A win is a win, and perhaps it was crazy to think the first game with a new offensive focal point would be anything but ugly. In that sense, the Detroit Pistons will take their 104-102 victory against the Memphis Grizzlies, study the film, hit the practice floor and see if they can put something sustainable together.
For his part, nobody could have asked more of Griffin. The team was a +23 with Griffin in the game and looked completely lost without him. He finished the game with 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. He commanded the game like stars tend to do. He knew the rhythm he wanted to establish offensively, and his teammates followed his lead.
Most surprisingly, at least to Pistons fans, is that Griffin got to the free-throw line 13 times (making 11). That is not something Detroit fans are used to. The last Piston not named Andre Drummond to shoot at least 13 free throws was Reggie Jackson over two years ago.
But it wasn’t all fun and games in game one of the Blake Griffin era. The bench was an absolute nightmare, especially early, and neither Eric Moreland nor Willie Reed did anything at backup center.
And the offense was U-G-L-Y. There were tons of Griffin isos, which makes sense considering he has a very limited knowlege of the playbook and the tendencies of his teammates. Drummond also seemed to have difficulty finding his place in the offense. After tying the game at 99 with a monster dunk with 3:09 to play, Drummond was pulled for Anthony Tolliver and didn’t see the floor again.
That might have had less to do with giving Griffin room to operate and more to do with Drummond’s struggles guarding Marc Gasol. Veteran big men with range are definitely Dre’s kryptonite.
Drummond finished the night with 14 points, 15 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists.
Other contributors for Detroit included Stanley Johnson who had 14 points and played extremely hard for the second game in a row. He got a little 3-point happy after a few jumpers went in, but he also got a key steal that led to the aforementioned Drummond dunk that tied the game late.
Reggie Bullock also seemed like a player who is really going to appreciate Griffin sucking up so much of the defense’s attention. He’s a good cutter and a great shooter and nobody will ever really pay attention to him. he finished with 15 points.
After struggling mightily early, Dwight Buycks played a nice game and even got to the foul line six times (making five) and finishing with 13 points.
Memphis was led by Marc Gasol with 19 points (on 21 shots) and 14 rebounds. Andrew Harrison chipped in 18 points and eight assists. Former Michigan State product Deyonta Davis had 12 points and eight rebounds in only 15 minutes.