The Detroit Pistons began the Dwane Casey era with a 97-91 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Andre Drummond led the way for Detroit with an amazing second half. He finished with 31 points and 16 rebounds.
Stanley Johnson added 14 points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Pistons were without Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer. The Thunder were without Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Andre Roberson.
The game began and ended with made 3-pointers from two unlikely suspects — Stanley Johnson hoisted the first and Ish Smith shot the 37th 3 of the night for Detroit. Unfortunately for Detroit, the ball didn’t actually make it inside the cylinder very often. Detroit made nine (24.3 percent). True to preseason promises, Andre Drummond got in on the fun, including stepping into a top-of-the-key 3 with 20 seconds left on the shot clock. It did not go in. Altogether, Dre attempted 3 and made zero.
Smith missed his first five 3-point-attempts before sinking his last to give his team a six-point lead with 16 seconds to play.
It wasn’t all 3s for Detroit, though, as the team practiced Casey’s preaching to get more shots close to the rim. Few of Detroit’s 84 shots were of the dreaded mid-range variety.
Other things of note during the first action of the season:
- It’s hard to read too much into the lineups tonight but Jose Calderon and not Ish Smith starting in place of Reggie Jackson seemed instructive. Detroit struggled last season with Ish in the starting unit, and Calderon seems like a much more natural fit.
- Or at least, Calderon would be if he is able to not get torn to shreds on defense. Tonight, Calderon made Dennis Schroder look like Russell Westbrook.
- Henry Ellenson got the starting nod with Griffin out and he didn’t do much with his opportunity. He made some nice drives with the ball in his hands but he didn’t, you know, shoot it well or defend or rebound.
- Glenn Robinson III looked good and even with Johnson playing a strong overall game he is still my prediction for your starting small forward.
- Johnson’s shot looked much improved. The arc is still a little flat but the whole motion looked more fluid.
- Luke Kennard is still playing himself into shape, but damn do I love watching him on the floor. And he seems like he was built in a lab to become a part of Casey’s offensive system.
- Zaza Pachulia — talks all the time on D, flops, is incredibly competent on both ends of the floor. Only father time is getting in his way.
- Reggie Bullock took a number of 3s from two to three feet beyond the 3-point line. Worth keeping an eye on.
- Excited to see a more natural playmaker in Blake Griffin become part of that constant ball movement and pick-and-roll action.
- Drummond made only 2-of-7 3s, and his knee bend tonight seemed much shallower than last season. I think that deep bend really aided his rhythm and helped make his shot repeatable and with nice arc. Hope we get the Dre of last year back on the FT line.
- Bruce Brown looks like a pest on D, but he also looks much more like an NBA rookie who doesn’t really know what’s going on.
- Langston Galloway — just keep shooting, my guy.