Early on, it looked like another listless, disjointed effort from the Pistons against the Dallas Mavericks at Little Caesars Arena. Detroit was down double digits and there was no flow to the offense.
Then something sparked. It wasn’t a bench lineup, and it certainly wasn’t the starting lineup. No, it was what looked like it might be the closing lineup that brought Detroit back into the game and ultimately led them to a 124-117 victory.
Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose were in the back court. Luke Kennard was on the wing ready to take advantage any time his defender left him on the perimeter. And Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond were the big men driving hard, making passes, hitting shots and rebounding the basketball.
It looked like Dwane Casey found something that worked.
Rose and Kennard certainly had it working all night. The two combined for 37 points on just 20 shots. Rose attacked the rim and scored inside or found open shooters on the perimeter. He also had his mid-range game working. He finished the night with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting in 24 minutes. Kennard was even more impressive as he was aggressive, handled the ball and scored at will. He finished with 19 points on just eight shots with five 3-pointers in 25 minutes.
Blake Griffin still looked a step slow and a little out of sorts on the floor, but he seemed to finally shake off a little of the rust in the second half. He had 17 points and five rebounds while Andre Drummond added 13 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Dre was aggressively attacking the basket and played quality defense (though he struggled early when Kirstaps Porzingis stretched him out 30 feet from the basket and still hit 3s).
Christian Wood also impressed in limited minutes. He only saw seven minutes of action before a couple minutes of garbage time while Thon Maker played 15. Wood still managed to outrebound Maker seven to two.
Joe Johnson, seemingly fighting Wood for a roster spot, did not play. Svi Mykhailiuk and Sekou Doumbouya also saw diminished playing time compared to game one.
The Mavericks were led by their electric duo of Luka Doncic (21 points) and Kristaps Porzingis (18 points).
The Pistons next play Friday at Cleveland.