Lansing. Then, the real games start in Detroit a week from tonight.