Tonight the Pistons were without the already injured Reggie Bullock and Ish Smith — plus Stanley Johnson due to a last minute scratch. The 76ers were without star center Joel Embiid (“rest day”).
The Pistons held a 68-56 lead at the half, with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond combining for 32 points. The Pistons were clearly rolling and getting open look after open look.
Things changed. Detroit came out of halftime very predictable and careless with the ball. When you surround Blake with Reggie Jackson, a struggling Glenn Robinson III and a non-shooter in Bruce Brown for a big chunk of time, being very predictable on offense is bound to happen.
The 76ers, led mostly by Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler, outscored the Pistons by 11 in the third, setting up a 90-89 Pistons lead going into the fourth.
But there was some hope for a short bit. Within the first two minutes of the fourth, Jon Leuer made a strong move for a bucket on the right baseline, stole the ball, and found a cutting Zaza Pachulia for a bunny.
Shortly after, Zaza made an acrobatic steal while falling out of bounds that led to a Luke Kennard fastbreak lay-up. You began to feel the Pistons were looking to break out of their funk.
Zaza and Leuer firing up Pistons crowd. You read that right.— Detroit Bad Boys ☠ (@detroitbadboys) December 8, 2018
However, from then on it was a struggle for Detroit. Drummond, Griffin and Jackson returned to the lineup, but the 76ers exploded with several blocks by Mike Muscala and Ben Simmons. The Pistons went five minutes without a field goal in the middle of the quarter.
Play was chippy in the second half, and got even more so in the late stages of the game with Blake Griffin’s cheap shot to Butler’s noggin. Philadelphia asserted itself as the tougher, smarter team with Jimmy Butler doing almost anything he wanted in the second half, scoring 26 of his 38.
Blake Griffin scored 31 and shot 17-of-24 from the free-throw stripe.
The Pistons will look to get back on the winning side of things against the New Orleans Pelicans Sunday afternoon at home. Philadelphia awaits again on Monday.