It was a tale of two halves for the Detroit Pistons, who came out like a team that had been stuck on a plane for six hours before landing at 6:00 a.m. the day of the game, before they pulled together in the second half to make a game of it. Ultimately, Detroit lost to the Miami Heat, 117 to 108.
The Pistons limped to a season-low 37 first half points, dampened by 0-fer performances from Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway, and Andre Drummond failing to secure a single defensive rebound. The defense continued to be an issue for this team, as the Heat’s ball movement and diverse perimeter attack, fueled by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo’s distribution and Goran Dragic’s shooting and finishing, had the Pistons scrambling.
In the second half, though, to slow the Heat, Dwane Casey busted out the zone defense, hoping to promote some communication between his guy on that end.
And it WORKED! Guys were scrambling to cover for one another, talking, closing off passing lanes and gang rebounding. The Pistons miraculously won the turnover battle in this game (16 to 19) and a large part of that was the Heat’s relative lack of ability to attack a zone. The Pistons managed to close it to as little as eight late in the fourth quarter behind Luke Kennard’s 22 second-half points. However, Jimmy Butler responded by ramping up the aggression on offense, scoring 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to help lock the Pistons away.
Things we liked:
- The effort in the second half. For the second night in a row, the Pistons never stopped competing, even in a losing effort.
- Bruce Brown was a -30 in the first half, but finished with a career-high 11 assists.
- Christian Wood: 16 points, three rebounds, and 26 minutes played in Blake Griffin’s absence. Wood absolutely deserves more time in the rotation, but perhaps unfortunately for him...
- Thon Maker! After a dreadful performance last night, Thon had 12 points, two rebounds, three blocks, and anchored the zone in the fourth quarter for the Pistons. Maybe Thon needs to play zone all the time? It certainly lends itself better to his skill set.
Things we didn’t like:
- Andre Drummond fouled out early in the fourth, marking this as the third consecutive game he’s encountered foul trouble. Some of his fouls were on the cheaper side, but this definitely marks a slide for Andre.
- Tony Snell left in the third quarter but went to the locker room. He returned after, but was ineffective and bears watching - this Pistons team literally cannot handle any more injuries to starting-level players.
- Markieff Morris, Thon Maker, and Christian Wood combined for eight rebounds. Grrrrrr.
- The Pistons shot 25-37 from the free throw line - better shooting from the stripe could’ve made the final result even closer.
Blake Griffin has only played one game this year for the Pistons, but “4-6 and Blake hasn’t played a game yet” and “4-8 but Blake was on a tight minutes restriction in his return” feel VERY different. It’s still early in the season, sure, but the time period during which we can say that it’s early is eroding quickly, and these losses count just as much as losses during any other time this season.
The Pistons do not play again until Friday, on the road against Charlotte. I presume they will take the time off to get a good practice or two in, try and find the balance between Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin on offense, and rest after playing the most games in the league through today. But this team needs wins, and quickly, to turn their season around.