The Detroit Pistons dropped their second straight to the Boston Celtics, falling 108-105. After struggling mightily on offense in the second half a late explosion saw the Pistons with the ball and a chance to tie with 7.4 seconds left.
Blake Griffin threw the ball away on the in-bounds in a miscommunication with Ish Smith and Detroit was forced to foul. Game over, man.
It was an unfortunate mistake for Griffin who had 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Pistons. That final miscue was his fifth, turnover, however, and 17th turnover of the night.
Andre Drummond added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons. Boston was led by an explosive Kyrie Irving with 31 points. Irving cut his hair and unlocked his game. He was explosive off the dribble, crossing people over for open looks, getting to the free-throw line and sinking four 3-pointers.
As a wise Piston fan once said, “Cruel masters, they, the gods.”
On a game where it seemed like Detroit should have constantly been down by about 20 points, the team kept finding ways to fight and claw back. It’s either a sign this season is all smoke and mirrors or that this team is actually really good, and it just needs a few more things to fall into place.
Those miscues, though, man.
The biggest culprit tonight was Stanley Johnson, whose spot in the starting lineup should be looking less and less sure by the day. Johnson spent most of the game trying to distribute. Not a bad idea for someone with such a broken shot, but he was deferring to a fault and drives and his passes were late, sloppy and constantly getting deflected.
Johnson had 9 points but he also had six turnovers and five fouls. In a game that was this close it is hard not to wonder what would have happened if Glenn Robinson III (11 minutes) and Johnson (34 minutes) had swapped spots.
Johnson spent a lot of time tonight as a small-ball four, which might be his best position but it’s difficult for the often times offensively starved Pistons bench unit. Tonight, we saw minutes where Ish Smith, Bruce Brown, Stanley Johnson and Zaza Pachulia shared the floor. That just can’t really happen.
Brown, a Boston native, might have had an ugly-looking shot (join the club), but he made several winning plays. His defense was strong and he was an aggressive cutter. scoring a career-high 10 points.
Offense was at a premium for both teams tonight. Detroit shot 42 percent from the field and Boston shot 44 percent. The Pistons hoisted 30 3s, but only connected on eight (26.7 percent). The Celtics didn’t do much better — hitting 9 of 31 (29 percent).
Things to keep an eye on — the Langston Galloway revival seems to be on hold. The defense isn’t strong enough with Ish and Langston sharing the floor, and LG wasn’t hitting his open 3s. Tonight, Dwane Casey opted to turn to second-round rookie Brown to fill out his wing depth with Luke Kennard out with injury.
Jose Calderon played 5 minutes in the fourth quarter, which was five more fourth-quarter minutes than Reggie Jackson played. He played 26 minutes on the night and looked mostly out of sorts, though the effort was there on defense. He hit only two shots, including an off-balance 30-foot heave at the end of the first half.
Finally, this might be the turning point in getting Reggie Bullock out of his season-long shooting slump. Going into tonight he had his just 32.6 percent from the field including just four of 20 3s. After missing his first four of the night against Boston, Bullock sunk his final three, looking assured as he hoisted from several feet behind the perimeter stripe.
Detroit has so few reliable 3-point threats that the team really needs Bullock to start hitting. Hopefully, tonight was the night it finally started to turn around.
The loss drops Detroit to 4-2 on the season with its next match-up tomorrow against the Brooklyn Nets.