With no Blake Griffin and Reggie Bullock, not to mention key bench pieces in Stanley Johnson and Ish Smith, Detroit, playing on the second day of a back to back, faced an uphill battle from the beginning against one of the Eastern conference’s best clubs in the now 19-9 Philadelphia 76ers. Although, Detroit did receive an early potential holiday gift of sorts, as Jimmy Butler only saw 10 minutes of action due to a groin injury suffered in the first half.
The 76ers ended the third quarter on an 11-3 run to bring their lead to 87-76. Detroit got to within three a couple times before the 76ers’ run, but Detroit turnovers and heady plays by Joel Embiid and T.J. McConnell allowed Philadelphia ample breathing room.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the 76ers spread the lead to double figures and they didn’t look back. Ben Simmons was simply too fast and strong, scoring 18 for the game to go along with 10 rebounds and 7 assists.
Luke Kennard, along with Andre Drummond, was the main reason Detroit was even in the basketball game. Luke turned it over some (five), but otherwise looked comfortable getting to his spots for most of the game and using his superior footwork and fundamentals to score in creative ways. Luke scored a career-high 28 points, and also contributed on the glass with eight rebounds. For a struggling team without an identity or consistent threat beyond Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, Kennard’s (probable?) emergence might be just what this team needs to dig out of their funk.
Jose Calderon, who is 37 years old as you may have heard already a hundred times so far this season, looked like he was a spry 27-year-old at times tonight. Jose gave the team some decent minutes, but is a liability on defense. Jose was a plus-minus -19 in 20 minutes. Of course, the same can be said for Reggie Jackson’s poor defense. This team’s point guards consistently have a very hard time staying in front of the other team’s guards.
Jon Leuer had some positive moments on the first half but his jump shot looked dreadful in the second half, as he didn’t come close on some of his wide-open attempts.
The Pistons will play the (13-13) Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night. It’s just about as close to a must win game as there can be in December.