It’s easy to remain unconvinced by this team. After all, even with this run of strong play the Pistons are still just barely over .500. And yeah, the schedule had been pretty weak.
And it still kind of is. The Lakers were without LeBron James, the Pistons offense through the first half looked like a continuation of that same dismal play from the two games prior, and all of these wins keep coming against teams that aren’t really in it to win or are at less than full strength.
But there was something different about last night’s game.
Through the first eight minutes of the second quarter, the Pistons had scored just five points and were trailing a Lakers team that was also struggling to score. Detroit was shooting 2-10, turning the ball over too much, and couldn’t even connect from the free throw line.
But they caught on fire from three in the final four minutes to score 14 points, shifting the momentum and they controlled the game for the rest of the way.
In December and January, this was a game the team would have folded. Instead, they ran a lead out to 18 points in the third quarter and maintained a double digit lead for most of the way. Instead of folding, they made the Lakers fold.
Even with a poor game from Blake Griffin, the Pistons were able to manage a win. In the second half, he was virtually invisible by his standards. He attempted just three shots, all from three. But Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, and the shooters were able carry the load instead.
That’s a definite change.
From a fan perspective, it’s still tough to make heads or tails of this team. But we’re entering the stretch where we’ll finally learn what it’s made of. Another matchup against the Raptors followed by five straight games on the road, then only two tanking teams remaining once they get through the trip.
We’ve been waiting 68 games to actually figure out what this team is. Over the next 10 days, we will finally find out.